The Ford Shelby Cobra Concept was introduced at the 2004 Detroit North American International Auto Show where it attracted huge crowds of people who wanted to see something they thought would never happen – Carroll Shelby and Ford reuniting to build an all-new Shelby Cobra.
Back in the 1960s former racing driver and 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Carroll Shelby had imported AC Ace cars from England then fitted Ford V8s, in so doing he created a lightweight, powerful, and nimble sports car that could beat just about anything else on the road.
These original Shelby Cobras became a legend in their own lifetime and they launched Shelby from being a racing driver who had been forced to retire due to a heart condition, to being one of the most famous performance tuner in the world.
By the early 2000s Shelby was in his 80s, having outlived even the most optimistic predictions of his doctors, and a plan was formed between senior executives at Ford and Shelby himself to build an all-new Cobra they internally nicknamed “Daisy.”
This new car would be 100% production ready, it wouldn’t just be a rolling chassis with a pretty body designed to impress car show attendees – it really needed to perform. The key team that worked on developing the car was Carroll Shelby of course, with Chris Theodore, Ford Vice President of Product Development, and J Mays, Group Vice President of Product Design.
“It turned out just beautiful, didn’t it? I’m very happy with the car. At 81 years old, how lucky can you get to be part of a continuation of something that happened 40 years ago? It’s going to be a real ass kicker!” – Carroll Shelby
Above Video: The Ford Shelby Cobra Concept was featured on Jay Leno’s Garage in 2020.
The Ford Shelby Cobra Concept was a blank slate design that used the Shelby Cobra 427 as its inspiration, with its flared wheel arches, purposeful stance, and prodigious power output. The mid-engined Ford GT had been shown to the public two years earlier in 2002 and put into production in 2004 – the Cobra Concept would make use of a number of GT parts which vastly simplified its planned production.
One unusual decision that was made during the development process was to forgo the use of a V8 engine completely. The new Cobra would be fitted with an experimental all-alloy Ford V10 engine with a swept capacity of 6.4 liters, it’s capable of 605 hp and it has double overhead cams per bank, 40 valves, and a dry-sump.
Alloy was used extensively in the construction of the car, it has an all-aluminum space frame chassis designed by Ford’s Advanced Product Creation team, with Ford GT extrusions and castings, and a bespoke billet aluminum front structure.
The front and rear suspension was borrowed from the GT also, though it was tuned specifically for the Cobra. Unlike the originals this new Cobra was fitted with a transaxle, giving it almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution and more interior room.
“There are so many things left in the world that I want to do … and building a new Cobra is number one.” – Carroll Shelby
Above Image: The styling of the car was influenced by the Shelby Cobra 427, the larger and more powerful car that was released after the initial run of 260 and 289 cubic inch cars.
When it was unveiled the Ford Shelby Cobra Concept brought the house down, it was awarded Best in Show by “Autoweek” magazine, and Ford was inundated by enquiries from people who wanted to buy one.
The plan all along had been to put the car into production, thought sadly this would never come to pass, in large part due to the Great Recession. As it stands today this car is the only one in the world and impressively it’s also 100% street legal and drivable.
Ford sold the car at a charity auction in 2017, with proceeds going towards the restoration of the Fair Lane mansion, the home of Henry and Clara Ford. The man who bought it was none other than Chris Theodore, the former Ford VP of Product Development who had worked on developing the car all those years ago with Shelby.
When Ford sold the car they had it decommissioned so it would no longer be drivable, however this was never going to stop a man with the resources of Chris Theodore from getting it back on the road. Chris sent the car to Technosports of Livonia, Michigan who had assembled the car originally and they replaced the required parts. The car is now running and road worthy.
Chris is going to be offering the car for sale in Monterey with Mecum in August, there’s no price guide listed yet however if you’d like to read more or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of Mecum
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.