There are few last names that have stood the test of time like the one held by Mr. Shelby. In the early days, the legendary car builder carved a niche for himself by pairing a lightweight chassis with a powerful engine. While the goal was to make these vehicles fast around the road course, there were other opportunities to utilize the potency of a Shelby Cobra that did not involve turning. This opportunity would present itself in the early ’60s when a group of young Shelby American employees decided to take a pair down the dragstrip to see how they would perform.
“The 1960s Shelby ‘Dragonsnake’ program began when a small group of young Shelby American production employees developed and raced a pair of the roadsters to amazing success,” says Gary Patterson, president of Shelby American. “Carroll was so impressed that he approved three more to be built for customers. We reopened Dragonsnake production so fans can experience the thrill of launching a ‘new’ Shelby Cobra down the quarter-mile. While only a few could order a new Cobra roadster personally from Carroll Shelby 60 years ago, five people have the chance to do so through his company today.”
Even though the original Dragonsnake’s production run was limited to only five units, it provided inspiration to other Shelby American models decades later. One such unit was the CODE RED released on August 20th, 2022 at the 2022 Woodward Dream Cruise. Instead of premiering the Dragonsnake continuation in Detroit, Michigan, the team at Shelby American presented it to the crowd at the 2023 Carlisle Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. A fitting location, as the state is home to both Legendary GT who is crafting these chassis’ and Bruce Larson who made the Dragonsnake a racing legend.
The unveiling of the first of five Shelby American Dragonsnakes revealed a car that pays homage to Larson and his ability to make the Cobra a dragstrip terror in 1964 and 1965. The body is sprayed in Fuchsia metal flake paint and comes with a hardtop, chrome bumpers, hand-painted graphics, early-style Cobra badges, polished side vents, and “Powered by Ford” badges. The Cobra rolls on 15-inch custom FIA wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires. Under the hood of the 2,100-pound chassis is a small-block engine that produces 500 horsepower from a mere 364 cubic-inches. The power is transmitted to a five-speed TREMEC transmission.
If you’re reeling from the fact that you did not buy one of Shelby’s original Dragonsnakes and you still desire the thrill of launching a menacing Cobra down the strip, then look no further, as Shelby American is upholding American hot-rodding at its finest by reopening the ordering books for a “new” Dragonsnake.