Shelby Cobra [1964-65]
Credit: Getty Images

Number made: 655 289s, 348 427s (est.)
What one will cost you: $125,000- $150,000 (289), $190,000-$245,000 (427)
Horsepower: 390
Engine: 7.0 liter, overhead-valve V-8
Top Speed: 160 mph
0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds

History: "Suddenly, I saw the light," said racer/carbuilder/former chicken farmer Carroll Shelby. "The light, strong, tubular AC [a British carmaker] chassis was the ideal medium for an American V-8." Thus inspired, the big Texan shoehorned a Ford V-8 (first a 289-cubic-incher, then a 427) into the AC roadster, and the Shelby Cobra was born. The Cobra hit the international sports-car scene like buckshot from a 12-gauge, sending European manufacturers scrambling to build more powerful racing cars. Shelby eventually took his cars to contest the Ferraris at Le Mans, giving these Texas mongrels credibility to spare.

Design: Shelby inherited the Cobra's shape from AC, and the body was itself derived from the European barchettas, or "little boats," of the fifties. What made the Shelby Cobra so appealing was its detail – the crooked shift lever, the just-visible steel hoses in its mouth, the fat fenders, the gumball rear tires, and barely there chrome roll hoop. The car also spawned the drop-dead-gorgeous Cobra Daytona endurance-racing coupes, which in turn inspired the Dodge Viper.