Owners may come and go, but Legends are assuredly forever. In the case of this 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Roadster, the owners have - at best - been stewards. Stewards, let us say, of what is without a shred of doubt, a hugely significant piece of automotive history.

Photos: Mecum Auctions

The fully documented history of this car begins with a slight bauble, where the name of the original buyer is unknown. That owner began the unusual history of the Cobra by rolling it on a rainy afternoon and damaging some of the body panels in the process. The vehicle was sold to a Mr. Dennis Henningsen, who determined that the chassis was not damaged and contacted Shelby American to purchase replacement body parts. In an unexpected turn of events, Carroll Shelby sold him the complete body from CSX3005 - the fourth 427 Cobra built.

A third owner actually completed the rebuild process and two more owners came and went, until the car found a degree of stability with Bill and Bud Jones, of Roanoke, VA, who acquired the roadster for the princely sum of $9,527.22. While they have carefully looked after the 427 Cobra, they have also been generous in sharing it with others. Regular appearances at Shelby American Automobile Club events have filled the brother's shelves with awards.

At this time, the Cobra shows just 17,300 miles on its odometer. Under the hood, you'll see the jaw-dropping 427-cid "side oiler" engine, topped by twin Holley four-barrel carbs. CSX3102's limited slip differential and 36-gallon competition fuel tank reveal a captivating twist in its history. You see, body number 3005, on chassis 3102, is the only known Cobra body modified for a Cobra Team effort at Le Mans.

CSX3102 was to have been raced at Le Mans by Bob Johnson of Columbus, OH. At the time, however, the Shelby team began to focus on GT40 efforts and the Le Mans project was discontinued. Unfortunately, Johnson never did race the car. The balance of the carefully documented history of this Cobra reads like an inspired novel, but with its significant past firmly rooted in reality.

The next steward of this piece of history will be determined at the upcoming Mecum Auctions' Muscle Cars & More event in Monterey, CA, on August 13 - 14, 2010. Bidding is likely to start at a level guaranteed to exclude the faint of heart and finish with two commas in the price tag. Additional information, along with an extensive and entertaining description by Ken Gross, is available at the auctioneer's web site.

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