2004 Ford Shelby Cobra Roadster Concept Car

One of the most famous vehicles in muscle car history is the Shelby Cobra of the 1960s. The car was designed to do two things: go fast and win races. Shelby achieved this result by wedging a big engine into a small, light car body. The car did very well in competitions, but lackluster sales in the US led Shelby to end production in 1967.

Ford provided engines for the original Shelby Cobras, and in 2004 the company wanted to show off a concept vehicle that reflected upon the motorsports heritage of the Shelby Cobra.

I caught up with this Ford Shelby Cobra Concept Car at the Arizona International Auto Show a few years ago. While it has a number of differences from the original Cobra, it stays true to the philosophy of “big power in a small package.”

The first thing you’ll notice about the car is its exterior. It is still a roadster with a large grille opening, a hood scoop, and some racing stripes, but that is where the similarities end. The car exhibits clean, modern lines that are very subdued in nature. The prominent front fenders have been toned down and the lighting and exhausts deeply recessed into the body.

It has the same front-engine, rear-drive layout as its predecessor. However, Ford did not stay true to the original 427 cubic inch V8 engine. Instead, they chose a 390 cubic inch all-aluminum V10 that makes a massive 605 horsepower and 501 foot-pounds of torque, without a supercharger or turbocharger! Paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, Ford estimates the car could hit a top speed of 260 mph.

Of course, this is just a concept car which was never intended for mass production. It shares many suspension and chassis parts and the rear end from the Ford GT, in spite of being almost 2 feet shorter than the limited production supercar.

Will Ford ever make a serious attempt to revive the Cobra? For now, it doesn’t look as though they will. However, concepts like this give us something cool to dream about.

UPDATE: This car was sold at a Mecum Auctions event in Monterey, California in August 2021. The car is a 1-of-1 fully functional prototype and it sold for a stunning $2,640,000, blowing past its pre-sale estimate of $1.5-$2 million.