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Hagerty Employee

The life and death of "The Turd," Shelby's first 427 prototype

Meeting this book deadline almost killed me. Late last year, inspired by an idea pitched by Colin Comer, Hagerty assigned me to write a long-form feature about Shelby American, pegged to the then-upcoming 60th anniversary of the Cobra. (Come back Wednesday to read that story!
Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

Was the Turd literally a regular 289 car with a 427 casually tossed in its general direction?


This fits with the story I heard from a Detroit oldtimer, how true that story is I have no idea. The original 427 Cobra supposedly was the result of a multiple martini lunch Carroll Shelby had with Henry Ford II and as the article says, the prototype wasn't a very good car. The way I heard it was that while Shelby American developed the 427 Cobra for racing, the production version of the car was engineered at Ford in Dearborn with contributions from Kar Kraft.
New Driver

The Turd was a stock 289 chassis, CSX2196, retrofitted with a 427. Miles came up with the idea for the conversion after getting waxed by the Corvette Grand Sports in Nassau at the end of the 1963 season. Ted Sutton built the car, and Shelby signed off on racing it after briefly driving it around the neighborhood. The 427 Cobra that later went into production incorporated a wider and beefier frame built at AC Cars to accommodate the big-block V-8. BTW, a substantial number of Cobras sold as 427s were actually equipped with modified 428-cubic-inch Police Interceptor engines.