Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake: Costs, Facts, And Figures

When it comes to iconic American cars that are downright monsters, the Shelby Cobra is up there with the best in terms of leaving a legendary legacy. The first road car built by Carroll Shelby, the Cobra started off as a small and lightweight British roadster known as the AC Ace, but was transformed into a beast when Shelby joined forces with them and ford to turn it into a V8 powered machine.

Modified to use a Ford small-block V8, the first Shelby Cobra was made in 1962, and the founding of Shelby American as a company came about to built it. A small car with way too much power, the little Cobra was a terrifyingly fast car, but that’s exactly what made it so great. Evolving through the next several years, the Cobra would reach several extremes in both racecar and road-going form, using Ford V8 engines from the 289 to the legendary 427.

While those 427 powered Cobras were the most brutal of the bunch, they would look downright docile compared to what was to come, specifically this monster, the 427 Super Snake. Only 2 were ever made and one was almost lost forever, with the one you see pictured here being Carroll Shelby’s personal car.

Recently sold for millions of dollars at auction, this wicked serpent is by far the most epic Cobra of all time.

The Birth Of The Ultimate Cobra

Within the hierarchy of Cobra models, the 427 cu-in V8-equipped ones reigned supreme. While initially based closely on the original AC Ace chassis, a new beefier one was designed for the 427, dubbed the Mk III. Equipped with all around independent coil suspension, as well as a wider, more aggressive design, this is the most iconic form of the Cobra, and the basis for many of the re-creation Cobras made today. Aggressive in design, the Cobra 427 also was as brutal as it got, with around 425 hp in road-going examples.

Extreme enough as it was, the Cobra 427 would get even more wicked in competition form, designed purely for race track use with up to 620 hp from that big V8. But, unable to be homologated for the 1965 race season they were designed for, a handful of the competition Cobras were converted into street-legal cars known as “Semi Competition” or S/C models with an added windshield, bumper, mufflers, and detuned engine making a still monstrous 485 hp.

In September of 1965, 2 Competition 427 Cobras and 2 GT350R Mustangs were shipped off to Europe for a promotional tour, and among those Cobras was one with the serial number CSX3015 – this specific car would become the Super Snake. Transformed into the street-legal S/C model on its return to America, in 1966 Shelby decided to turn CSX3015 into “the Cobra to end all Cobras,” and this was no exaggeration.

Double The Superchargers, Double The Power

As it was, the 427 S/C stood for some terrifying power in such a tiny car, and was among the fastest street-legal cars you could buy, to top this and create the ultimate Cobra would require some true insanity. Even with one supercharger, the 427 cu-in V8 would have produced wicked power numbers, but no, instead a set of 2 Paxton superchargers were fitted (pictured above) bringing power to a whopping 800 hp – a mind-blowing number even today, and some of the highest power for any street-legal car for 1966.

So great was this power, that the beefy 4-speed manual transmission used on the 427 Cobras just couldn’t handle it, and instead, a 3-speed automatic had to be used. To put just how brutal this power was into perspective, the Cobra weighed just 2,550 lbs, which was RWD, and a (relatively) simple design with no driver aides whatsoever, with this simplicity and immense power-to-weight ratio, the Cobra 427 Super Snake could bang out a 0-60 mph time of around 3 seconds flat – great numbers today, and almost unheard of at the time. Back when CSX3015 was auctioned off in 2007, Carroll Shelby himself commented that he was pulled over in it doing 190 mph on a Nevada highway, a perfect testament to the brutality of the Super Snake.

Barebones And Brutal — Like a Cobra Should Be

When it comes to “the ultimate Cobra,” ultimate refers to performance, and performance alone, as the rest of the car is barebones in typical Cobra fashion. Keep in mind, these were not luxury or comfort-oriented cars, as the Cobra was a diminutive roadster made to prioritize just one thing – going fast. As a converted Competition Cobra especially, the Super Snake was built for track use first, and street use second, this was reflected in the fact that 427 SC Cobras were street legal, but often saw more use on the racetrack

Wonderfully function-focused though, the Cobra Super Snake’s interior is more unique than the typical 427 model, with additional analog gauges on the flat dash, as well as the 3-speed auto’s T-grip shifter. Typical of other Cobras too, the “nice” points of its interior revolve mainly around a wood steering wheel and leather seats. Further separating the Super Snake, Caroll Shelby’s signature adorns CSX3015’s dash, a massive hood bulge and scoop adds exterior distinction alongside the solid Guardsman Blue paint – breaking from the typical striped look of Cobras. Otherwise, the Super Snake is only really different in just how monstrous its power is. With nearly double the power of a normal 427 Cobra, the Super Snake was as extreme as it got and would claim a casualty along the way.

A Terrific Car With A Multi-Million Dollar History

While CSX3015 was the first, 2 Super Snakes ended up being made. CSX3015 was originally built and owned by Carroll Shelby himself, but in 1970 it blew its engine while road racing and was ditched on the roadside. Sold to singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb that year, CSX3015 would trade hands several times in coming decades. Seized from Webb by the IRS in the early ’90s, CSX3015 was auctioned off, landing in the hands of Chris Webb, who auctioned it again in 1998 to Richard Scaife. Sold back to Chris Cox in 2006, CSX3015 would make history in 2007 when it set a world record auction price at Barrett-Jackson of $5.5 million. Sold once again at Barrett-Jackson in 2015, CSX3015 lost some value and sold for $5.1 million. More on its current fate later.

The second Super Snake, CSX3033, was built from a street Cobra rather than a competition model and would see a more tragic fate. A friend of Shelby’s at the time, this second Super Snake was given to now-disgraced comedian Bill Cosby. Returning the car not long after, Cosby claimed he was terrified of the Super Snake’s brutal power and aggressive driving characteristics, though it did inspire his 1968 album “200 MPH” with an entire skit dedicated to the car. Sold in 1969 to a car dealer in San Francisco, a customer named Tony Maxey purchased CSX3033 that year. Sadly, the ultimate Cobra was just too much of a monster, and Maxey lost control of it, driving off a cliff, killing him, and totaling the car – though it was restored and resides in a private collection today. As for the fate of CSX3015, Shelby’s personal Super Snake has seen much attention as of late, as it was auctioned at Barrett-Jackson once more in March of 2021, selling for $5.5 million yet again.

Sources: Barrett-Jackson Auction, Car And Driver, Robb Report

NEXT: Shelby American Reveals Exclusive Mustangs Including Limited-Edition Super Snake Speedster

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.