This Gorgeous, Never-Restored 1964 Shelby Cobra Is Heading to Auction

An iconic Shelby Cobras is about to hit the open market.

The 1964 289 Cobra “Snake Charmer” will be auctioned off by RM Sotheby’s next month in Monterey, Calif.. Any original Cobra is special, of course, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one as well maintained as this single-owner example.

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The “Snake Charmer” Cobra was bought by Henry “Hank” Williams, whose family is now selling the car, in March of 1965. The decorated World War II hero and jazz musician, who was a Black man, had been looking for Corvette but was ignored because of his race when he visited a Chevrolet dealership. He responded by driving to the nearest Ford dealer, in Pomona, Calif., and buying this Cobra, but not without some hassle over its availability. It would turn out to be a good purchase. Williams held on to the car until his death last year, racing it in nearly 400 races up and down the West Coast. During Williams’s time on the scene, he’d become friends with none other than Carroll Shelby himself, who nicknamed him the “Snake Charmer.”

Inside the 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra "Snake Charmer"
Inside the 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra “Snake Charmer”

Williams’s Cobra, chassis no. CSX 2227, left the factory in Princess Blue but he’d eventually re-painted it in Silver Mink. That wasn’t the only way he customized the car, as he also added a hood scoop, five-spoke wheels, and a retrimmed red Naugahyde interior. The car also comes with the removable black hard top from an earlier Cobra, which Williams acquired so that his wife would be more comfortable when she drove the car around town.

The roadster is powered by a numbers-matching 289 cu-in V-8 which Williams modified with dual four-barrel carburetors. He also added sway bars to the suspension. As gorgeous as the car is, it’s never been restored, only meticulously maintained, though the engine did have to be rebuilt during the 1980s.

The 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra "Snake Charmer" with its hard top attached
The 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra "Snake Charmer" with its hard top attached

The “Snake Charmer” Cobra will hit the block as part of RM Sotheby’s annual Monterey Car Week auction, which runs from Thursday, August 15, to Saturday, August 17. No estimate has been made publicly available, but considering the significance of the car it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it sell for somewhere in the upper six-figures if not higher.

Click here for more photos of the 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra “Snake Charmer.”

The ‘Snake Charmer’ Shelby Cobra in Photos
The ‘Snake Charmer’ Shelby Cobra in Photos

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