There’s no such thing as too much power, right?
Well, Carroll Shelby decided to find out — and also see how fast a Cobra could go — thanks to a friend in a Ferrari that seemed to always have an edge on his 427 on the road to Lake Tahoe. The formula was simple: take a Comp Cobra with a 427 side oiler, add a special Edelbrock XF8 Cross-Ram intake, twin Paxton superchargers and an automatic transmission from a Lincoln that could hold up to the power. With that, the Super Snake was born.
The result? A 60 mph run in 3.8 seconds. A quarter-mile time of 11.80. An estimated 800 horsepower. Theoretical 200-mph top speed — theoretical because nobody was crazy enough to actually try it. And a taillight view for that Ferrari.
Road and Track called this car “The Cobra to End All Cobras.” Shelby’s Al Dowd called the car a beast after goosing it on a freeway onramp and ending up pointing the wrong way. “That car was lethal,” he said. “We were lucky no one ever killed themselves in it.”
Shelby built two of these: CSX 3015 (this car) and CSX 3303. Strictly speaking, only one of them remains. CSX 3303 was first delivered to Bill Cosby and then promptly returned to Shelby because Cosby thought it was too much of a handful. He was right. It eventually ended up in the hands of Tony Maxey, who managed to launch it and himself off the Pacific Coast Highway and into the Pacific Ocean. Maxey didn’t make it, but I hear the remains of the car were recovered and rebuilt. It’s a Shelby, after all.
This car, 3015, was Shelby’s own personal ride, at least for a time. The car first spent a year in Europe before being delivered to Shelby in California, probably for promotional duty. After it arrived, Shelby and his team set about making it into the ultimate Cobra. He used it in the “Turismos Visitadores” fun run in ’68, but reportedly blew the engine and decided to offer the car for sale.
Songwriter Jimmy Webb bought it for $10,500 in 1970, and he kept it for decades. According to the Shelby Registry, in 1991, he wrote a letter about it to Shelby: “I am eternally grateful to you for creating such a magnificent monster. I have defended this car tooth and nail against accountants, wives and girlfriends for almost 20 years.” He couldn’t defend it against the IRS, however, which seized it and sold it at auction in the mid-’90s.
It appeared for sale at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction in 2007, where it sold for $5.5m to Ron Pratte — setting an auction record price for Barrett-Jackson at the time. When Pratte sold cars from his collection in 2015, it appeared at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale again, then selling for $5.1m. I was there to see it sell both times, and both times it was the star of the show.
And that brings us to today. The car’s on offer at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale 2021 sale, where it will cross the block at no reserve in March. What’s in store for the Shelby to beat all Shelbys?
Key to this whole conversation is the 427 Cobra that Mecum sold at Kissimmee in January — CSX 3178 — which set a record price of $5.9m. That car was in Carroll Shelby’s collection from when it was new until after Shelby’s death, and two bidders pushed its valuation into the sky in an attempt to own it. Life is short, right?
As I mentioned in Linkage #002, that sale was further proof of Shelby’s legacy looming large these days — and there’s a serious need among buyers to strike when the iron is hot. Well, it doesn’t get much hotter than an 800-hp supercharged, carbureted monster with side pipes and an appetite for Ferraris. Especially when it was Shelby’s car and designed to be over-the-top from new.
Does anyone else sense a new record on the horizon?