In 1965, 1966, and 1967, a high performance variant of the Ford Mustang was build by Carroll Shelby’s company. Called the Shelby GT (but branded as the Shelby Cobra), the Shelby Cobra was factory sponsored to compete against the also factory sponsored Chevrolet Corvette. In 1968 the Shelby Cobra was renamed the Shelby Cobra GT. This name became legendary among Mustang enthusiasts.
The final model year of the early Shelby Cobra GTs was 1970, though the namesake was revived in 2007 to celebrate the introduction of the new fifth-generation Ford Mustang.
Performance of the Early Shelby Cobra
In 1966, if you were lucky enough to get your hands on a Shelby Cobra GT350, you were given one of the rarest and most valuable Ford Mustangs ever produced. It is also the year that the infamous Hertz Mustangs became available for sale. Dubbed the Shelby Cobra GT350H, the Hertz version of the 1966 Shelby Cobra GT350 was limited to 1,373 cars. These cars have been known to fetch over $120,000 at auctions today.
1967, the final year of the early Shelby Cobra, was also the most significant. The GT500, affectionately known as Eleanor (and highly popularized in recent memory by the movie ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’), came equipped with a 428 cubic-inch Cobra Jet V8, rated at 335 horsepower (though many say that rating is conservative).
Carroll Shelby ended his agreement with Ford in the summer of 1969. Production of the Shelby Cobra ended with the 1970 model year.
Modern Shelby Cobras
Introduced as the GT-H (the Hertz edition) at the 2006 New York Auto Show, the modern Shelby Cobra is a powerful variant of the current Ford Mustang. A 4.6L, 319 horsepower V8 makes the Ford Shelby GT (as it is now dubbed) a slight step up in terms of horsepower from the standard 300 horsepower Mustang GT. The Shelby Cobra GT500, packing a 500 horsepower V8 and a 6 speed manual transmission, remains the “King Kong” of the Mustang world.