Twice Bitten – Bruce Cambern’s 1966 427 Shelby Cobra
When Carroll Shelby developed the Shelby Cobra in the early-’60s, performance and racing were primary goals. Shelby’s recipe of a powerful American V8 stuffed into an aluminum-bodied British sports roadster proved successful – Cobras claimed victories in a scores of racing series and venues throughout the ’60s, with drivers like Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant behind the wheel. The 427 Cobra easily claimed the title of fastest American car for years and earned legendary status among enthusiasts.
Due to their heritage and scarcity, most original Cobras today are coveted as collector’s items, not true racing machines. People speculate more about their value than their performance capabilities. That’s understandable, but unfortunate – like admiring a cheetah in a cage.
Fortunately for us, Bruce Cambern, the owner of this ’66 427 Shelby Cobra, is not content to let it sit idle. Bruce is the Cobra’s original owner – he ordered this car, serial number CSX3170, back in November 1965. He raced it extensively in the ’60s and ’70s and for the past several seasons has had driver Scott Fraser flogging the machine in Goodguys AutoCross competition. It has been a thrill for Goodguys racers and spectators alike to watch a car of this caliber compete.
True to Shelby form, the Cobra has dominated the Goodguys Duel in the Desert the past two years, claiming back-to-back FAST AutoCrosser of the Year titles. You can read more about Fraser’s most recent win here.
To stay competitive after more than 50 years, Cambern’s Cobra has been significantly modified, though the original Shelby equipment – including the engine, transmission, and rearend – is securely stored away. The stock frame has been sleeved to increase stiffness and benefits from custom-built front and rear suspensions, JRi Shocks, and a Kirkham aluminum differential.
For the 2019 season, Cambern had new front hub carriers built with integral steering arms and caliper mounts. A Bosch Motorsports Mark V racing ABS brake system was installed to reduce braking distance and improve stability, which required designing tone wheels for all four wheels, along with active sensor mounts. Six-piston Baer calipers pinch 13-inch full-floating disc brakes in front, with 12-inch rear rotors squeezed by four-piston Wilwood calipers. The Jongbloed center-lock wheels measure 19×10.5- and 19×12-inches and wore Bridgestone Potenza rubber when competing in Scottsdale.
There’s still Ford FE power under the Cobra’s hood, but it’s an all-aluminum 440c.i. setup built by Kinetics Race Engines using a Shelby block, Sonny Bryant crank, CP-Carrillo rods, Comp camshaft, Dailey dry sump system, and 15:1 Wiseco pistons. Raised-port Blue Thunder heads massaged by ET Performance are also part of the mix, along with an Edelbrock Victor Jr. manifold outfitted with a Wilson throttle body, Bosch injectors, and FAST XFI controls. The combination is good for 820hp at 8200rpm. A McLeod clutch transfers the power to a Jerico dog-ring four-speed transmission.
The cockpit is pretty much what you’d expect from a race-ready Shelby Cobra. It’s got a single seat stitched in vinyl, Smiths gauges in the stock dash, and a Schroth safety harness. The steering wheel is a modern Momo piece, while the shifter is a vintage Toploader item. The car’s aluminum body remains original, with Drew Serb getting credit for the PPG Silver Mink finish.
Fraser earned the number-one qualifying spot in the Duel in the Desert and got faster through the shootout, resulting in a commanding win in the final round to capture his second AutoCrosser of the Year win in a row. Seems like a fitting victory for this potent piece of Shelby history.
Photos by Goodguys Staff