First Shelby Cobra sells for record-breaking $13.8 million

Image 1 of 2

Photo: RM Sotheby's

Shelby Cobras aren’t cheap. Not many of the iconic sports cars were built. It’s not uncommon to see preserved or restored models sell for $2 million or more today, and even a daily driver is worth over $500,000. But if you want the first Cobra ever made, that’s really going to cost you.

In 1962, Carroll Shelby dropped a 260 cu in Ford V8 under the hood of a lightweight British AC ACE and created one of the most exciting cars in history. The venerable salesman and showman then took it around to the car magazines to promote its sale, repainting it each time so it looked like his cash-strapped operation had already produced plenty of cars.

The scheme worked and the orders came in, Shelby eventually adding even the more powerful 289 and 427 models that would cement the Cobra’s legend. But Carroll never let that first development car go. He kept it himself until the day he died in 2012.

Dubbed CSX 2000, it wears its final coat of blue paint -- chipped in several spots exposing the previous layers -- and retains its now very tattered driver’s seat. But even though it looks like it needs a little work, it just set an enviable record: The most expensive American car ever sold. The Carroll Hall Shelby Trust let it go at the RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterrey, Calif., on Aug 19th, where it went for $13.8 million, including action fees. That beat the mark set another car Shelby helped develop -- a Ford GT40 that sold for $11 million in 2012. But as sky high as those prices are, they may seem like a bargain one day.