Shelby Cobra from 1965 / 1966 “SUPER SNAKE”

Lot #1301 – Cobra To End All Cobras. CSX 3015 is absolutely the real deal. CSX 3015 is one of only 23 427 competition roadsters built. On September 7, 1965, CSX 3015 was shipped and invoiced to Ford Advanced Vehicles, England, as a 427 Cobra Competition roadster together with CSX 3014 (another 427 Cobra Competition) and two R-model Shelby’s (5R107 and 5R209) for a European promotional tour. It returned back from Europe in late 1966 still as a 427 Cobra Competition. Sometime early to mid-1967, CSX 3015 was transformed into the Super Snake and reclassified as 427 Cobra Semi-Competition (S.C.).

The reason was quite simple; a 427 Cobra Competition didn’t have mufflers, windshield, bumpers, etc. It was a race car only and not street legal. Although many SC’s were raced and never saw a public road- all 427 Cobra SC’s had titles and were legal to drive on public roads. 427 competition and SC Cobras have different hips and noses. The February 1968 Road & Track pictures clearly show the hips and nose of a 427 competition roadster, not an SC. As history shows, CSX 3015 is one of two Super Snake Cobras built. The other being CSX 3303 built for Bill Cosby. CSX 3303 was a 1967 427 street car retained by Shelby American as a PR car and then made into a Super Snake for Bill Cosby. Cosby’s record album titled “200 MPH” attests to the fact of why he only drove it once before returning it to Shelby American. Shelby American sold it to S and C Motors in San Francisco, who then sold it to their customer, Tony Maxey. Maxey destroyed himself and CSX 3303 by driving off of a cliff and into the Pacific Ocean. I know have had a ten year ownership history with an original, un-molested 427 Cobra Competition CSX 3017. When CSX 3015 arrived home, CSX 3017 was already on jack stands for comparison. After thorough inspection, CSX 3015 is a full Competition Roadster, still retaining its original body with its 1967 aluminum ‘Super Snake’ hood. Steve Davis and I scraped through two layers of paint; black and Viking blue to find its’ brilliant Guardsman Blue. It has its original date coded 1965 Competition Girling CR and BR calipers. It still has its 427 Competition 377 rear end with its original rear end oil cooler and pumps. Unbelievably, it still has its original 1965 date coded engine block, 5M17, December 17, 1965. I found that 3015 still had its original headers with its original chromed side pipes that had been spray painted flat black! In fact, I found CSX 3015 so ‘period original’ I have opted to renew instead of restore. Why is CSX 3015 so historically significant? Carroll Shelby. He built at a time when Americans were just Americans and proud to be Americans. He told me he built it just to see how fast it was and he told me it was a Monster that threw belts off on a regular basis. How cool is that!

How about maybe 14.5 seconds? Get that, 14.5 sec­ onds to accelerate to 100 miles an hour and then stop again. Until something better comes along, that may have to stand as some sort of high water mark in performance for cars that are readily available to the general public. That figure, mind you, is obtainable by the average Cobra driver with the regular 8.15 x 15 Goodyear Blue Dot street tires. Cobra test driver Ken Miles has done the job in as little as 13.8 seconds, and who knows how much improvement could be made with racing tires that would nullify some of the tre­ mendous wheel spin?

The 427 Cobra does accelerate and decelerate at unbelievable rates, as the above figures should imply. What’s more, it is a more civilized machine than the original 289 Cobra that brought the fabulous Shelby organization into being four years ago. It handles properly, thanks to a completely new all-independent suspension system that is traceable to the deft hand of Klaus Arning, the Ford Motor Company genius re­ sponsible for the impeccable handling of the Ford GT.

Everyone at Shelby is more than candid about ad­ mitting that the handling of the original Cobra was considerably less than optimum. In fact,  C/D  was once informed by a Shelby lieutenant that the old tubular AC chassis had considerably less torsional rigidity than the rail frame of a Model T! Coupled with this flexible frame was an antiquated suspension system, designed in the post-war years, that utilized leaf springs and lower wishbones. One staff member recalls a partic­ ularly painful day in southern California when he was outrun down a bumpy orange grove lane by an MG 1100. “There I was, with all that Cobra horse­ power, and the rear wheels were bouncing and leaping around so badly that I could barely keep the beast on the road, much less catch up to the MG. It was terrible!”