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    Solid Car, Fractured Story: Why This Excellent D-Type Was a Bargain

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Collector Car News

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While a top speed test was not performed, the Road & Track crew estimated 182 mph was possible



1966 shelby cobra 427 super snake


Originally built as the "Cobra to end all Cobras," CSX 3015 represents the high water mark in the horsepower race of the '60s. Carroll Shelby built it for no other reason than to see how fast it would go.

The Super Snake featured here is remarkable in many ways. First, it was designed and built under the direction of Shelby himself as his own personal car.

The car still has its original date-coded big block engine, its original Girling BR & CR calipers, and the original differential oil cooler and pumps. Under its massive aluminum hood lies the most radical motor ever assembled at Shelby American-a twin supercharged 427 with two Holley four-barrel carburetors. Attesting to the power of this engine, Road & Track tested CSX 3015 in 1968 and recorded 0-100 mph times in the low seven second range. While a top speed test was not performed, the Road & Track crew estimated 182 mph was possible.

The Super Snake is a powerhouse whose pedigree and originality silence all critics. With its massive power plant, beautiful Guardsman Blue exterior, and impeccable lineage, it is, without a doubt, the "Cobra to end all Cobras."

{analysis}{auto}894{/auto} This 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake sold for $5,500,000 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 20, 2007. It represents the highest price ever paid for an American automobile at a public auction.

CSX 3015 started life as one of twenty-two 427 competition roadsters, the likes of which were not selling well at the time. Originally invoiced to Shelby American in early 1965, the car was not completed until December of that year, and promptly shipped to F.A.V (Ford Advanced Vehicles) in England, supposedly for duty as a promotional vehicle. The car was returned to Los Angeles in the latter part of 1966 and totally rebuilt as one of two "Super Snakes."

IF ONE BLOWER WAS GOOD...



The distinguishing feature of the SS lies in its drivetrain. The normally aspirated 427 was boosted by twin Paxton superchargers. At the time, these were being fitted to a limited number of Shelby GT350 Mustangs, and if one blower was a good idea, why not two? Because of the space needed to house the two blowers, an experimental Edelbrock XF8 cross-ram manifold was deployed so the two Holley carburetors could be moved laterally to the sides of the engine.

The transmission was a Ford C-6 automatic, used, primarily, in Lincolns. The rationale to vacate the sturdy Toploader four-speed has been the subject of speculation for years. Don McCain, a long-time SAI employee, whose credits include the building of the Harr Ford 427 Dragon Snake, commented that it was a question of whether any production clutch could handle the torque demands of the engine. "Besides," he said, "Carroll really wanted to drive something that he didn't have to shift." Sometimes the simplest explanations make the most sense.

0-60 mph in in under 4



The car was fast. In 1968 Road & Track achieved 0-60 mph times in the 3.8 second range, with the quarter-mile coming up in 11.86 seconds at 115 mph. Horsepower output was reputed to be about 800, but that number was provided by Shelby, and the editors at R&T had trouble publishing an undocumented number of that magnitude. After several road tests, and not wanting to offend ol' Shel, the writers deemed the power to be "more than adequate."

The second Super Snake, CSX 3303, was sold to actor/comedian Bill Cosby in 1968. Shelby networked the Hollywood crowd as well as anyone, and chided the comic for his addiction to foreign sports cars. Cosby finally succumbed to the Texan's needling and purchased the second SS. If there was a love affair with the car, it didn't last long, as Cosby returned it within a month. The story goes that the car scared the daylights out of him, but generated good material for his nightclub routine.

After Cosby, 3303 made its way to S & C Ford in San Francisco. The next owner was Tony Maxey, who was ticketed by the CHP for speeding, then lost control of the car and launched it off a cliff into Half Moon Bay. The car was demolished and Maxey died a few days later.

Around the same period, Shelby sold CSX 3015 to Jimmy Webb, the noted song-writer, for a paultry $10,500. Webb was famous for writing a number of hits for Glen Campbell, including "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Webb later told Shelby that he had turned down $1.2 million for the car during the collector car bubble of 1989-90.

SEIZED BY THE IRS AND SOLD



Unfortunately for Webb, his accounting skills didn't match his songwriting skills and he wound up owing the government millions in back taxes. CSX 3015 was seized by the IRS and auctioned off in 1995 for $375,000.

As mentioned earlier, the $5.5m paid at Barrett-Jackson for CSX 3015 represents a high water mark for any Shelby. Only the Daytona coupes come close. This sale is, indeed "rare air" and there are not many other Shelbys that can aspire to the price paid for CSX 3015. Excluding the coupes, CSX 2000 (the small block Cobra prototype); CSX 3002 (the first 427 roadster); and CSX 2196, (the incomparable Ken Miles "Flip Top") are the only contenders, in my opinion.

But that still doesn't explain completely why this 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake brought this price. In 1968, when Shelby first advertised CSX 3015, he added new luster to the word hubris. While unsold 427 roadsters were gathering dust in Ford showrooms like so much military surplus, he sold his own used car for 50% more than the price of a brand new Cobra.

This year, the Super Snake and its creator (who was on stage) put on an encore performance, to the delight of thousands of viewers at Barrett-Jackson, and hundreds of thousands more watching at home. Shelby passionately extolled the greatness of his former heartthrob, CSX 3015. If you had the means, how could you walk away from owning this piece of history, and this moment of theater? How many times do you think the new owner has watched the replay of his purchasing the car? And when you have so much money that money doesn't matter, what you really end up buying are experiences. Like this one.{/analysis}

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