CSX3173 Vehicle Information and History:
This 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra, CSX3173, much like the other Cobras from the Juliano Collection, is regarded as simply the best of its breed. Shelby American records show that it was billed to the company on September 2, 1965, shipped to Los Angeles, and Work Order No. 18065, “Build 427 Street Cobra CSX3173,” opened on December 8 and closed on January 6, 1966. On invoice A 1715 dated January 7, 1966, Shelby billed Archway Motors, Inc., of Baltimore, Maryland, a total of $6,398, including a truck freight charge of $310. CSX3173 arrived at Archway as ordered, painted in Silver Mink metallic with a black interior and packing a genuine dual-quad FE side-oiler 427 CI V-8 with cross-bolted mains.
Its first owner, Dodge Olmsted of Arlington, Virginia, took delivery on February 12, 1966. In April 1966, Olmsted brought the car, now with 1,335 miles on the odometer, to Koons Ford in Falls Church, Virginia, to have a crimped brake line replaced and a proper hanger fabricated and installed; the work was done under warranty at a cost of $29. Olmsted owned the car barely five months, selling it to Doug Casey of Chesterton, Indiana, on July 14, 1966.
Casey drove CSX3173 only briefly, but he certainly seems to have enjoyed it while he did, because his ad in the October 15, 1966, issue of “Autoweek” advertised the car at “6000 miles, perfect condition.” Casey also placed ads in the November 1966 issue of “Road & Track” priced at $6,800 and the December 1966 issue of “Car Life,” stating “1966 Cobra 427. Silver/black, 6000 miles, perfect. Original cross-bolted 2-4V 427, not a 428. Best offer over $6200. May trade for cheaper street or competition car.”
By 1968, the car appeared repainted in black and was purchased by William Pickford of Washington, DC. CSX3173 was again advertised for sale in July 1970 as “1966 Cobra 427, black, black exterior, new tires, mint condition. $8000.” Federal Park Police Officer Gordon Creed of Virginia responded, buying the Cobra and taking advantage of his effective exemption from speeding tickets to engage in the occasional street race on the George Washington Parkway in Maryland, often against his friend Don Silawsky of Edgewater, Maryland, in CSX3350.
Creed kept the car until the summer of 1972, when he ran an ad stating “1967 Cobra 427 Roadster, No. 3173, considered the ultimate sports car at 500 hp, black with black leather interior, Halibrand mags with new 10” belted tires, Blaupunkt AM-FM stereo, capacitive discharge ignition, tonneau & top, never raced. Immaculate. $8900.”
James Currie of Erie, Pennsylvania, became the new owner, driving CSX3173 for almost seven years. During that time Currie made a number of cosmetic and mechanical improvements, including repainting the car to its original silver metallic and replacing the exhaust system, before announcing in the spring of 1978 that he was open to offers. “It is in excellent shape,” his ad concluded, “if interested, send offer.” While it is not known if Currie received the $40,000 he reportedly wanted, he eventually sold CSX3173 to Jim Southard of Marietta, Georgia, in late 1978. Southard later offered the car at $48,000, after which Dick Steamer of Mendon, New York, purchased it.
In 1986, California resident Walt Somerville purchased CSX3173, before offering it for sale at $250,000 in July 1987 with Sunburst knock-off wheels and an original Blue Dot spare tire in the trunk.
In August 1987, CSX3173 was sold to the Japanese Fromo Corporation and exported to Japan. Following ownership by a series of four owners in Japan, in 2007, CSX3173 returned to the United States and was discreetly offered for sale. Steven Juliano bought the car in 2010 and, along with Dave Riley, endeavored to make the low-mile and completely unmolested CSX3173 into the most correct and accurate 427 Street Cobra possible. Expertly refinished in its original and stunning Silver Mink color, every detail of the car was made to be correct to the smallest detail. A Juliano hallmark, only original or NOS parts were used, from its original set of five 8.15×15 Goodyear Blue Dot tires to all-original weather equipment, right down to NOS 1966 spark plugs, air and even oil filters. It is a car that quite simply, in the words of SAAC Cobra Registrar Ned Scudder, is “so good most concours judges don’t even understand it.”
Juliano displayed CSX3173 once, at the 2012 SAAC National Convention at Watkins Glen, but otherwise it has never left his private collection. With only 260 original “427” Street Cobras produced, once one deducts the roughly 100 examples that left the factory with 428 Police Interceptor engines, that leaves roughly just 160 true 427 Cobras. From that number, deduct the large number that have had their engines, or worse, replaced or have been crashed, salvaged or simply destroyed, and there just aren’t a lot of truly pure 427 Street Cobras in the world today. And that was what led Juliano to pick CSX3173 as his ideal 427 Street Cobra. It is indeed perhaps the finest and most correct example that exists today, in one of the rarest colors available, with a fully documented ownership history, its original Shelby American window sticker and simply unobtainable original parts throughout. It is no exaggeration to say it is likely impossible to duplicate the quality and correctness of CSX3173 at any cost. It is also not hyperbole that this car being publically available for the first time in more than three decades is indeed an opportunity for an astute collector who fails to settle for second best, just like Steven Juliano.
Sold at the Mecum Indy (2019) classic car auction on May 17, 2019 for $2,420,000
All images courtesy of Mecum.