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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 09-01-2012, 06:34 AM
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Default DragonSnake Cobra: CSX2416

" VINTAGE: Rare DragonSnake Cobra Found " CSX2416

" Stored for more than 30 years, the factory-prepped drag racer is one of just two equipped with the ultra-rare 325-horsepower Shelby competition engine. "
SPEED Staff | Posted August 29, 2012 Carlsbad, CA "



VINTAGE: Rare DragonSnake Cobra Found
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Old 09-01-2012, 08:24 AM
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So has it been positively proven/established that CSX2416 is the second of two Stage III Dragon Snakes, along with CSX2427 that was shown at the Shelby Heritage Display at Laguna Seca? That's what the article seems to say.
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:06 PM
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The one and only handwritten Shelby American vehicle accounting ledger is in the hands of SAAC, and it clearly notes at the top of the 2416 page, "Prepare Frye's Ford Drag Car." That, coupled with the car's build costs and options, pretty clearly spells out how the car was built at Shelby American, and for what purpose.
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Old 09-02-2012, 02:34 AM
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And like so many ultra rare collectables once it has run the gamut of media frenzy it will end up back in a show room out of view of the common man.Just part of the reason why kit cars are so popular,making copies of these rare and beautiful pieces of history available to we enthusiasts that would never be able to own such valuable machinery.
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Old 11-21-2012, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nedsel View Post
The one and only handwritten Shelby American vehicle accounting ledger is in the hands of SAAC, and it clearly notes at the top of the 2416 page, "Prepare Frye's Ford Drag Car." That, coupled with the car's build costs and options, pretty clearly spells out how the car was built at Shelby American, and for what purpose.
That being the case, Ned, we may have to revisit just how many "Dragon Snakes" were built. Based on your post, there's little doubt CSX2416 was built as a drag car. On the other hand, I always thought Dragon Snakes were sold as such, since that's how they were marketed and advertised. To my knowledge, the term was never trademarked, so does that make any drag car sold by Shelby a Dragon Snake? And if CSX2416 is promoted as "one of the six Dragonsnakes ever built," which of the six now at www.shelbyford.com do we eliminate? Or do we increase the number built to seven?

Not being facetious here. Having sold CSX2019, the first of the two factory-campaigned Dragon Snakes, I no longer have a stake in maintaining the car's value. However, I do intend to protect the integrity of the brand. FYI, see the attached ad for the correct "Dragon Snake" spelling. Just out of curiosity, did CSX2416 leave the factory with a hardtop, drag shocks, modified springs, slicks, and different size wheels front and rear? These are all part of the specs listed in the ad, and what makes a drag car a Dragon Snake.

I'm currently giving the ShelbyFord website a makeover. Would be helpful to include the most up-to-date info. You're the acknowledged authority.
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Last edited by Hal Heindel; 11-21-2012 at 02:50 PM..
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by mdross1 View Post
And like so many ultra rare collectables once it has run the gamut of media frenzy it will end up back in a show room out of view of the common man.Just part of the reason why kit cars are so popular,making copies of these rare and beautiful pieces of history available to we enthusiasts that would never be able to own such valuable machinery.
Actually I know the owner of CSX2416 and he is restoring it to original specs, and will be racing it. He was originally going to restore it do drive on the street, but then discovered the provenance of being an original factory dragonsnake.

He also owns one of the six original King Cobras (cooper monaco chassis) and an original '66 GT350 and actively races them all on the NASA circuit.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:14 AM
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Hal Heindel View Post
That being the case, Ned, we may have to revisit just how many "Dragon Snakes" were built. Based on your post, there's little doubt CSX2416 was built as a drag car. On the other hand, I always thought Dragon Snakes were sold as such, since that's how they were marketed and advertised. To my knowledge, the term was never trademarked, so does that make any drag car sold by Shelby a Dragon Snake? And if CSX2416 is promoted as "one of the six Dragonsnakes ever built," which of the six now at www.shelbyford.com do we eliminate? Or do we increase the number built to seven?

