Classic Ferrari race cars often steal the show at the world’s most prestigious car auctions, but not this year at Pebble Beach.
The very first Cobra built by Carroll Shelby, which was used as his personal car and development prototype, sold for $17.69-million ($13.75-million U.S.) including auction fees at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale over the weekend.
The Shelby CSX 2000, which shocked the world in the 1960s, is now the most expensive American car ever sold at auction.
The previous record for an American car sold at auction was $ 11-million in 2012 with a 1968 Ford GT40.
“When you talk about American sports cars, this is it. I think this is the most American sports car ever built because it started the whole Shelby era,” said Neil Cummings, co-trustee of the Carroll Shelby Trust, which sold the car, in an online video.
The car was originally an A.C. Ace and arrived in the United States in February of 1962. Shelby personally picked it up at the Los Angeles airport and immediately installed a Ford V-8. The car was built on a shoestring budget and the company’s future rested on its success.
Shelby let journalists drive the car to drum up interest. He repainted the car in-between each magazine test to give the impression there was more than one car.
In June of that year, one car magazine tested it at 4.2 seconds for a 0-60 miles-an-hour time. Road & Track hit a top speed of 153 mph a few weeks later.
“This car is iconic, it is the genesis of where Shelby is today,” says Aaron Shelby, Carroll’s grandson, in an online video.
The CSX 2000 or No. 1 Cobra remained in Shelby’s ownership until his death in 2012.
The car was sold as is with ripped seats and dings on the body.
Total sales at Monterey Car Week auctions came to $345-million (U.S.), down from $396-million last year. A 1955 Jaguar D-Type Roadster led auction sales at $21.8-million including buyer’s premium, according to CNBC. The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider went for $19.8-million, and the highest scoring Ferrari, a 1959 250 GT California LWB Alloy Spider, ranked third overall at $18.2-million.
The Shelby Cobra ranked fourth, and a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competizione Coupe rounded out the top-5 at $13.5-million.