• The most successful Cobra drag car ever built
• Winner of multiple NHRA National events and the 1967 World Championship
• One of only three known Independently Prepared ‘Dragonsnake’ Cobras
• Fascinating history as documented in the SAAC Registry
• Restored to period-correct livery and configuration
289 cid Ford “Hi-Po” V-8 engine, four twin-choke Weber carburetors, 325 BHP, four-speed manual transmission, independent front and rear suspension with A-arms, transverse leaf springs, and drag shock absorbers, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes; wheelbase: 90”
Immediately dominant in American SCCA road-racing from early 1963, and soon ready to take on the world’s best on the international stage, Carroll Shelby’s Ford-powered, AC Ace-derived Cobra was highly effective on the dragstrip when prepared and driven correctly. Known as the “Dragonsnake,” the drag Cobra originated with a small group of young Shelby production employees who developed and raced CSX2019 and then CSX2357 to great effect. In addition to the two factory cars, three more were built by Shelby for customers. Another three, classified by SAAC as “Independently Prepared Drag Cobras,” were built using Shelby’s “Dragonsnake” parts packages and specifications. Numbered CSX2093, this 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra Independently Prepared Dragonsnake reigns as the most successful drag-racing Cobra of them all.
Listed in the Shelby American World Registry, CSX2093 is an original “street” Cobra billed to Shelby American on February 18, 1963. According to Bruce Larson, the original owner was Hank Hillard of York, Pennsylvania, who purchased the Cobra from Larson Ford in New York. It was soon traded to Ladd Motors of Lebanon, Pennsylvania at 5,000 miles and then purchased by Jim Costilow, who campaigned the car in road races and hillclimbs until joining forces with Bruce Larson, a noted drag racer and Chevy mechanic who would soon gain fame with his “USA-1” Camaro Funny Cars. Larson spent a great deal of time prepping the Cobra for strip duty, with the progress eventually detailed in the October 1965 Super Stock magazine. Nearly the equivalent of the Cobra’s purchase price was invested into rear-fender flares, American Racing wheels, drag slicks, a chrome roll bar, Sun tachometer, and expert chassis tweaks. Side curtains and a Berry Plastics hardtop improved the Cobra’s aerodynamics. As recently related by Mr. Larson, Sprint Car Hall of Fame member Lynn Paxton was also instrumental in the Cobra’s preparation.
Refinished in eye-catching Fuchsia Metallic paint, CSX2093 was driven by Bruce Larson and quickly dominated the Northeast for the remainder of 1964 in NHRA A/SP and, when fitted with four Weber twin-choke carbs, AA/SP. National records fell to Larson and CSX2093 in 1965 at the Pomona, California Winternationals, Bristol, Tennessee Springnationals, and U.S. Nationals, with Larson and CSX2093 winning all three events. At the World Finals, Larson lowered his own National record, but sacrificed the World Championship by breaking out by over a tenth of a second. As Mr. Larson later recounted for SAAC, the quality of parts purchased from Shelby American dwindled after he and CSX2093 stole the National record from the Shelby Dragonsnake, leading to reliability problems and the decision of Costilow and Larson to finally sell CSX2093 in 1966. The victorious Cobra was purchased by Ed Hedrick of Philadelphia, who competed with it in NHRA Northeast Division 1 B/Sports, winning all National-level races entered including the Springnationals and U.S. Nationals. Hedrick’s run continued through 1967, with CSX2093 winning that year’s Springnationals, Winternationals, U.S. Nationals, and World Championship.
By 1969, CSX2093 was sold to a new owner and during the mid-1970s, it was refinished light green, reconfigured for street duty, passed through several owners, and won the “Popular Vote” award at the 1977 SAAC-2 and 1985 SAAC-10 events. Peter Livanos, Greek shipping magnate and eventual co-owner of Aston Martin, purchased CSX2093 in 1984 and re-acquired it several years later. In 1991, CSX2093 was acquired by Ed Ulyate, who had it fully restored and finished in its iconic 1960s livery. In 1994, the Cobra returned to Pennsylvania with David Young, who sold it in 1998 to Bruce Larson, who kept the car in his personal collection and showed it at AACA events, earning Junior and Senior awards at Hershey before selling the car in January 2007. The Cobra passed through two more owners and it was most recently shown at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in 2015, where it won “Best Sound.”
Of all drag Cobras, whether factory-built Dragonsnakes or independently prepared examples, CSX2093 is unquestionably the most successful. Adding to its significance, the Cobra is certified by the AACA as a true and correct original, and it has also received its Senior Award, plus an SCCA Letter of Authenticity. Accompanying the sale of the Cobra is a set of side curtains, two front chrome wire wheels, and a document file including period photographs and time slips from its illustrious racing career. Striking in its best-known Costilow/Larson livery and configuration, CSX2093 stands as one of the most significant competition Cobras in existence.
Note: Worldwide Auctioneers wishes to thank Mr. Bruce Larson for his kind assistance in fact-checking the auction description of CSX2093.
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra 'Dragonsnake'
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