Gearheads, to follow up with the auction of the First Shelby Cobra ever built, today we will cover the last 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake.
After the last article, where we discussed the first Cobra ever made, today we are talking about another rare Shelby. The 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake was designed to be THE car to beat at the track. In 1966, Serial number CSX 3015 S/C was pulled aside to be made into a legend. This car was converted into a special car that was supposed to “the Cobra to end all Cobras”. Carroll Shelby decided he wanted to make it into a beast that would instill fear in anyone that saw it, and I feel he did that without any issue.
The car was part of a promotional European tour, then after the tour it was outfitted for street driving. The conversion was essentially a matter of building the Cobra as a full racing model, and adding only the bare minimum to make it street legal. This required a few modifications here and there, but he wanted to retain all the original racing parts where possible.
Conversion Of A Monster
The conversion included adding street legal mufflers, a windshield and bumpers, and making minor modifications required to pass the USA standards. However, some things were not modified, including the racing rear end, brakes, and long tube headers. Shelby decided since this beast was going to be the Cobra to end all Cobras, it needed to have the power to back that claim.
I can just imagine what that conversation must have been like at the shop. “”Boys, stuffing a 427 big block with dual carbs in a convertible car the size of a g0-kart just isn’t enough..what can we do to make it better?”. The answer – of course – was to stuff TWO Paxton Superchargers in the engine compartment along with the big block 427. Yep, they went there.
“When I built this dual supercharged 427 Cobra in 1966, I wanted it to be the fastest, meanest car on the road,” said Shelby. This was part of the fun of being Carroll Shelby. The end result was a car that produced 800 horsepower – in what essentially amounts to a convertible the size of a Miata. I hope it also came with replaceable seat covers!
A Legend Is Born
Shelby loved this Super Snake so much, he decided to pull Serial Number CSX3303 off the line and make it into a Super Snake as well. This one was built for Bill Cosby, who was a fan of Shelby cars at that time. For some reason, Cosby said the car was “very difficult to keep under control”. I can’t imagine why that would have been true? An 800 horsepower go-kart should be quite docile, right? Cosby had been driving Ferraris, which topped out at 180MPH at that time. Cosby described the experience on his 1968 comedy album entitled 200MPH. This car was raw power, and topped out at over 200 MPH, hence the name of the album. Cosby was so scared by the experience of this pure block of raw muscle, he actually gave the car back to Shelby. Cosby could not seem to charm the snake.
When Shelby got the car back, he shipped it out to one of his Shelby partner Ford dealers in San Fransisco. The dealership then sold it to another customer, who also had trouble keeping the snake under control. This customer, named Tony Maxey, lost control of the car and drove it off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean. This was the end of both Tony and the only other Super Snake ever built.
Shelby’s Super Snake
Carroll Shelby decided to keep the first Super Snake, which is the one you see here. He drove it around as a personal car from time to time. Sometimes he would enter it into races like the Turismos Visitadores Cannonball-Run race in Nevada. The story goes that he used to like to unhook the headers from the mufflers when running the races, and would “wake up whole towns, blowing out windows, throwing belts and catching fire a couple of times, but always finishing the race”. Boy, what I wouldn’t give to have sat in that passenger seat!
The car is still mostly original, despite the racing and rough riding Shelby put it through. The car still has the original engine block, original headers, original brake calipers, and original rear differential. Considering how much crazy stuff Shelby did with this car, that is quite impressive.
So, there is only one true, original 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake left in the World. The only other one ever built ended up in the ocean. The car you see above is the only one left, which makes it extremely rare. This is the lone survivor.
Fate Of the Snake
If you remember from the last article, I mentioned the first Shelby Cobra ever built just set a new record for the highest sale price of any American made car. Guess what car it beat out for that record? CSX3015 – the last 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake in existence- was auctioned on January 22, 2007, at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event in Scottsdale, Arizona, for $5 million.
At that time, it was the highest price ever paid for a vehicle made in the U.S. Isn’t that just like Shelby? He always had to out-do himself, one way or another, even after he left the planet. The legend lives on.
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