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Could This Cobra Be Real?

Trailer Cobra

From Mike R. – I saw this in my way to work the other morning. It was at the DMV ready for it’s inspection. Anyone out there able to tell if it’s an original or a replica?


  1. Andrew

    It has 427 rear fenders but no side pipes.

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      It’s a 50th Anniversry,, CSX7977 By Shelby American. To be given away on1-1-2016 by Wounded Warriors. It has a 289 with webbers.

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      It has a single pipe on each side sticking out just in front of the rear tires.
      You can look at the hole car including the motor, winwithacobra.com

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  2. OhU8one2

    The chances that it’s a replica are better. From the distance in the photo it does look very original. I usually look for the gear selector . Original’s looked like they were installed backwards. The interior was so small,and tight. The Cobra is definitely one of great quality. Wish it was mine.

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    • Mark

      That is a 289 Replica! If it was real it would not be at the DMV!

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      • Conrad

        Whether or not it’s a replica, it’s not a 289 (which doesn’t have the big rear fenders, and is more slab-sided).

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  3. Bullethead

    I rather doubt any of the existing 427 Cobras would need to be brought by trailer to DMV for certification.

    But a freshly built replica would be.

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  4. Arthur

    Just guessing, but I doubt a real one would be hauled on an open trailer as they are quite valuable. Cobra’s are common as kits. Depending on the state, it might be at the DMV getting inspected before a title is being provided for a built car.

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  5. Dan Farrell

    I stopped at a restaurant on hwy 410 in the mountains of Wa. and a Cobra club was stopped there. Replicas outnumbered real Cobras 3 to 1 and it was hard to tell the difference between real and replica on some of them, usually the dash or interior told the difference.

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    • brakeservo

      I spent some time with the Cascades Cobra Club (Oregon/Washington) and was attending the Portland Historic Races one year with my Cobra and the organizers placed me with this primarily Factory Five Kit Car Club. I was standing there when one of the few genuine Cobras drove in – I was amused that the kit car club members commented on this car that it just ‘didn’t look right’ as none of the panels were the same as the Factory Five kit!

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  6. brakeservo

    Fairly certain it’s a replica – the exaggerated rear quarter panels and much wider than expected rear wheels would indicate this. Appears to be a 289 FIA model. Very few ‘real’ ones ever built.

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  7. MikeW

    If it’s glass, it’s a replica

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    • brakeservo

      The late Mr. Shelby would have argued otherwise, witness his CSX4000 and 7000 series cars which he hoped to market as “real” although most were fiberglass and generally recognized as fakes or replicas . . . except by the guys who bought them new. If nothing else, they learn the hard truth when it comes time to sell . . . but not all fakes are ‘glass either – the Kirkham immediately comes to mind . . .

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  8. jimbosidecar

    Looks good either way. I like those Goodyears. Don’t see those on many replicas

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  9. jeffryh

    We recently had a car show here in Ukiah Ca and there was a car that looked just like this one,Same paint and stripe being called a “Real Cobra” turns out it was a continuation car that was being auctioned for some charity. May be the same car running the show circuits to sell tickets and fundraise. It was fiberglass and nicely done but with a Shelby vin plate and built not to long ago. Body looks like the race car built for some of the European races in 64 with the door cut differently than the stock 289 with larger rear body work to cover the larger tires.

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  10. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Cobra replicas outnumber the real ones by a whole lot more than 3 to 1.

    While it’s possible it could be real, it’s doubtful.

    Even a real one would have to go through an inspection at the DMV. at least in Connecticut. Here they do not allow the car to be driven if it registration has lapsed.

    DMV not only demands you trailer/flatbed the car to their facility, they also do not allow the flatbed to leave until inspection is complete in case the car does not pass. So your paying for the flatbed and the man’s time, which is at the discretion of the DMV and where you show up in the line.

    FIA’s have the rear boot lid dimpled with corners to allow a FIA suitcase to fit.

    For authenticity, I look for the shifter and the dash layout with the sidewinder tach.
    The front suspension is also a giveaway. Rarely are Halibrands used.

    The neatest replica I’ve had a chance to drive was a Johnex from Canada that was modified with the addition of an aluminum body. What made it unique and more importantly more comfortable to drive was that the company that makes them offsets the engine 2″ from the centerline towards the passenger side allowing the driver to actually have a pedal box you can wear normal shoes.

