The story goes that after a few employees at Carroll Shelby’s small car company created a drag-strip-focused version of the Cobra on their own time, Shelby approved a tiny production run of this quarter-miler called the Dragonsnake. Not legal to drive on the street, they could be ordered from the factory or customers could have their Cobras fitted with Dragonsnake components like a chrome roll bar, new tachometer, revised rear fender flares to fit fat drag slicks on American Racing wheels, and sliding side windows. Only five left the the factory, four fitted with the 289-cubic-inch V8, one got the 427-ci monster. Hemmings says that including the converted customer cars, there are no more than ten Dragonsnakes in the world. The number’s about to grow by five, Shelby American announcing a run of continuation cars built by company partner Legendary GT Continuation Cars.
The first one you see above is dedicated to drag racer and NHRA champion Bruce Larson, a man the organizing body calls “NHRA’s original triple-threat Pro driver.” In 1963, Larson drove Jim Costilow’s 289 Dragonsnake to class honors at the Winternationals, Springnationals, and Indy U.S. Nationals, setting records throughout the year in the process. Larson took the Nationals again in 1964. Because Larson was working at a Chevrolet dealership when he did this, the dealership owner had Larson in a Chevy by 1966. But the Cobra had proved itself a winning race car in yet another discipline, and would keep claiming trophies into the late sixties.
The remaining four continuation Dragonsnakes will start as an aluminum slab-side roadster in the CSX2000 series, meaning based on the original 289-ci chassis. The tube rails are four-inch round units, the engine is a 364-ci V8 with an aluminum block and eight Weber carbs making 500 horsepower, fed by a 14-gallon gas tank and Holley electric fuel pump. It’s shifted through a Tremec five-speed manual to spur a car weighing roughly 2,100 pounds. Inside, an 8,000-rpm tach mixes with black leather seats, leather door pulls, a rearview mirror, glove box, custom shift knob, and stainless steel roll bar. Other kit includes an aluminum radiator and electric fan, rack and pinion steering, adjustable Penske shocks, 1963-style disc brakes, a custom exhaust, polished side vents and chrome bumpers, and vintage Cobra badges. The car sits on 15-inch vintage FIA wheels wearing Mickey Thompson tires sized 29 x 4.5 in front, 28 x 10.5 in back.
Each Dragonsnake costs $750,000 before options and takes about a year to build. That’s lots of pretty pennies, but only half the price of an original 1965 Dragonsnake sold at Mecum’s Kissimmee 2022 for $1.375 million.