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The 427 cu. in. version of the Shelby Cobra was far more than just a simple engine upgrade from the original 289 cu. in. Ford V8 – the entire car was redesigned for the new NASCAR-derived V8 engine as it was capable of over 550 hp and there was just no way the original chassis would have survived.

The project to build the 427 Cobra was the brainchild of Ken Miles, the British racing driver and Shelby test driver that would many years later be immortalised by Christian Bale in the 2019 film Ford v. Ferrari.

The original 289 V8 used in the first generation of the Shelby Cobra was essentially the same as the engine used in the original Ford Mustang. In the lightweight British-built Cobra car the performance was exemplary – more than enough for the car to win countless races and establish itself as one of the quickest sports racing cars of its era.

By the mid-1960s the competition had caught up to the Cobra and it was clear that Carroll Shelby and his team were going to need to come up with something new. After talking with Ken Miles and scheduling meetings with Ford executives it was decided that a entirely new chassis was going to be needed, with considerably upgraded suspension and brakes, a larger radiator opening, and a modified body with broad wheel arches to accomodate wider rubber.

1965 Shelby 427 S:C Cobra Sanction II Engine

The original AC Cars chassis used in the Cobra used 3 inch main chassis tubes, the new chassis for the 427 Cobra used thicker 4 inch main tubes for additional strength. Double A-arm suspension with coil springs was fitted front and back, larger brakes were added cloaked with upgraded wheels and wider tires, and of course the pièce de résistance was the Ford 427 S/C side-oiler V8 bolted into the engine bay.

Ford had developed the 427 cu. in. V8 to challenge the Chrysler Hemi engines in NASCAR competition. Ford engineers left nothing to chance with the new V8, it was designed to be capable of the prolonged high-RPM operation required by oval track racing with a new side oiling system to get oil to the crank first and from there to the camshaft and valve train.

Every aspect of the engine was developed for reliable operation, it was fitted with a high-strength steel crank, solid lifters, and cross-bolted main bearing caps. In road trim this engine produced 425 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 480 ft lbs of torque at 3,700 rpm, however in S/C trim the engine was capable of well over 500 bhp and a top speed of 185 mph – these are impressive figures today but back in 1965 they were simply astounding.

1965 Shelby 427 S:C Cobra Sanction II Cockpit

Carroll Shelby’s primary goal with the new 427 S/C Cobra was to dominate the FIA GT class, to do this he needed the car to qualify as a production car, which required a minimum of 100 units made to meet the homologation rules. Sadly the deadline was missed, Shelby had just 51 cars built and as a result he was denied homologation approval.

Although many thought this was the end of the story it was actually more of a pause. Decades later in 2014 the Carroll Shelby Trust decided to finish the remaining 427 S/C cars using the original unused chassis numbers, these would become known as the Sanction II cars. Fitted with an original restored 427 side-oiler V8 these are race cars built to the GT class specifications necessary for Shelby American to compete for the 1966 FIA World Championship.

The car you see here is a Sanction II 427 S/C Cobra with just 5 miles on the odometer. It has a high-quality, thick gauge aluminum body and a correct Shelby 427 cu. in. V8 producing 550 hp and 540 ft lbs torque. The car represents a rare opportunity to buy an as-new Shelby 427 S/C Cobra and its price estimate sits at between $400,000 to $500,000 USD.
 

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Ken Miles (and Phil Remington) were arguably the talent that made Shelby great. The 427 might not have been without Ken Miles. I often thought of him when visiting the long "back-straight" at Riverside Raceway. There is an interesting story about the first 427 driven by Miles at Riverside. I THINK the story was attributed to an unknown Corvette driver who got passed by the first 427 driven by Miles at Riverside. Somehow the Corvette driver couldn't figure out how the Cobra he had just passed, spinning its tires in turn 8, was able to blow by him so fast near the end of the straight. Miles said something to the effect that it had so much power that he couldn't get it pointed straight until he reached the end of the straight. Miles fixed the problem, got the Cobra to handle, and ended the 'Vettes dominance with what was to become a legendary sports car.
 

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If you haven't seen Ford V Ferrari, I highly recommend it. I was still a child playing with Hot Wheels when Ken Miles died, but then the names Carrol Shelby and Ken Miles were demigods to us along Petty, Unser, and Foyt).
 

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I have many Shelby stories. An old LAPD patrol partner and noted Ford racer was friends with Shel. Would you believe Carroll Shelby didn't own a personal 427 roadster (I think he had his original 289) later on in life? So, a bunch of Shelby's friends built a 427 roadster to give to him on his 85th birthday. My old LAPD partner was part of that group and the one to transport the car from L A to Las Vegas. He called as he passed by our neighborhood asking if Jake (my Ford nut son) and I would like to see the car. As luck would have it, Jake and I were riding in Baja (where else?) and missed an opportunity to sit in and (maybe) drive Shelby's personal 427! Owww! That was the only time ever Jake and I have regretted riding Mexico. BTW, does anybody know the REAL story behind the "unused chassis" numbers?
 

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Unless I got my story wrong, the numbers were registered, but the chassis didn't exist, so they built them and left them out in a field to assist in "aging" them.
 

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Unless I got my story wrong, the numbers were registered, but the chassis didn't exist, so they built them and left them out in a field to assist in "aging" them.
Correct! That was another Shelby shenanigan! The California Bureau of Automotive Repair, (responsible for sorting out smog-related disputes, had fun with that one. LAPD fraud detectives (me) worked with the Bureau to put powers of arrest into their often ignored administrative action, in the City of L A. A good friend from the Bureau (RIP JMA) and I met over this one. Both of us were car nuts and we were pulling for Shel to win this fight, but it was not to be.
 
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