    An original 289 AC that I had the chance to drive in the late 70’s was by and far the best handling car from a factory that I’d driven! The car had less 30K on it and was unbelievably well balanced, it also had wire wheels.

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  11. DonK

    Feel the inner fender wells. Original Cobras were aluminum. Replicas are fiberglass.

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  12. brakeservo

    re: Conrad – you don’t know Cobras – the 289 FIA Cobra looked pretty much like this car. Image attached to this reply is a photo of Shelby American’s new 289 Fia Cobra fake – they look pretty much similar don’t you see??

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  13. Danno

    Maybe a Kirkham Cobra? Looks pretty close, but then, all the kits/tributes/replicas look pretty similar to me.

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  14. Alexander

    There are some good looking replicas out there along with tons of gaudy and poorly done Kobras.
    You can’t tell it’s origin from the interior or dash either. And, the cutback doors were found on race versions but have now been incorporated into many replicas.
    The most obvious tipoffs as to real or fake are the frame and suspension. If you see a round tube frame with transverse leaf springs it just might be a real 289 if it has r&p steering. If it has worm &sector steering it’s likely a 260 but could be an early 289. Round tubes and coil springs? Just might be a real big block car, either a 427 or 428—yes about a third of the big blocks were 428’s.
    If it has sidepipes and a roll bar the odds are astronomical that it’s a fake. Only the S/C’s had them and there were only 35 made. At the current going price around $2 million there’s not many on the street or on flat bed trailers.

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  15. Art Fink

    The posted car is an interesting Cobra. I would agree that the car is a 289 FIA from Shelby American. The front end to rear quarter resembles the 289 FIA. The foreward facing roll bar is a give away. Yet, from the doors back resembles the rear of 427 SC. I would say the picture posted by brakeservo and the original posting are the same car. For comparison here is my 427SC Replica.

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    • Brakeservo

      The photo I posted of the 289 FIA car came direct from the Shelby website pertaining to their replica available to anyone who will pay the price.

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  16. krash

    …..either way, I’d be happy to find it under my Christmas tree…

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  17. John

    “Back in the day” when normal people actually raced these it was often said that you could be sure of originality by looking at the lower portion of the rear fenders. Cobras are aluminum and have little in the way of wheel well protection. As a result they often had “reverse” dents where the surface was dented outward by rock hits from underneath. You could see it pretty easily.

    Another way to do a rough check is to simply look at the seams around the doors/hood/trunk. AC Cobras were NOT examples of fine British coach works. The more uneven the seams, the greater likelihood that the car is real. Most of the newer glass cars have good seams.

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  18. Kevin Harper

    I think there are a few variation of 289’s
    This is an image of an actual Le mans 289 cobra, which is considered a “Slab sided” cobra. It ran in 1963.

    I have worked on both real and replica Cobra’s, contach’s and stratos, and all three the replicas are generally better built than the real thing. Cobra’s in particular have evolved to be a much better beast. Also the reverse gear shift is common in even the replicas.

    My guess is it is a replica and that is not such a bad thing
    KL Harper

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  19. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Definitely agree with John on AC’s coachwork skills. We had an Aceca in the family and some of the work drove the old man bonkers.

    If we’re talking Italian, we need to move our expectations down another notch altogether.

    The problem now with these cars and the Jaguars that I play with is that 50 years have transpired and it’s only on the last ten or so that originality has come to mean anything and we’re still behind the standard Europe uses.

    Cars have been over-restored for some time now. Jaguar, for example will always reward the over-restored example over the one that has the original imperfect body gaps. Jaguar’s final inspection in the 60’s included a road test that meant some cars experienced a re-spray of the front end to remove stone chips from the final test segment. The re-spray had all the color matching quality that was available to them in that era, which meant occasional shading differences that were more prevalent over time.

    Aware of too many examples of cars now being perfect when they didn’t leave the factory in that manner.

    The FIA most noticeable body difference to me has always been the suitcase corners formed into the trunk lid as without it the suitcase would not fit. FIA enacted this rule to keep certain manufacturers from using their full bore race cars as most did not have trunks much less a place for luggage.

    The sidewinder tach and the tach configuration is another area that is rarely copied correctly.

    All bets are off though when the hood is up as GRP is easy to spot.

