This is the 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept. You’ve probably forgotten all about it, haven’t you?
Built as a spiritual successor to the legend, Ford wanted to showcase their latest technology as well. A small team took a modified Ford GT chassis and about 5 months to build this modern interpretation. Oh and the man himself was in on it too: Carroll Shelby.
The concept car stole pretty much every cover page of every car magazine a the time, but for whatever reason faded away into the land of forgotten concepts, especially after the Ford GR-1 concept followed shortly after. The GR-1 was spiritual successor to the Cobra Daytona and had way more sex appeal with its flashy polished aluminum body.
So why did I pick up this Hot Wheels model? Well I for one, really dig concept cars, as you already know. I was never really big on this car, just like the rest of you, but the Cobra is such an icon I knew I could fit it into my collection. Also, I couldn’t resist clicking the “Buy it Now” button on an eBay listing that would ship it to me for less than $20 all in. I’d do that for any 1/18, really.
If I was a huge fan of the car, maybe I would have sprung for the Auto Art version, but that would have set me back five times as much!
Besides, this entire concept is a perfect example of minimalist design. The flat dash has really simple gauges. The steering wheel is basic. The door cards are a speaker and a handle. The body is a silver jellybean with stripes and the engine under the hood looks like the show piece it was meant to be. So the real question is why spend over $100 on something that isn’t going to be all that detailed to begin with?
The Hot Wheels model is an honest model. It captures the design of the car quite well and all parts open with the exception of the trunk. The Auto Art car does have an opening trunk with details of the fuel cell, but still not enough to convince me to shell out Auto Art money. Another thing lacking on the model is the raised “BF Goodrich” lettering on the tires.
Integrated vertical bumpers are a tribute to the chrome fangs the original car from the sixty’s had. The shut lines are kind of gappy and uneven, but that’s to be expected on the budget minded model. Pair this with a face only a mother could love, and the reason the seller let this go for only $20 is clear as day.
The concept also featured dual rollbar loops, rather than the original car’s single. This is a modern interpretation don’t forget; safety is sexy.
Ford also made the interesting decision to use a new all-aluminum 6.4L V10, rather than, say, a modern 427 V8. They followed the original formula of big engine + tiny car, but if you ask me, those 3 digits on the badge are more important to a spiritual successor than horsepower alone. If you’re curious, those numbers were 605.
So why didn’t the concept car live up to its name and why didn’t people throw enough deposits down at their local dealerships to convince Ford to put it into production? At the time, there was another V10 powered, open top coupe on the market: the Dodge Viper. Wasn’t that the original spiritual successor to the original Cobra?
I chose to share this model with LaLD today because the actual concept car is being auctioned off for charity. At the time of writing, its already been marked as sold on the auction house’s website. Any time a manufacturer transitions its concept cars into the realm of private ownership is beyond cool in my eyes. Apparently the proceeds are going to go towards the restoration of Henry Ford’s Fair Lane estate.
Sadly, the auction page says the Ford Motor Company will permanently disable the drivetrain so that the car cannot be driven. This is America after all, so liability and stuff. It also says the engine will still be fully operational, so hopefully the new owner decides to make the car drivable once again rather than keep it as another museum piece. I’d like to think that’s what Mr. Shelby would have wanted.
EDIT: Results are posted, the car sold for $825,000! I guess it wasn’t as unloved as I thought.