Here’s Why The Shelby Cobra Super Snake Was The Craziest Sports Car Of The ’60s

On its return from a promotional tour of Europe, the Cobra 427 Competition (CSX 3015) was selected for conversion into a street-legal race car. One of the fifty-six 620-hp Cobra 427s built for the 1965 racing season was given a windshield and a muffler. In addition to that, the engine was detuned to produce 485 ponies, an impressive figure considering the vehicle’s lightweight.

However, Carroll Shelby, who had his sights higher, wanted to build the meanest Cobra – a “Cobra to end all Cobras.” He achieved his objective, and thanks to a set of two giant superchargers, he created the iconic Super Snake. Without any driver assist feature, the “King Cobra” banged out numbers that are as fantastic today as they were in the sixties. Today, the Shelby Cobra Super Snake is an iconic classic car. Here’s why it was the craziest sports car of the ’60s.

9 Twin Superchargers

One of the features that stands the Shelby Cobra Super Snake out is the enormous bulge that the hood carries. Although it makes the Super Snake look meaner, the real purpose was to create room for the massive blowers that Shelby stuck under the hood.

To create the ultimate Cobra, Shelby had to stick a set of two Paxton superchargers to the engine. Having two superchargers working as one on an engine is something that only a handful of car builders have successfully achieved.

8th Multimillion Dollar History

For a car that was not developed for the market, the Cobra Super Snake has an expensive history matched by only a handful of cars. The CSX 3015, driven by Shelby for decades, was first auctioned off at Barrett-Jackson in 2007 for a record $5.5 million.

Heading back to Barrett-Jackson in 2015, $400,000 was shaved off its value when it changed hands for $5.1 million. Going under Barrett-Jackson’s hammer yet again in March 2021, the Cobra Super Snake went home with a new owner after matching the 2007 price of $5.5 million.

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7 phenomenal performance

To make a monster out of the already monstrous Shelby Cobra 427 S/C, Shelby attached two giant Paxton superchargers to the 7-liter V8 engine. As a result of this, an engine that was already making 485 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque now produced 800 hp.

It was paired with a three-speed automatic transmission, and it sent the Super Snake to 60 mph in about 3 seconds and a top speed of nearly 200 mph. Built without the use of space-age materials, it can hold its own against most modern sports cars.

6 Track pedigree

The Cobra Super Snake started life in 1965 as a Cobra 427 competition model explicitly designed for the tracks with its V8 producing 620 ponies. Missing the 1965 racing season, unsold competition models were transformed into the street-legal versions known as the S/C models.

It is two of these S/C models that Shelby injected with a massive dose of adrenaline to create the “Cobra to end all Cobras.” Proudly showing off its racing lineage, the Super Snake retained the two massive exhaust pipes used in the race-spec Cobras.

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5 No cricket

One feature that distinguishes the Super Snake from other vehicles is the absence of the production grille from the enlarged opening in the nose. Looking down the gaping hole, you can see the fans and part of the vehicle’s drivetrain.

Although there are bars to which a bumper could be attached, the Super Snake has no proper bumper. To provide a source of ambient air to the powerful engine underneath, the custom-built hood has a large scoop on top.

4 Insane Power to Weight Ratio

The Super Snake’s stellar performance results from an insane power to weight ratio that exceeds what most supercars can boast of. Tipping the scales at 2282 pounds, the Super Snake, with its 800 hp power plant, has a power to weight ratio of 0.35.

In comparison, the Bugatti Veyron producing 1182 hp, has a power-to-weight ratio of 0.29, the Lamborghini Aventador has 0.22, while the McLaren Senna has 0.26. Generally, since a higher ratio means a higher speed, it is not surprising why the Super Snake is such a beast on the blacktop.

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3 Built for personal use

Although one of the two Cobra Super Snakes built later became a sensation at Barrett-Jackson, none of them had a sticker initially. Shelby made the CSX 3015 for his personal use, while the CSX 3303 was a gift to comedian Bill Cosby – his close friend.

Legend hath it that Bill Cosby drove it only once, and finding it too powerful and aggressive, returned it to Shelby. However, CSX 3303 finally ended up at a dealership in San Francisco, while CSX 3015 landed at Barrett-Jackson auctions decades later.

2 One Of A Kind

In addition to being the rarest of all Shelby Cobras, the Cobra Super Snake is also one of the rarest American classics around. Out of a total of 998 Cobras built, while 56 units became competition models, and 31 units became S/C models, only two units became Super Snakes.

The CSX 3303 ended up in the hands of Tony Maxey, who lost his life in a crash that totaled the car, leaving only one surviving Super Snake. Although there are more imitation Cobras on the roads than originals, the King Cobra reigns supreme in a class of its own.

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1 Minimalistic design

Shelby had to keep the design as minimalist as possible to keep the overall weight down and achieve superior performance from the Super Snake. Since the Super Cobra was a race car first and a road car second, Shelby’s priority was how to make it as fast as possible.

From the flat door panels to the simple seats; and from the flat dash to the simple center tunnel, everything was function-focused. As scary as it may sound, the serpent came without proper seat belts – a serious design flaw if there ever was one.

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