    Still can’t count the number of kit owners claiming they had their body at a shop and said shop had a fire, body stolen, disappeared etc, which is why it’s in glass now.

    The front suspension always gives it away with the steering rack.

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  20. doug

    My neighbor used to have an original (couldn’t tell you what year or version off the top of my head) but the point is, he lamented he opened his big mouth and claimed that original Cobras would NEVER go over X amount of dollars ( I don’t recall the exact number) But several people were standing there and one put him on the spot. Said “Ill buy yours right now. cash” Ooops! Tony said he came home and on Monday FedEx was there with a cashiers check for the full amount. So, he sold it. and History showed, yes, they DID go over that amount and then some. However he turned around and bought a well built kit car replica (Turn key) and now says that while he missed out on the speculative income opportunity, he doesn’t regret selling because he much more enjoys the replica car as he is not afraid to drive it, and drive it hard. Something you cannot do to an original. So, at the end of the day, I would also agree that in some cases, the replica cars are the more logical choice. Whats the point if you cant drive and enjoy them?

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  21. brakeservo

    I’ve driven a number of original and fake Cobras. You need to realize the Cobra was a rude and crude car as delivered by Shelby – squeaks, rattles, traditional British electrical gremlins, overheating issues etc. I have a fake and I love it – mine is “beat to all hell looking” (it’s nearly 40 years old) and it delivers nearly all the driving experience of an original except perhaps for outright speed – and as I’ve been saying for a number of years – it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. We are responsible adults now aren’t we?? For a street driven fun car a replica can be great fun – the downside is that a replica will absolutely never ever be worth more than it costs to make another but so what?? Does anyone ever consider ‘investment value’ when buying a Kia, Hyundai, Ford or Chevy?? So it is with replicas – you get your money out in enjoyment value and use – and I’d rather drive my fake Cobra than just about anything else I own. And ironically because mine is so weathered and worn – most people including some fairly knowledgeable collectors assume it’s “real” when they see it so it’s opened all sorts of doors at Laguna Seca, Monterey/Pebble Beach etc.

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    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      The one BIG thing I’ve never understood is the installation of a Chevrolet engine in a Cobra replica. This is so common that you can purchase cast aluminum Cobra valve covers with a Chevy pattern, your choice the of SBC or BBC.

      Having sourced a period correct 427 for someone out of a boat I understand the costs involved, and those of having to buy the SS heat exchanger that came with it and we didn’t need.

      But I don’t understand using a SBC when a 289 is so easily and cheaply available, though hop up parts are far more costly than a GM equivalent.

      Sort of like seeing a 30’s era Ford hotrod without its Flathead and a SBC in its place.

      Probably just me.

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  22. Fred Hill

    Having grown up around ‘real’ Cobras, Shelby Mustangs, etc., seeing them race & examining them up close at Riverside Raceway as an obsessed 7 year-old, ( a friend recently sold an original authentic 289 ’63 Sebring Team car as well, a very similar car in Red as the Black car in the thread above). All the FIA Cobras,i.e. the Targa Lorio entries that year, were 289 cars in 1964, as the car driven here by Phil Hill in that event. The replica in the DMV emulates these cars (sort of) with its paint scheme & incorrect front stripe, the fakeys never get that right). The real cars all would still show a distinct patina as the car in the article photo clearly does not ~ many other details as unlisted notwithstanding…


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  23. Craig

    Its is fake, replica, continuation, whatever you want to call it. The car in question is modeled after the USRRC (united states road racing Cobra) Cobra’s, of which only 6 were built. That car, is not one of the six. I know all 6 cars.

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  24. VictorAnderson

    If the chassis is real, the VIN starts with CSX. If it’s fiberglass the body is for sure not real – but there is still a shot at a real chassis.

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  25. David Frank David Member

    What is real and what is not? This is a 50th Anniversary Shelby Cobra. It is one of 50 cars built by Shelby American, Inc. to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1962 289 Cobra.

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  26. Brakeservo

    Beautiful car David! Is it yours?? I’ve seen these at Shelby American’s displays at historic races and Barrett-Jackson Auctions. Wish I owned one but is it “real?”

    I’m guessing it’s a CSX7000 series so always will be known to have not been built ‘back in the day.” What does the title and registration say it is?? Year model on paper work??

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