Cobra Blues Cheer Toy Car Collectors
by Doug Breithaupt

Last year I saw first hand the power of the original Shelby Cobra. One of my more pleasant duties is to serve as rallymaster for the Annie & Steve Norman Classic Motorcar Rally, a vintage TSD/Monte Carlo style rally. As part of the 2002 event, we organized for all the rally cars to visit a local elementary school where 300 kids would have the opportunity to see and even sit in a variety of 'sporting motorcars'. Participating collector cars included models from Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, MG, Austin Healey, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Corvette and a 1965 Shelby Cobra. The kids were thrilled with all the great old cars and the Cobra was one of the last to arrive at the school. I was directing the Cobra to a parking space and the kids reaction to this car was amazing. Almost before the wheels stopped, a mass of kids enveloped the car with exclamations of joy and awe. They were not sure what it was but it clearly looked and sounded like something wonderful. I had a moment where I understood how it must feel to be associated with a famous movie or rock star. It was literally necessary to force a path through the kids to get out of the melee. For 40 years now, this has been the reaction to the original Shelby Cobra.

Somehow the combination of the AC body and Ford V8 created a whole that exceeded it's parts. Toy car makers have found their Shelby Cobra models to be some of the most popular ever produced. Hot Wheels was first with their 427 Cobra casting. It has been done in many colors with metal and plastic bases. It was produced in blue with white stripes as part of the 'Real 'Riders' series, sporting rubber tires that looked right for the car. More recently, the same casting was released in the 'Legends' series with metallic blue paint, detailed trim and rubber tires. The hood opens to show eight exhaust stacks.

The second Cobra model is sometimes overlooked. Produced by Zylmex in their 'Pacesetters' series, it offered a decent casting and racing colors in the same blue and white. Wing windows provided an authentic touch missing on the Hot Wheels model. Johnny Lightning offered a Cobra model in their budget series that was later offered as a 'Rock 'n' Roller' model, complete with The Rip Chords' 'Hey Little Cobra' on CD. Hot Wheels offered one of their best in the 'Collectors' series when they produced the racing Cobra Daytona Coupe. This excellent model is just right in the now essential blue and white Cobra colors. Latest to the dance is Matchbox with their best casting of the last several years. Originally produced for the Elvis series, for 2003 it appeared in a perfect metallic blue with white stripes as part of the Barrett-Jackson series. To my eye, this is the best example of the open Cobra and represents what Matchbox could be if not hog-tied by Mattel. This Cobra is easily the best Matchbox casting produced under Mattel ownership. Other Cobra models have been done but I do not have blue and white examples.

Hot Wheels (Real Riders)

Hot Wheels (Legends)

Zylmex (Pacesetters)

Johnny Lightning (Rock 'n' Roller)

Hot Wheels (Collector)

Matchbox (Barrett-Jackson)