Carroll Shelby’s idea of shoehorning Ford’s V8 in an AC Ace in place of its straight-six came a long way from its first experimental run in 1962. He originally wanted to source one from Chevrolet, but due to fears of this lightweight car becoming a competitor to their lithe Corvette, the General retreated from the deal. In a stroke of opportunity, Ford was searching for a car that could rival (and beat) Chevrolet’s flagship, and they recently created a new engine - the 260 cubic inch (4.3 liter) Windsor V8. Its thin wall cast and light weight would help with being plopped into the British sports car, gaining greater performance with this. In January of 1962, at AC’s factory in Thames Ditton, which was located in Surrey, a new species of sports cars, the Cobra, was born. Known as CSX2000, it was fitted with the HiPo engine, tested, and modified to better accommodate it, being disassembled and flown to Los Angeles, California, on the second of February in that year, where Shelby was waiting with his team of engineers, placing these components back into the car at Dean Moon’s garage in Santa Fe Springs in less than eight hours.
Fast forward to 1966, and it was in its third rendition, Mark III, which brought the #FourTwentySeven “side oiler” under its hood. There were only twenty-three AC Cobra 427 competition roadsters produced in the Cobra’s lifetime, but one was chosen to be made the “Cobra to End All Cobras,” being known as CSX3015, the first Super Snake. Being originally part of a European tour before its conversion, with it being shipped and invoiced to Ford Advanced Vehicles, England, on the seventh of September in 1965, it returned in late 1966 still as a 427 Cobra Competition. Being reclassified as a 427 Cobra Semi-Competition (SC), the car was, in essence, a street-legal race car, using mufflers, a windshield, and bumpers to make it pass the requisite testing needed for it to be taken on the road, but the rear end, brakes, and headers were left unchanged.
What was incredibly notable, however, were the two hulking Paxton Superchargers that were placed on an experimental Edelbrock intake, becoming known as the TPS. Shelby made another one with this engine, creating another Super Snake by the name of CSX3303. Shelby kept the former for himself, keeping it street-legal, and the latter went to a close friend of his, Bill Cosby. When he attempted to tame the Cobra, due to the eight hundred horsepower that were sent straight to the rear wheels through the Ford C-6 three-speed automatic gearbox (this was a characteristic on both serpents), he could barely control it, sending it back to his friend. Being inspired by the car’s potential, he went on to make a comedy album called 200 M.P.H., which documented his experience with Carroll’s child.
Following this, Shelby shipped it to S&C Ford on Van Ness Avenue, one of his company’s dealerships in San Francisco, which then sold it to Tony Maxey, who, facing the same circumstances as Cosby, lost control, drove off a cliff, and landed in the Pacific Ocean, nearly totaling the car. It’s rumored that an English collector, Rod Leach, picked up the nearly-totaled car in the 1980’s, replacing both Paxtons with two turbochargers and a custom hood, also giving it a personalized license plate that read “COB-1,” but other sources state that car was totaled in that accident, with Maxey dying from his injuries a few days after this. Other source, however, states that Brian Angliss, the successor entity owner of AC Cars, purchased the car (if we assume that it was almost totaled), restored the car, and plans to sell it at an auction, but Cosby states that he heard that Jimmy Webb (from “MacArthur Park”) eventually received his Cobra.
Going back to Shelby’s personal car, CSX3015, it was used as his personal car for many years, sometimes appearing in local races like the Turismos Visitadores Cannonball-Run in Nevada, where he was “waking whole towns, blowing out windows, throwing belts and catching fire a couple of times, but finishing,” and on the twenty-second of January in 2007, his car was auctioned at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event in Scottsdale, Arizona, with him making an appearance in front of everyone at the event and speaking about the one King Cobra, the only one that still retained its superchargers. Selling for five million dollars, with its fee-inclusive price being a hundred thousand more than that price, it is the most expensive car auctioned that was built in the United States.
Quoting the builder, “When I built this dual supercharged 427 Cobra in 1966, I wanted it to be the fastest, meanest car on the road… Forty years later, it will still kick the tail of just about anything in the world. It’s the fastest street legal Cobra I’ve ever owned.” So unbelievably quick was this car, Road and Track called CSX3015 “The Cobra to End All Cobras” in February of 1968. Harley E. Cluxton III, a former racing driver, attorney, and CSX3015’s owner, states that “his Cobra is the benchmark that defines the American Muscle car. His baby does it all, and without the help of ASR, ESP, ABS, engine management ECU’s, carbon fiber, titanium or the United Nations.” It’s an all-American two-fingered salute to Europe’s methods of making a car faster, refraining from power and relying on technology’s advances, using brute force and a light body to put even today’s supercars to shame. It is Carroll Shelby, a rebel who tosses convention to Chevrolet’s engineers and solves problems in pure American fashion, letting this snake be the one that would completely swallow a rival stallion whole and create unwieldy horsepower as a byproduct of digestion.
Through this and its intimidating, almost sinister, looks, this Cobra, existing without any competitors or other original, surviving duplicates, takes the title of “King Cobra” by default.
Statistics and Specifications:
Engine: 6997 cc (7.0 L) V8
Position: Front Longitudinal
Engine Code: FE (427 Side Oiler)
Valvetrain: Pushrod (Overhead Valve) 16v
Aspiration: Twin Paxton Superchargers
Power: 596.6 kw / 800 BHP
Specific Output: 114.33 BHP per liter
BHP/Weight: 772.95 BHP per tonne
Torque: 626.39 nm / 462.0 lb-ft
Bore: 107.4 mm / 4.23 in.
Stroke: 96.0 mm / 3.78 in.
Drivetrain: Rear-Wheel Drive
Transmission: Three-Speed Automatic
Curb Weight: 1035 kg / 2282 lbs
Front and Rear Brakes: Girling Discs
Steering: Rack and Pinion
Front Suspension: Unequal Wishbones w/Coil Spring over Dampers
Rear Suspension: Unequal Wishbones w/Coil Spring over Dampers
Body/Frame: Aluminum over Tubular Steel Frame
Wheelbase: 2286 mm / 90.0 in
Length: 3962 mm / 156.0 in
Width: 1727 mm / 68.0 in
Height: 1245 mm / 49.0 in
0-60 MPH: “It would do just a little over three seconds to sixty forty-five years ago.”
Top Speed: (Over) 200 MPH (“I’ve got stopped doing 190 MPH in Nevada in it.”)