At $13,250, Would Buying This 1997 Ford Mustang Cobra Mean That You Can Tell Shit From Shinoda?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Larry Shinoda worked on two of the most iconic cars in American automotive history—the Chevy Corvette, and Ford Mustang. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mustang Cobra is from the year of Shinoda’s passing. Will its price however, get a pass?

I didn’t have the first clue as to what I would do with yesterday’s tactical defense grade 1990 Jeep Wagoneer Limited, and based on the comments, most of you were of a like mind. The majority of you didn’t like its $8,495 price either, sending it packing in a 56 percent Crack Pipe loss.


I would say that the Chevy Corvette and Ford Mustang are both cars that bring happiness to their owners. I mean, why else would you buy one? Certainly not for their basic utility or fuel efficiency. Larry Shinoda was an automotive designer who got to work on both car lines and by all accounts he was a pretty fun guy, so much so that he got himself kicked out of the Art Center College of Design after chaffing against the school’s tightly regimented curriculum.

Over the course of his career, Shinoda would bounce between Ford and GM over the years, with stints at Packard and later AMC thrown in for good measure. One of his most legendary projects was the design of the Mustang Boss 302 performance package. It was so named because it was an under the radar project and when anyone asked Shinoda what he was working on, abode’d tell them it was ‘the Boss’s car.’

That Boss was Bunkie Knudsen, another GM ex-pat who came over to Ford in the mid sixties. He unceremoniously got the boot in September of 1969 just as his namesake (jobsake?) Mustang was hitting the market. Shinoda would follow him out the door.


The relationship between Shinoda and ‘Stang was a short one, but having created one of the model’s most iconic editions it certainly was fruitful. 


That might just explain why his name is emblazoned on each flank of this 1997 Mustang SVT Cobra. It should be noted that lurid, over the top decal packages were de rigueur in the ‘70s, and stood in for actual performance that had been neutered by the era’s smog and fuel economy demands. Back then you could get snakes and stripes straight from the factory, many of them in technicolor acid trip hues. Today, you need to turn to the aftermarket to get your expressiveness on.

Now, let’s be clear here: this is not some special Larry Shinoda designed Cobra, it just wears decals from the shop that still carries his name. The seller somewhat dances around the car’s provenance, noting in the ad:

Research Larry Shinoda and discover more of why they did a tribute to him in 1997 after he passed away. It is disputed as to what modifications and components make an officially “Shinoda Cobra Mustang”. For this reason the seller assumes the buyer will do research to determine what special designations above and beyond that of a Cobra.


Okay, so it happens to be an SVT Cobra—certified to be #3109 out of 6961 produced for the 1997 model year. That also happens to be the year of Larry Shinoda’s passing so there’s that. The seller claims even greater rarity, stating that it’s one of 659 SVTs built that year with the 250A package, a collection of options that included the Mach 460 stereo, leather upholstery, and an anti-theft system.


I would wager, that’s not that big a deal to the majority of you. More interesting is what’s under the hood. That’s a hand-built supercharged edition of Ford’s 4.6-litre DOHC ‘Modular’ V8. Good for 305 horsepower from the factory, this one should better that with its Kenne Bell twin-screw blower. One would imagine it sounds pretty good too.

It’s described as ‘show-winning’ and does present nicely in the pics. The car comes in Crystal White over Saddle leather and the aforementioned Shinoda graphics. A Saleen spoiler has been affixed to the boot lid, and the wheel arches are extended with subtle flares. Aftermarket wheels sit below those, however the ad notes that the original wheels will also come with the car.


Additional mechanical updates include ceramic coated headers, high-flow cats and Ford Racing 3:73 gears in the rear end. The interior has gained a number of A-pillar gauges which are hit or miss on the approval scale around here. There’s also an aftermarket knob for the T-45 five-speed and an ostrich pattern snood on the steering wheel. The car comes with just 60K on the clock and a clean title.


Okay, so it’s got Larry Shinoda graphics, which you can still pick up today if that’s your thing. But outside of paying tribute to the Boss 302’s designer, that’s where the connection ends. What you’re let with is a pretty clean and low mileage supercharged SVT Cobra, and that’s not a bad thing at all. The question for you is: could that be worth its $13,250 asking?


What do you think, is this Shinoda-ized Cobra worth that kind of cash? Or, does that price make this a Mustn’t-ang?

You decide!


Denver, CO Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.