Not being facetious here. Having sold CSX2019, the first of the two factory-campaigned Dragon Snakes, I no longer have a stake in maintaining the car's value. However, I still want to protect the integrity of the brand. FYI, see the attached ad for the correct "Dragon Snake" spelling. Just out of curiosity, did CSX2416 leave the factory with a hardtop, drag shocks, modified springs, slicks, and different size wheels front and rear? These are all part of the specs listed in the ad, and what makes a drag car a Dragon Snake.

I'm currently giving the ShelbyFord website a makeover. Would be helpful to include the most up-to-date info. You're the acknowledged authority.
Hal, while the factory drag Cobras used specific similar options, the "Dragon Snake" concept allowed for some individualism when customers placed an order. Hence, different cars received varying equipment, and - since the Shelby American paperwork didn't always list specifics- it is impossible to know exactly which cars were equipped with what options, as in most cases they were not called out on the billing invoices.

2019 and 2357 were, as you know, factory race cars, and were sold used to their initial retail buyers, and 2093 was a converted street car. None of these three, therefore, ever had a factory invoice detailing precisely what equipment they were given. One might assume the equipment listed in the limited advertising for the Dragon Snake describes how the factory set up their own cars, but the customer cars were ordered individually and given whatever parts the customer wanted. And these differed between the cars.

Additionally, the sales invoices weren't at all consistent in how they called out the cars: 2248 was simply listed as a "Cobra Ford" with no mention of modified shocks, springs, or a hardtop; 2427 was simply called a "racer" at an inclusive price of $8695; and 2472 was called a "Drag Car" on the invoice, priced at $7,660.82, and equipped with the "Stage II" engine and Koni shocks. 2416 was invoiced as a "Cobra Ford" but with a Stage III 289 engine with Webers and a special cold air box and exhaust system. We would not have known it was a drag unit but for the internal build records, which detail the cost of building the "Frye's Ford drag car" and reflect a price substantially higher than that of a street car. (The internal build records for 2019 list it as a PR car, 2248 has no notations at all beyond the costs, 2357 is listed as "Cobra Drag Car," 2427 is headed "Build Dragon snake for Richard Guise," and 2472 says "Build Hugas drag car." The 3198 record calls it a "Cobra Drag Unit.")

Even though we have no knowledge as to whether 2472 or 2416 were ever actually drag-raced, the factory records indicate that there were 6 small block Cobras built and sold as drag cars, i.e. Dragon Snakes, along with 1 427 example, and I think the website should reflect this fact.
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Nedsel View Post
The internal build records for 2019 list it as a PR car, 2248 has no notations at all beyond the costs, 2357 is listed as "Cobra Drag Car," 2427 is headed "Build Dragon snake for Richard Guise," and 2472 says "Build Hugas drag car." The 3198 record calls it a "Cobra Drag Unit."
Ned, I'm in almost total agreement with what you're saying except for this:

1. CSX2019 was initially built as a PR car but was invoiced by the factory as a "COBRA drag car" (see the attached). I also have a complete and detailed list of all the modifications made to it by the Shelby team under Leonard Parsons (some of those specs are attached - I can post the rest on the new website).

2. CSX2248 may not have notations on the invoice, but in my conversations with Hans Schmidt who bought and raced the car as "El Cid," the car was specifically ordered as a drag car, complete with scattershield and M&H drag slicks. See SAAC Registry - Dragonsnake 2248. It's possible Hans ordered the car before Shelby started advertising drag cars as Dragon Snakes. I'll have to dig through my pile of drag racing magazine to find the date of the ad.

3. As you've indicated, the remaining four cars were invoiced as either drag cars or drag units. And all were ordered for drag racing.

