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be 25 or 30, that is the car of his

dreams. And that’s what he will grav-

itate towards. The car on the wall is a

subliminal image.

SCUDDER: I guess that’s my point.

When I go to the SAAC convention, I

see a lot of the same faces that I’ve

been seeing for twenty or thirty years

at these conventions.

SAAC: The convention represents a

constant that flows through our part

of the hobby. They are like family re-

unions where you see each other every

year or every few years.

SCUDDER: We don’t tend to see that

many kids. If you think back to the

1970s, in 1977, for example, I was 28

years old. An awful lot of club mem-

bers were in their 20s, 30s, etc. You

don’t see that same age group today.

There are a few of them, sure. There

are some kids with their graying dads

but they are there because of their

graying dads. The pool of potential

buyers for these cars as million-dollar-

plus artifacts may, at some point, start

to shrink. And the younger, upcoming

generations may veer off to, I don’t

know, something from the 1980s or

1990s; something that has been the

object of their lust on their bedroom


SAAC: If you look back at cars like the

Model A Ford and 1955-56-57 Thun-

derbirds, and look at what happened

to their values over a period of time, it

may be where the values of Cobras

could be headed. You don’t see very

many of these cars at car shows today

because not many people in their 40s

or 50s are really interested in them.

But the people who grew up with them

or were too young to own one at that

time were excited to buy one as soon

as they could afford one. These cars

went up in value, but when these own-

ers began aging out of the hobby and

the cars started to get sold off, there

wasn’t a large pool of buyers willing to

pay what they had become worth, so

their values dropped.

SCUDDER: And the reason for that

is, let’s suppose a guy is out there look-

ing for a car, and he says, “

Let’s see, I

can buy this 1957 T-Bird for X or I can

buy this new Toyota Supra that is

faster and handles better for one half

that. I know the Supra better, the

parts are available and it’s more my

generation’s car

.” There’s no question

which one he’s going to buy.

SAAC: There is definitely something

to that “my generation’s car” idea. If

you let someone who is 20 or 30 years

old today drive a 1957 Chevy or any

car from that era they cannot believe

how crude and unresponsive those

cars are compared to just about any

car built today. And they cannot see

why there older people have so much

enthusiasm for them.

SCUDDER: That’s correct. And there

is an interesting lesson there. But it is

not the same across the board. The

brass cars, for example, reached a

peak, they plateaued and then flat-

tened. They have really dropped in

value. Except for a few iconic cars. It’s

the same thing with a handful of the

1940s and 1950s sports cars. The real

icons, the top of the heap, are still

bringing really good money. And I be-

lieve that’s going to be the case with

Cobras. They are iconic and they were

the fastest car of the sixties. They will

always be a high water mark in their

own right, for various collectors, irre-

spective of their age or generation.

SAAC: They became the high water

mark for performance cars because in

1968 the government began clamping

down on manufacturers, mandating

safety and emissions requirements

and insurance companies began rais-

ing rates on them. Cars of the 1970s

were not as fast and when the per-

formance tide went out it left the Co-

bras at the top. Until the Vipers were

produced, some thirty years later, the

427 Cobra was the fastest production

car made. The Cobras became an icon,

in part because of what they were and

because of what they were compared

to. Their success was an unintended

consequence of the restrictive require-

ments after 1968.

SCUDDER: Another aspect is that

Cobras were produced in very limited

numbers in relation to so many of the

other cars that are still being written

about today from the 1960s and 1970s.

Be they considered musclecars or

sports cars, they still command an

awful lot of awe and interest.

SAAC: We can recall when the first

Cobra replicas were made, in the early

1980s, and original Cobra owners had

an immediate distaste for these cars.

It’s taken a long time for them to re-

ceive grudging acceptance. Probably

because there are so darned many of

them now, you cannot ignore them.

SCUDDER: I don’t mind that they’re

out there. I understand that there are

people who simply say, “

It doesn’t mat-

ter to me whether it’s an original or a

copy. I don’t have the money for an

original so give me something that I

can drive that lets me feel like I imag-

ined it would after looking at the

poster on my bedroom wall for so

many years

.” Where I really get

frosted is when you go to some kind of

a show and there’s a guy with a car

that was built two years ago and he is

happily calling it a 1965 Shelby Cobra

427. I politely explain to him that it’s

a lovely car and all the rest, but it ain’t

a ‘65. And it ain’t a Shelby. And it re-

ally ain’t a Cobra. It’s a replica and

people really need to be told that it is

a knock-off. It used to be that a lot of

these cars were cobbled together from

parts off of all different kinds of cars.

You’d look in the engine bay and see

unfinished fiberglass. I would hear

other spectators say “

Huh. I never re-

alized Cobras were




thought they were aluminum.

” You’d

see crappy upholstery, horrible stitch-

ing, vinyl and you’d see wires sticking

out. I wish somebody could gather

everyone around and say, “

Hey folks –

this is not the level of quality that a

true Cobra has. A true Cobra is alloy,

it’s leather, it’s neat, it’s tidy if it’s been


” When I see these crap-

wagons and their owners claiming

they are AC Shelby 427 Cobras, it

turns my stomach.

SAAC: One of the problems leading to

some of this lies in semantics. The

manufacturers certificate of origin is-

sued for the CSX4000 cars by Shelby

American describe them as “1965

Cobra 427 S/Cs.” This was done on

purpose, to assist owners in register-

ing their completed cars without hav-

ing to comply with current federal or

state DMV regulations. The cars were

replicas of the 1965 Cobra 427 S/C.


338 Fall 2015