It was originally intended for the race track, but became the fastest road car ever at the time.
Last week, the annual RM Sotheby's Scottsdale auction took place where a plethora of automotive rarities went under the hammer. It was a momentous success, racking up over $36 million in sales by the time the auction finished last weekend with an 87 percent sell-through rate. One of the star attractions was this stunning 1966 Shelby 427 Semi-Competition Cobra described as "arguably one of the finest, most original and correct" examples, which sold for a whopping $2.95 million.
That meant it sold for around half a million more than its original estimate, which earned it RM Sotheby's high sales award. Originally, Shelby intended to build a racing version of the Cobra 427 dubbed the Competition model. 100 cars needed to be built for homologation purposes, but only 51 were made due to production hold-ups. Those 51 cars failed to meet homologation requirements, leaving Shelby with dozens of cars that couldn't be raced. Shelby's East Coast representative came up with a solution: why not convert them into road cars? The remaining cars were painted and fitted with proper windshields, folding tops, and license plate brackets to make them street legal.
Nearly all of the original racing modifications intended for the thoroughbred competition car were kept, including a side exhaust and flared fenders. These were sold as Shelby Cobra 427 "Semi-Competition" cars and marketed as the fastest road-going car ever built, powered by a V8 developing 500 hp which was insane back in the 1960s. Only 31 were sold to the public, while an additional 16 were sold to private racing teams. Two were kept as factory prototypes, and one was sent to Ford Engineering. After the Shelby Cobra 427 Semi-Competition, the second highest-selling car at RM Sotheby's was a 1948 Tucker 48 originally owned by Preston Tucker himself.
It sold for a winning bid of $1,792,500 - nearly $300,000 over the car's high estimate. Third place went to a 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, which sold for $1,682,500. Unfortunately, the Jaguar D-Type that everyone expected to be the top seller with a high estimate of $15 million failed to meet its reserve price.