What bothers me with CSX2416 isn't so much what's missing on the invoice (such as the word "drag"), but what's included. As everyone knows, in drag racing, weight is the enemy. Every pound counts. So what dimwit custom orders a car specifically for drag racing with the following options:

Front grille guard, $24.00
Rear bumper guard, $ 30.00
Exhaust pipe tips, $7.00
Wind wings, $16.00
Sun visors, $13.50
Heater, $66.50
Radio and antenna, $45.50
Sway bars, $104.80
Polished mag wheels, $390.20

... then decides not to order pin-drive wheels with M&H slicks and the mandatory scattershield. And maybe a Sun tach. All of which were on Shelby's options list. The guys who dragraced Cobras back then all knew that the combination of 350+ HP and super sticky slicks quickly made mincemeat out of splines.

You mentioned that the handwritten accounting ledger states "Prepare Frye's Ford Drag Car." I'm assuming that's when the car was sent back to the factory for a repaint. According to the Registry, the Cobra was originally sold to Pete's Ford, who later changed their name to Frye. Any idea what's on the original 2416 ledger, or is that the only record there is?

Incidentally, CSX2472 also came with a heater and radio. Go figure!
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:24 PM
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:34 PM
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... the factory records indicate that there were 6 small block Cobras built and sold as drag cars, i.e. Dragon Snakes, along with 1 427 example.
Ned, on what page in the nice new leatherbound 1,618-page World Registry might I find that?

Thanks,
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Hal Heindel View Post
Ned, on what page in the nice new leatherbound 1,618-page World Registry might I find that?

Thanks,
Hal
That is not in the registry; it is based on the various pieces of factory paperwork I discussed earlier.

As for the paperwork on 2019 you illustrate, I agree the car was sold by Coventry as a drag car - which we knew it was - however the factory build sheet does not make any reference to it as such, nor was there an invoice from Shelby American to Coventry Motors that we have found that calls out exactly what equipment was on the car when it was first sold.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:25 PM
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That is not in the registry; it is based on the various pieces of factory paperwork I discussed earlier. As for the paperwork on 2019 you illustrate, I agree the car was sold by Coventry as a drag car - which we knew it was - however the factory build sheet does not make any reference to it as such, nor was there an invoice from Shelby American to Coventry Motors that we have found that calls out exactly what equipment was on the car when it was first sold.
CSX2019 has been well documented as to its history. Because the car began life as a PR car and was eventually converted by Shelby so they could race it as their first factory Dragon Snake, it had to be sold to Randy Berry as a used race car. How many build sheets would you say get produced for used race cars?

The car had to be sold through a Shelby dealer (Coventry) but was negotiated for, and air freighted directly, to Randy Berry. I have no idea what Coventry sold the car as. All I know is that it was "invoiced by Shelby to Coventry as a drag car." And I do have documentation from Randy (and the handwritten note from Leonard Parsons, Shelby's Production Manager at the time) of the drag mods.

But this isn't about CSX2019. It's about yet another barn find. I'm not stepping ahead of SAAC on this. Until the Registry is officially updated, the shelbyford.com website will continue to reflect what is spelled out on page 385 of the current World Registry:

"In the final analysis, there were five small block factory Dragonsnakes built. Two were Shelby's team cars, CSX2019 and CSX2357. The rest (CSX2248, CSX2427 and CSX2472) were the result of buyers taking Shelby up on their offer to build and sell complete, turnkey drag cars."

Last edited by Hal Heindel; 11-22-2012 at 05:35 AM..
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:25 PM
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Hal, the website is yours to handle in any way you choose. All I am suggesting is that there is more information known about 2416 today than we published in the last SAAC registry, and we have no real indication when an updated version will appear. If you prefer to wait until the data is revised in the next registry, that is your call.
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Old 11-22-2012, 06:36 AM
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Hal, the website is yours to handle in any way you choose. If you prefer to wait until the data is revised in the next registry, that is your call.
Fair enough, Ned. That revision may take a while, and I'm not convinced we'll ever see another Shelby World Registry. Having assisted in the publication of the last one, I know first-hand how much work you and the other registrars have to put into this thing before it can be published.

