This week in SPEED: Cobra Dragonsnake

March is “Drag Racers” in the SPEED: Science in Motion special exhibition at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Today’s featured vehicle: The Cobra Dragonsnake.

The Cobra Dragonsake was first developed in 1963 by legendary Carroll Shelby. It was a Cobra model for those who preferred drag racing in the quarter mile.

The legendary Carroll Shelby

The Dragonsnake differs from a stock Cobra by adding drag racing ready components; a competition-spec engine, modified Koni shock absorbers, Goodyear Drag Slicks, a 4.54:1 rear end, air scoop on the hood, relocated battery behind the passenger seat, heavy-duty half shafts and an NHRA-approved roll bar.

The engine was completed to very thorough specifications. Every clearance and dimension was set to minimum specifications. Clearances of all bearings in the lower end of the engine were set for high rpm. All moving parts of the engine assembly were balanced, including the cam followers, the push rods, the rocker arms, the valves and spring retaining washers.

The Shelby Dragonsnake on display in SPEED: Science in Motion at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

The cylinder heads are cast aluminum and have lightened competition valves installed. The ports and combustion chambers are not polished to comply with N.H.R.A. rules for Stock Sports class. The cam can be either advanced or retarded to customer specifications.

The rear and front spring assemblies are modified slightly to create better ground contact on the rear springs and better lift characteristics on the front springs. A hood scoop is also fitted to ensure cool, efficient air intake to the carburetors.

Shelby offered the car with three levels of carburation. Stage I was a single four-barrel carburetor, while the $688 Stage II option included two units. Only one car, CSX2427, was original ordered with the Stage III Weber carburetor setup which was fitted later to most of the cars.

In total only eight Dragonsnakes were produced by Shelby. One Dragonsnake, the CSX2093, is the winningest competition Cobra in drag history and won seven NHRA National events with Bruce Larson or Ed Hedrick driving.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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