These four Cobras show the breadth of Shelby style and performance

When Carrol Shelby combined a beautiful and lightweight aluminum body from AC with Ford’s sonorous small-block V-8, it was a match made in, well, California. Venice to be specific. The Shelby cars and lore that sprouted from that understated shop continue to fuel the Cobra mystique and buyers are still clamoring for their chance to own a piece of the magic.

Four Shelby Cobras from the Steven Juliano Estate will cross the blocks at Mecum’s Indianapolis event May 14–19. They run the gamut from highly-optioned small-block cars to drag racing terrors to big-block bruisers. The best part is that each one has been restored with fantastic attention to detail and with correct parts.

Forced to choose just one, would you side with the lighter, more-balanced small-block, or the flared and brutish big-blocks? Would you prefer luxury, road-race, or drag-race? Side-pipe, or rear-exit exhaust? Steven Juliano’s collection doesn’t quite have every option of Cobra available, although there’s still quite a bit of variety, showing how versatile the Cobra was.

1964 Shelby 289 Cobra

1964 Shelby 289 Cobra
1964 Shelby 289 Cobra Mecum

Estimate: $1.75M–$2.25M

Lot F132

When this Cobra was unearthed more than 15 years ago after 30 years in storage, there was speculation that it was a Dragonsnake, the dragstrip-bound Cobras that are rare even by Cobra standards. It turns out that this quad-Weber, 325-horsepower Stage III small-block car, with its factory hard top, wasn’t a Dragonsnake but one of the most thoroughly-optioned and expensive 289 Cobras built. Packed with both power and luxury options like a heater, rear-exit exhaust with quad tips, grille guard, aluminum valve covers, and American Racing wheels, it’s the fast and flashy extreme of early Cobras.

1965 Shelby 289 Cobra Dragonsnake

19645 Shelby 289 Cobra Stage III "Drag Snake"
1965 Shelby 289 Cobra Stage III "Dragonsnake" Mecum

Estimate: $1.75M–$2.25M

Lot F140

This one is a Dragonsnake. Take the aluminum-bodied Cobra and give it a 271-horsepower small-block Ford and you have a recipe for a quick car. Shelby knew that when equipped with enough tire to really get off the line it would have a formidable drag car. That’s how Dragonsnake was born. Fewer than 10 were built, and this one marks the only model sold with the 325-hp Stage III 289 that transformed it into a rocket ship on the strip.

1966 Shelby 427 Cobra

1966 Shelby 427 Cobra
1966 Shelby 427 Cobra Mecum

Estimate: $2.0M–$2.5M

Lot F136

Finished in rare Silver Mink and wearing a set of absolutely gorgeous knock-off wheels, this Cobra is described as perhaps the most well-maintained and correct 427 Cobra in existence. With the street Cobra dash and small rectangular taillights, it’s also one of the most desirable of all Cobra variations. It comes complete with detailed ownership history and its original window sticker.

1967 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra

1967 Shelby 427 Cobra S/C
1967 Shelby 427 Cobra S/C Mecum

Estimate: $2.7M–$3.0M

Lot F128

Technically the last 427 S/C sold “new,” this Cobra was owned by John Grappone of Grappone Ford until 1982, when it was sold for a then-high $107,000. With only 10,760 miles on the odometer, this Cobra still has its original tires! A previous owner managed to track them down after they’d been in storage and reunited them with the car after more than 30 years. Like every Cobra in the Juliano collection, it’s totally correct and uses nothing but original parts. Blue with white stripes and side pipes, it’s perhaps the quintessential 427 Cobra.

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