Not that every 427 Cobra doesn’t have a story, but one of the most storied street Cobras in the world goes up for sale on Saturday, May 4, 2013, at Worldwide Auctioneers’ Houston Classic in Montgomery, Texas. This particular Cobra, CSX3264, is regarded as one of the best restored 427s there is, and it’s outfitted the way most people seem to like their coil-spring Cobras — with a genuine 427 side-oiler engine, Halibrand knock-off magnesium wheels (complete with safety wire), side pipes and in Rangoon Red paint with white stripes. Previous owners of CSX3264 were rock star Rod Stewart and Beach Boys rivals Jan and Dean.
With values on Cobras where they are right now, most of us are priced out of the market. Interestingly, in the 1970s, these cars had a hard time finding new owners at much more than 10 grand. Just a few years later, replicas from firms like ERA and Contemporary began to hit the market and the great run-up in the collector car market saw 427 Cobra values escalate rapidly. When the crash in the market came in 1991, Cobras were affected, but the days of true affordability ended in the early 1980s. Those lucky enough to take the plunge then were lucky indeed. Now it takes at least three quarters of a million dollars to buy any example of a coil-spring Cobra (Shelby-speak for a big block Cobra), and the best of them will break a million.
What’s an ordinary person with Cobra lust to do? If a replica won’t do, there’s always a Sunbeam Tiger. Shelby recreated the same formula for The Rootes Group, the owners of England’s Sunbeam car company (no connection to the appliances), by shoving a small-block Ford V-8 into a little British sports car. Admittedly, the Sunbeam Alpine didn’t have the curves of the AC Ace that the Cobra was based on, but it’s not a bad looker either, and values are on the rise. Ditto with the AC MK IV, an aluminum-bodied Cobra-inspired car built by Brian Angliss in the UK, who had licensed the AC name. MK IVs look the part and are beautifully built, with a fuel-injected 5.0 liter HO Ford engine. They were actually sold new and warranted by Ford dealers. They’re scarce and values are on the rise, but they’ll scratch the same itch as an original Cobra for a fraction of the cost. Then again, if you’ve recently struck oil or a long-lost uncle just left you a fortune, there’s the Worldwide car coming up for sale in less than a month.