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1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

A 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Car: 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

Number produced: 6

Price at auction: $7.25 million

Shelby Cobra. Those two words hardly need an introduction, but the Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe has a fascinating history, one born out of America's desire to break into the European-dominated world of GT racing.

Shelby and Ferrari were engaged in an epic racing rivalry in the 1960s, one that pitted the Texan Shelby's hot-rod tuners against Italy's motoring aristocracy. Ferrari was dominating the F.I.A. World Manufacturers Championship GT class, but Shelby wanted to knock it off its pedestal.

They built the iconic blue-and-white coupe version of the Cobra, which featured a snarling Ford 289 cubic-inch V8. And win it did: The Daytona Cobra Coupe became the only American car to beat a Ferrari in world championship racing in Europe.

The fourth of the six coupes was auctioned off in 2009, and it earned $7.25 million on the block. That still holds the record for the highest price paid for an American car at a public auction [source: Mecum].

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