For what it's worth, here are my criteria for including a car in the shelbyford.com website, starting with how the factory defined a Dragon Snake (quoting from their advertising):

"The Dragracing Division of Shelby American's famous Competition Department has been working for months on the strips of Southern California developing the fastest production sports car to ever hit the quarter mile lights. These special new Dragon Snakes are now in limited production and available to qualified serious competitors. These special lightweight roadsters are equipped with a specially built 289 Ford dragracing engine, slicks, wide base wheels, hardtop, and specially set up suspension."

SAAC, on page 385 of the World Registry, defines Dragon Snakes as "the result of buyers taking Shelby up on their offer to build and sell complete, turnkey drag cars."

Shelby and SAAC both describe Dragon Snakes as complete race cars set up by the factory for sanctioned quarter-mile events, not for stoplight drags down Main Street. The way I see it, the distinguishing feature of these cars is not the type and horsepower of the engine installed at the factory, but the slicks and wheels and suspension that made them suitable for the strip, and unsuitable for the street. The things that defined them unequivocally as a factory-built drag race car.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Last edited by Hal Heindel; 11-22-2012 at 09:26 AM..
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:06 AM
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Agreed, however the above criteria would exclude 2093, probably the winningest "Dragon Snake" of the bunch. What to do?
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:23 PM
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Agreed, however the above criteria would exclude 2093, probably the winningest "Dragon Snake" of the bunch. What to do?
That's easy, Ned, not call CSX2093 a Dragon Snake. On the shelbyford.com website, I categorize "The Fuchsia One" as an Independent drag car. As it happens, I've known Ed Hedrick for more than 40 years, and it was Ed and Jerry Mayo who were responsible for me acquiring CSX2019. Ed even contributed a short history for use on the website:

Ed Hedrick - Ford Drag Racing

Ed had bought the car from Costilow & Larson, and Jerry wrenched it when I got my first look at a drag racing Cobra: CSX2093 in all her metallic purple glory parked in Ed's garage. There was no going back. A few months later, Jerry, who's still a business partner, called me in Florida, telling me had found a drag race Cobra for sale in Indianapolis. A few weeks after that, 2019 was sitting in my driveway. I will always be in their debt for that.

As an aside, I still have two rear wheels, wide Halibrand magnesium pin drive, from CSX2093 that I bought from Ed after he sold "The Fuchsia One." Along with the soft top and heater from that car.

There's no doubt that between Bruce Larson and Ed Hedrick, CSX2093 was driven to more wins in 1/4-mile competition than any other Cobra. But the car left the factory as a street car, was in fact bought off a used car lot by Jim Costilow. And that keeps her from being a Dragon Snake.

I treat competition drag cars the same way SAAC treats competition street cars. Take FIA or USRRC Cobras. On page 368 of the Registry, you make a distinction between "Factory-prepared Comp Cars" and "Independently-prepared Race Cars." On the shelbyford.com website I make the same distinction between "Factory-prepared Dragon Snakes" and "Independently-prepared Drag Race Cars." My only additional test for including Independents is that they've actually seen action on a 1/4-mile strip, something I don't consider a requirement for Dragon Snakes. Once a car left the factory as a Dragon Snake, it had established its credentials.

Here is another way to look at it. Say someone goes out and buys a real but plain vanilla street Cobra, then gets and installs all the pieces that make up an FIA car, including the "FIA Suitcase" trunk lid. That's no longer possible, of course, but say it would be. Could that car then be advertised and sold as a legitimate FIA Cobra? Not without consequences. My feeling is, why should Dragon Snakes be any different?

Dragonsnake - Independent Comp Cars

Last edited by Hal Heindel; 11-25-2012 at 03:55 AM..
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:47 PM
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I feel like I'm in the presence of two Cobra Gods!
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:07 PM
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I feel like I'm in the presence of two Cobra Gods!
Larry
Not hardly. Just two people who are passionate about the legacy of these cars and want their histories to be recorded truthfully and appropriately.

Hal, I agree with your thinking that a street car modified after the fact to a particular specification should not call itself something it is not. 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.
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:10 PM
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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?
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