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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2012, 03:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nedsel View Post
Not hardly. Just two people who are passionate about the legacy of these cars and want their histories to be recorded truthfully and appropriately.
Amen to that.

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It still leaves some grey areas for cars that were clearly built by the factory as drag cars, but whose precise specifications were never fully documented in the day, with respect to their legitimate claim to the Dragon Snake moniker.
That's really at the core of it, Ned, especially when an authenticated Dragon Snake can easily bring twice as much (three times in the case of my car) than a sparsely documented wannabe.

My view of what makes a Cobra an authentic Dragon Snake is basically a distillation between factory specs and what SAAC says: " ... equipped with a specially built 289 Ford dragracing engine, slicks, wide base wheels, hardtop, and specially set up suspension" (Shelby) and " ... complete, turnkey drag cars" (SAAC). And you're right, that does leave grey areas for cars not specifically invoiced as "Dragon Snakes" or "Drag Cars".

The first thing I eliminate from that area is the engine. Shelby filed three engine combinations with NHRA. One of those was the stock 289/271 HP for D/SP. That means a Cobra equipped with the stock 289 could have been sold as a Dragon Snake.

Conversely, the fact that a Cobra was sold with a high output motor didn't automatically make it a Dragon Snake. People did buy high performance Cobras for the street. I commuted with mine for a while, and even made a few deliveries for the print shop I owned. All with the original Webers, high lift cam, 380+ HP, and a 2,040 lb pressure plate. What makes perfect sense when you're thirty tends to be somewhat less of a good idea in retrospect.

Next, the hardtop. Not a mandatory requirement back then for sanctioned drag racing, as long as you had a roll bar. It was either or, your choice. CSX2427, one of the six Dragon Snakes, competed with a soft top and a roll bar. That's her in the black and white attachment.

Finally, the special drag suspension. In light of Shelby's haphazard record keeping during the early years, having to prove that a car was delivered with altered leaf springs and drag shocks is probably asking too much.

That leaves slicks, wide base wheels, and something every drag car absolutely had to have, the mandatory scattershield. You didn't need it for stoplight drags, but you couldn't race without it. Scattershields don't have much of a personal preference factor ("I like mine in blue"), so if someone custom ordered a competition drag car, having a scattershield installed at the factory would have been a given.

That scattershield has to be documented. And since most cars ordered for road racing also came with scattershields, so do slicks on pin-drive mags to separate a drag racer from a road race car. Documentation can be in the form of an invoice or other factory record, or, if invoiced as a "Race Car" or "Racer," proof that the car competed in an NHRA sanctioned event.

Two simple requirements that qualify a Cobra as a "factory prepared turnkey drag car," i.e. a Dragon Snake. Not too much to ask to have spelled out somewhere, when what's at stake are a few hundred thousand extra dollars at the auction.

BTW, one thing I really wish the sporadic barn finders would refrain from is describe their car as "one of the six original Dragon Snakes." What gall! Which of the six authenticated cars do they want eliminated to make room for their discovery, or are they so mathematically challenged that 6+1 doesn't equal seven?

I guess it's the age we live in.
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Last edited by Hal Heindel; 11-25-2012 at 04:32 AM..
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2012, 04:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMH View Post
Were any of these cars originally bought as street cars but returned to SA for modification? Would they then be classified as "Factory Built" cars?
Larry
Good question, Larry. I'll let Ned answer that. It could be an issue with CSX2416 when that car was returned for a respray. Was new paint the extent of it, or did the factory convert the car into a Dragon Snake at that point? Highly unlikely, since the invoice was for just $249.50, with the work described as "Repaint chassis 2416 '64 Ford Rangoon Red."
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:06 AM
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thanks Hal and Ned for posting this information


