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Iconic 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra “Snake Charmer” Surfaces at Auction

Iconic 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra "Snake Charmer" Surfaces at Auction

RM Sotheby’s is set to auction the iconic 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra, famously known as the “Snake Charmer,” originally owned by Hank Williams. This single-owner sports car, cherished and meticulously maintained by Williams for nearly 60 years, stands out as an extremely rare find — now being offered by Williams’ family.

Known for its numbers-matching body and engine, it retains its original build sheet and sales form. The car has never been restored, only maintained, showcasing a fabulous patina. Williams, a decorated WWII hero and accomplished jazz musician, purchased the Cobra from Norman Ford in Pomona, California, in 1965. Despite facing racial discrimination at a Chevrolet dealership, Williams secured the Cobra after a brief dispute over its availability.

Nicknamed “Snake Charmer” by Carroll Shelby himself, Williams raced the Cobra in nearly 400 events across the West Coast. The car was customized with a rare removable hardtop, Silver Mink paint, red Naugahyde interior and performance enhancements. Williams’ racing career and friendship with Shelby are well-documented, with the car becoming a staple at numerous Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) events.

The Cobra is accompanied by an extensive collection of memorabilia, including over 260 trophies, original documentation and Williams’ iconic racing jacket and team shirt from Shelby. Exhibited at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, the car remains in Williams’ name on the original 1965 title.

This auction offers a unique opportunity to own a piece of automotive history, continuing the legacy of Hank Williams and his beloved “Snake Charmer” Cobra. At the time of writing, the vehicle’s estimate is only available upon request, with bidding set to go live starting August 15 as part of RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction.


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