The Dragonsnake Is Back

The Dragonsnake Is Back

TGR Staff - 06/03/2023

Shelby American has announced that three "new" 1965 Shelby aluminum continuation "Dragonsnake" roadsters will be available through a partnership with Legendary GT Continuation Cars. Two of the three Shelby Cobra roadsters were unveiled today at the Carlisle Ford Nationals presented by eBay Motors in Pennsylvania.

“Last year, we worked closely with Legendary GT to return the small block Shelby drag racing Cobra roadster to production,” said Gary Patterson, president of Shelby American. “After introducing those cars at the Carlisle Ford Nationals, we received many requests for a big block version since only one was factory-built in 1966. Three of these amazing tribute cars will be available and it felt appropriate to introduce that reimagined 427 Shelby Dragonsnake roadster at Carlisle this year. The improbable just became possible for those who dreamed of owning one.” 

The Shelby 'Dragonsnake' program started in the 1960s when Shelby American production employees developed and drag-raced two roadsters with great success. The initial five cars were powered by a small block (289 c.i.d.) Ford engine and had a leaf spring suspension. Shelby American also offered these parts to customers who wanted to build their own drag cars. 

In 1964, the Harr Ford dealership in Worcester, Massachusetts, modified a Shelby Cobra into a Dragonsnake and achieved success while racing it. Two years later, Harr Ford purchased a factory Dragonsnake, which was equipped with a Ford 427 engine, independent suspension, a fiberglass hardtop, and side windows.

The Dragonsnake Is Back

When they received plate number CSX3198 in 1966, Harr Ford painted the car a bright Candy Apple Red. The dealership's driver, Gus Zuidema, began setting records, and his best time was 10.02 at 146 MPH. The Dragonsnake from that time is still in existence today.

“Our founder, Barry Smith, has a significant history in drag racing a 427-powered Shelby car,” said Parker Shepley, Business Manager at Legendary GT. “While Barry wanted a big block Cobra as a young man, he could only afford a 1967 Shelby GT500 Mustang. He replaced its 428 street engine with the same 427 motor in the Shelby Cobra. Memories of quarter successes with the Shelby GT500 inspired Barry to put the drag-racing Shelby Cobra roadster back into limited production. With modern technology, we almost doubled the horsepower to deliver mind-bending acceleration.”

The Carlisle Pennsylvania Fairgrounds hosts Ford fans from across the country and annually showcases over 3,200 vehicles on the National Parts Depot Showfield. The weekend event features impressive cars, large crowds, displays, special themes, and appearances by automotive celebrities. Notably, the limited-edition Shelby Cobra was unveiled during the three-day event. 

“From experimental cars like the Green Hornet to the 1967 Super Snake and Cobra Dragonsnake, some special Shelby programs could not be put into full production during the 1960s,” said Vince LaViolette, Shelby American Vice President of Operations. “We enjoy working with Legendary G.T. because they dive deeply into these heritage projects. They continue Carroll’s legacy with iconic cars that feature modern technology yet maintain the essence of what made them so desirable.” 

Three Dragonsnakes are already in production (CSX3085, CSX3365 and CSX4500). They were assembled by Legendary GT in Pennsylvania, which builds continuation Shelby cars for Shelby American. The chassis is authentic with 4-inch round tube main rails; the original style suspension has adjustable Penske shocks, as well as rack and pinion steering. Other touches include 1965 factory-style disc brakes, an aluminum radiator, an electric fan, and custom exhaust. 

The Dragonsnake Is Back

Inside, the Shelby features SW Gauges, a dash-mounted tachometer, 3-inch lap belts, black leather seats, and door pull straps, a dash-mounted rearview mirror, a passenger grab handle, a glove box, a custom shift knob, a stainless roll bar. The car rides on authentic 15-inch custom wheels with Mickey Thompson rubber; the rears are 28-inch x 10.5-inch M/T Drag tires. 

Vibrant styling drove much of the demand for the continuation of 289 Shelby Dragonsnakes last year. The new trio features the ‘Super Snake’ Cobra hoods made famous by the road car that Carroll built for himself and sport dazzling paint hues. 

The aluminum roadsters include a blue metal flake car with a Shelby 427 engine (CSX3365); the second has a dual carbureted polished 427 engine with twin polished superchargers (CSX4500) inside the polished all-aluminum body. The final Dragonsnake (CSX3085) was painted red and is nicknamed the ‘King Cobra’ with ‘KC’ emblems in the rear window; it has a 496ci fuel injected dual carbureted engine with twin superchargers that churn out 910 horsepower. The aluminum Shelby motors are connected to a robust TREMEC 5-speed manual transmission.

 “Barry Smith is a major supporter of the Carroll Shelby Foundation,” said Patterson. “A donation to the charity will be made with each car sold. The new owner will become a member of the club Team Shelby and their car will be documented in the official Shelby American Registry.” 

Depending on options, the three cars will have an MSRP starting at $750,000.