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Old 11-23-2012, 04:01 PM
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2416 was ordered and delivered as a drag car, painted Princess Blue, with the Stage III (Weber-carbureted) 289, a hard top, and American Racing alloy wheels. The car's invoice makes no mention of altered springs, shocks, or slicks. It was returned to Shelby American two weeks after its delivery to Frye's for a repaint to Rangoon Red. Among the questions that remain unanswered: Did Frye's Ford order the car for themselves, or for a customer? If the former, did they plan to campaign the car for publicity purposes? If the latter, why did he return it for a color change? And, regardless of who ordered the car, why was it apparently lacking some of the features Shelby recommended for a drag car? I'm not sure satisfactory answers to these questions will ever be found. BTW, CSX 2416 is the car pictured in front of Shelby's Carter Street building in Dave Friedman's book "The Shelby American Original Archives" on page 86, and in Colin Comer's "The Complete Book of Shelby Automobiles" on page 20.
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Old 11-23-2012, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by LMH View Post
Were any of these cars originally bought as street cars but returned to SA for modification? Would they then be classified as "Factory Built" cars?
Larry
None of the drag cars were returned to Shelby for modification, but at least one street car was sent back to be converted into a road-race example, and that was CSX 2290. Following its rebuild, it was successfully raced by its owner(s) independent of the factory. And because the work was performed at the factory, it is considered a legitimate "factory-built" comp car, classified further as an "independent comp" since the factory itself did not race it. This car sold at a 2012 Monterey auction for $1.2 million.
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nedsel View Post
None of the drag cars were returned to Shelby for modification.
Good to know.

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... at least one street car was sent back to be converted into a road-race example, and that was CSX 2290. Following its rebuild, it was successfully raced by its owner(s) independent of the factory. And because the work was performed at the factory, it is considered a legitimate "factory-built" comp car, classified further as an "independent comp" since the factory itself did not race it. This car sold at a 2012 Monterey auction for $1.2 million.
I couldn't agree more with you and, by extension, SAAC on that classification. Had CSX2019 been sold to Randy Berry as a PR and movie car, then returned by Randy to the factory for conversion into a Dragon Snake, the car should absolutely have been classified as a legitimate factory-built, independent comp "Dragon Snake."

Thanks, Ned, for the official clarification.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Nedsel View Post
2416 was ordered and delivered as a drag car, painted Princess Blue, with the Stage III (Weber-carbureted) 289, a hard top, and American Racing alloy wheels. The car's invoice makes no mention of altered springs, shocks, or slicks ... Among the questions that remain unanswered: Did Frye's Ford order the car for themselves, or for a customer? ... And regardless of who ordered the car, why was it apparently lacking some of the features Shelby recommended for a drag car?
Ned, no matter what side we'll eventually come down on, CSX2416 leaves more than a few questions unanswered. The short answer to whether the dealership ordered the car for themselves can probably be found in the Registry: "Having been specially ordered, it was sold immediately to Brent Ascough, Jr. (Topeka, KS)."

As for why the car was apparently lacking some of the features Shelby recommended for a drag car? CSX2416 didn't just lack some of those features, it lacked ALL of them. The only feature that separated Brent's car from an ordinary street Cobra was the Stage III engine, and as I pointed out earlier, even a car equipped with the street 289/271 motor would have qualified a Cobra for D/SP racing. In fact, the factory offered just such a car as a Stage I Dragon Snake for $6,795. Classifying a Cobra as a Dragon Snake merely because of the Stage III engine is folly. By that reasoning, every 289 street Cobra ever built would fall into the Dragon Snake category.

But here is what I question the most: Why would anybody in their right mind custom order a Cobra for sanctioned dragracing, spend $8,684 and still have to go out and scrounge the most essential bits, when for a measly eleven dollars more he could have ordered a complete turnkey Stage III Dragon Snake? Am I the only one who finds that peculiar?

