Presented by RM Sotheby’s Private Sales – In 1962, legendary race car driver Carroll Shelby had the wild idea to marry a small British roadster with a powerful American V-8 engine. Amazingly, AC Cars supplied Shelby with a modified, lightweight chassis ripe for shoehorning, and the Ford Motor Company further provided him with its new small-block V-8, giving birth to the Shelby Cobra. By 1965, the Cobra had been refined into what is perhaps its most iconic form: 427 cubic-inch Ford V-8-powered Mark III.
In the early 1990s, Carroll Shelby took up where 427 Cobra production had left off, nearly 30 years prior, with the introduction of the 4000 Series. Built in Las Vegas, Nevada, these cars were intended to be “new” Cobras with the same style and appearance as their 1960s ancestors and were built using newly constructed frames and bodies in either fiberglass or aluminum.
Those that wanted go a different route could commission the artisans at Kirkham Motorsports of Provo, Utah to build a very special Cobra body. Each Kirkham body is constructed with unequalled care—composed of seventeen hand-formed and joined panels, they are finished to such an exceeding quality that the seams are invisible to the naked eye, even when viewed from below. They are, quite simply, works of art, meeting the street naked; wearing not a drip of paint, they expose their sculptural bodywork for all to see. Bodies ordered through Kirkham are available in several materials, most commonly aluminum—finished to a highly polished or roughly-brushed sheen—but are also offered in bronze, and copper.
CHASSIS CSX 4602
This exotic and alluring 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra “4000 Series,” chassis number CSX 4602, is a rarified example provided by with a body executed by Kirkham in copper. A pair of brushed “Le Mans” stripes bisect its otherwise mirrorlike, highly polished skin, providing an eye-catching accent.
Under the hood of CSX 4602 sits a hand-built 468-cubic inch “427 FE” V-8 engine from the Carroll Shelby Engine Company, featuring a stroker crankshaft, custom Mahle alloy power pack pistons, a custom-ground hydraulic roller cam, Shelby aluminum heads, and a Shelby aluminum intake topped by a Holley Hardcore 850HP Double Pumper carburetor. Factory-rated at 550 horsepower and 580 pound-feet torque, this formidable powerplant routes power to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and is capable of pushing the 2,400-pound chassis to top speed at an astonishing pace.
A set of lightweight 15-inch Halibrand-style knock-off alloy wheels are shod in Goodyear Eagle “billboard” tires. Each corner of this Cobra is underpinned by an independent suspension assembly to maximizing grip across all driving conditions, which works in tandem with the chassis’ formidable disc brakes.
Step over the copper door sills, beneath which sit polished stainless steel side-exit exhaust pipes, and you will find a set of lap belts for the period-style buckets appointed in black leather. For more competitive outings, the driver’s seat is also equipped with a pair of shoulder harnesses. The leather-wrapped dash is filled with a set of gauges from Speedhut of Orem, Utah and fronted by a period-style wood-rimmed steering wheel. Where safety is concerned, a fire suppression system is mounted to the cabin firewall, and a prominent chromed roll bar is mounted just rear of the driver’s seat.
Since the inception of the 427 Cobra in 1965, the design’s low weight and extreme power has scared even the most talented of drivers; if not piloted with precise focus, some say, a Cobra can certainly “bite you.” CSX 4602 can still bite, no doubt—but more importantly, it exhibits a stunning visage, masterfully executed in a rarified and difficult medium which is unlikely to ever become commonplace. CSX 4602 offers breathtaking performance and appearance in equal measure and, with its stunning copper bodywork, would look quite comfortable among even the most daring of contemporary sculptures.
This special Cobra is available for immediate acquisition via RM Sotheby’s Private Sales Division.