Here is what I mean. For his $8,684 Brent received the following items that didn't come with the Dragon Snake package (and might have gotten him laughed right out of the staging area):

Front grille and rear bumper guards
Exhaust pipe tips
Wind wings
Sun visors
Heater
Radio and antenna
sway bars
polished mag wheels

What he didn't get, but would have received (and needed for NHRA competition) had he ordered the $8,695 Stage III Dragon Snake package:

Scattershield
Competition pressure plate
Competition clutch disc
4.89:1 Differential gear ratio
Halibrand pin drive magnesium wheels
Racing slicks
Competition front and rear springs
50/50 lock-down shock absorbers
90/10 up-lock shock absorbers
Competition tachometer
Roll bar

My take on this? Brent bought himself one incredible sleeper Cobra for the street. Compare the two lists again, then see what you think the intent was. Had Brent bought a full comp Dragon Snake to cruise Main Street, here are some of the things he would have had to exchange (at extra cost) as soon as he took delivery, and I suspect Brent knew that:

4.89:1 Differential. Try to hook up 325 horsepower with that kind of gear ratio in a 2,200 lb car, and no slicks. You'll get beat by a girl in a Chevy Nova.

The wide rear wheels would have been Ok (I know, I ran CSX2019 on the street with the wide Halibrands), but the choice of rubber that would fit those wheels was severely limited. I used the biggest Dunlops available, and those were barely wide enough.

Brent would have had to replace all four shock absorbers, then install the two swaybars not found on Dragon Snakes (there aren't many turns in a 1/4-mile drag strip, and swaybars just add weight and screw up the suspension).

Replace the steel headers. One of the first things that goes away when you drive a Dragon Snake on the street is the leather boot on the firewall around the steering column. Those headers can get glowing hot with the Webers, and they're only an inch or so away from the leather boot. Without the boot, you'll never again have to worry about cold feet. Never mind that one of the header pipes is right next to the master cylinder which sometimes expands the brake fluid and locks up all four wheels in rush-hour traffic. Lots of things you don't have to worry about when every trip you take is no more than a 1/4-mile.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Didn't even mention the 2,000 lb pressure plate. I had friends comment on how light the clutch was. That's because they had taken up an inch of dead play and then hit a brick wall.

And yeah, Ned, good question: Why did the car go back to the factory for a color change? If you really want to go drag racing, why wouldn't you get a custom paint job with snazzy graphics done locally like everyone else?

In hindsight, I bought a used race car for the street for $3,600 because the standard 289 HiPo wasn't fast enough and I really wanted those Webers. For a tad more than twice that amount I could have done what Brent did and ordered a brand new Cobra for the street with a monster motor that was just as quick and way more civilized and even came with a radio.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnSk...A&feature=plcp

Look what I'm complaining about!
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Last edited by Hal Heindel; 11-25-2012 at 07:56 AM..
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:53 AM
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Hal, all good points and perfectly reasonable questions. But as I said earlier, the time for good answers is likely behind us and we may never be able to do more than speculate as to why things happened as they did.
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Old 11-24-2012, 11:31 AM
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... the time for good answers is likely behind us and we may never be able to do more than speculate as to why things happened as they did.
Maybe so, Ned, but I'm not a big fan of speculation. Logic and circumstantial evidence, that I can deal with. I see a guy jump off the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of January and I'm ready to accept that he wasn't doing it to cool off. As Benny Hill was fond of saying: "A priviledged glimpse of the bleedin' obvious."

Last edited by Hal Heindel; 11-25-2012 at 03:12 AM..
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Old 11-24-2012, 01:52 PM
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Brent Ascough Jr, are you out there?
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:07 PM
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Yes, he is, and the current owner of the car has spoken with him, however Brent is unsure of a lot of the details. Which is why I made the comment about good answers, etc. He is continuing to press him, in an effort to assist his recollection of the time period and exactly how Brent came to acquire the car and for what purpose. We can only hope some solid responses come through.
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:07 PM
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Brent Ascough Jr, are you out there?
Larry
Ah, don't we wish, Larry. But then, where would be the mystery?
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Old 05-04-2019, 03:59 AM
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Shelby Cobras at the upcoming Mecum Indy 2019 Auction

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRia...VB_tVhHisFdtp4

Thirteen years ago, my Cobra Dragonsnake sold at the Mecum Spring Classic auction for a million and a half. One of the four Cobras at this year's Mecum Indy 2019 (the yellow car) is an authentic Dragonsnake. The red 289 is not but is significant in its own right, one where Ned Scudder, the SAAC Cobra Registrar, and I expressed conflicting opinions on the Cobra Forum some years ago (on this thread).

Ned knows more about Shelby Cobras than anyone on the planet. Our disagreement about what makes a Dragonsnake a Dragonsnake wasn't personal. As Ned put it: "Just two people who are passionate about the legacy of these cars and want their histories to be recorded truthfully and appropriately." I'm thankful to see that the red CSX2416 car is no longer claimed to be a Dragonsnake.

It is, however, the only street Cobra ever sold with Webers. Wouldn't surprise me if it approached the million and a half dollar mark. The yellow Dragonsnake might actually surpass it. If I had Jay Leno's deep pockets, I'd snap up both. It would make one hell of an investment.
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Last edited by Hal Heindel; 05-07-2019 at 05:58 AM..
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:56 PM
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Since I had a hand in 2416's current history, I'll add my two cents. CSX2416 was a very special Cobra, no "street" Cobra came close to it as far as the option list and potential power. The option list of this Cobra would have put it right there as a "Slalom Snake" had that option been available at the time 2416 was built. The fact that 2416 went through the SAI race shop to receive its performance options is another reason that this Cobra is a factory competition Cobra, that is why it does not carry a standard "AC" foot box tag. The "AC" tag would have been removed, and replaced with the competition tag, because it carried an engine number stamping that did not correspond to the engine in the car any longer and since the competition engine carried no warranty there was no reason for a new engine number stamping. There is another thing that people have not thought about when the Cobra was ordered, the dealership was in the transitional phase of being sold. This may have lead to a "change order" in the preparation from "Dragon Snake" to just a very highly optioned Cobra, food for thought? This would have eliminated the dealerships involvement with drag racing, the cost and put car on the showroom floor that could be sold. The buyer (Ascough Jr) wanted the car in red and the dealership wanted a sale and did whatever it took to make that happen, including sending the car back to SAI for a rework. Working in dealerships previously I know this can happen, especially if the dealership already has a car on the floor that has cost them a bundle to begin with.
Ned had already provided me with the SAI accounting ledgers with the SAI heading of the ledgers stating that this Cobra was intended to be Frye (spelling, I don't have the notes in front of me) Ford's drag Cobra. Those are SAI's ledgers not Joe Smoe's ledgers. Nobody has brought up the fact that maybe the Cobra was delivered as a "Dragon Snake" and the new dealership owner decided that they didn't want anything to do with drag racing so they sent the car to have some of the modifications reversed, new rear fenders, new differential, sway bars, wheels and tires, etc. Maybe they did this to keep a Ford dealership owner happy so they would continue to order and sell Cobras? As Ned had previously stated, we may never know "WHY ?".

Ned had stated that he was only aware of one Cobra being sent back to SAI to be converted to a competition Cobra. CSX2049 was purchased as a well optioned street Cobra and was returned by the purchaser's son to SAI to be converted into a competition specification Cobra so that he could go racing, not as a driver but as the Cobra's owner. Both of these details have been verified by Paul Cunningham's (one of the hired drivers) step son who often accompanied Paul to the races and was in charge of towing the race car to the track and to SAI for upgrades. Unfortunately the information obtained from the driver's step son in regards to who did the competition work on the Cobra was learned after the most current version of the SAAC Registry had already printed.

Steven had an awesome restoration completed on CSX2416 and he should be very proud, RIP Steven I will miss hanging out with you on your West Coast visits. I was fortunate enough to have started the restoration on 2416 and did a lot of discovery work associated with it.
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Last edited by CompClassics; 05-06-2019 at 08:18 AM..
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Old 05-06-2019, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
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Nobody has brought up the fact that maybe the Cobra was delivered as a "Dragon Snake" and the new dealership owner decided that they didn't want anything to do with drag racing so they sent the car to have some of the modifications reversed, new rear fenders, new differential, sway bars, wheels and tires, etc. Maybe they did this to keep a Ford dealership owner happy so they would continue to order and sell Cobras?
Sorry, CompClassics. I've read your quote over and over and still can't make sense of it! But let's say "what if?" There is still the point I made earlier in this thread about the scattershield. Only a certified moron would remove a costly but effective safety item like a scattershield from a high performance engine and replace it with an inferior and potentially harmful street part.

Has anyone ever seen the damage an exploding flywheel can do when the fragments come flying through the firewall? I have. Back in the sixties I was working as a tank mechanic at Fort Hood, home of the first and second armored divisions. One of the M26 Dragonwagons came in for repair because the driver happened to be in the wrong gear going down a steep incline. He lost a foot in the incident, and his blood was still on the floorboard. Not one of my happier days in the U.S. Army.

Getting back to CSX2416, in the Mecum video for the forthcoming auction, Ned Scudder and Colin Comer, both recognized authorities on Shelby Cobras, clearly describe the car as "the most optioned STREET Cobra ever built." I couldn't agree more and hope this will be the last newly discovered Dragonsnake to slither out of the woodwork as yet another barn find.

FYI, the auction brochure for both the red and the yellow Cobra contains the most factual descriptions I've read about these two cars. I suspect Ned and Colin both had a hand in the write ups, and it shows. As auction literature goes, this brochure has established a new level. Kudos (and thanks) to Dana, Ned, and Colin for that.

https://www.mecum.com/lots/SC0519-37...obra-roadster/
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Old 05-06-2019, 11:19 AM
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Sorry, I did not complete my sentence, maybe the car was sent back to SAI to have some of the “Dragon Snake” items reversed back to a more street able configuration.
There has yet to be a complete photo of the 2416 in its blue paint, maybe when and if a photo ever surfaces it may answer some questions.
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:30 PM
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Sorry, I did not complete my sentence, maybe the car was sent back to SAI to have some of the “Dragon Snake” items reversed back to a more streetable configuration.
Therein lies the problem, CompClassic, reverse what Dragon Snake items? As originally delivered, CSX2416 had none of them to begin with. Save for the Stage III motor, all the options Brent received fall into the "Convenience" category. The high output motor? Who wouldn't have loved to cruise up and down Main Street on a warm Saturday night to show off those Webers? FYI, when jetted for the street, they're rock solid, if a little thirsty. I've regularly driven my Dragonsnake that way.

Options on CSX2416, as originally delivered:

Front grille and rear bumper guards
Wind wings
Sun visors
Heater
Radio and antenna
sway bars
polished mag wheels

Items Frye would have had to ask SAI to remove had it been a Dragon Snake, to make the car streetable (and street legal because of the racing slicks):

Competition pressure plate
Competition clutch disc
4.89:1 Differential gear ratio
Halibrand pin drive magnesium wheels
Racing slicks
Competition front and rear springs
50/50 lock-down shock absorbers
90/10 up-lock shock absorbers

The scattershield and dash-mounted Sun tachometer that were Dragon Snake specific not only could have stayed, but should have.

Last edited by Hal Heindel; 05-07-2019 at 06:17 AM..
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Old 06-25-2020, 01:42 PM
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I might ad, the AC Foot box VIN plate was removed during the modifications by SAI’s race shop and a competition type plate put in it’s place noting that this chassis was modified for competition use. There is no denying that fact.
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Old 06-25-2020, 03:12 PM
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I might ad, the AC Foot box VIN plate was removed during the modifications by SAIís race shop and a competition type plate put in itís place noting that this chassis was modified for competition use. There is no denying that fact.
It's been 13 months since the last post on this thread, maybe it's time to just let it go.
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Old 06-26-2020, 01:00 PM
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It's been 13 months since the last post on this thread, maybe it's time to just let it go.
True,well at least it now looks like csx2416 has found a new owner.
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