1963 Shelby 289 Cobra 'Dragonsnake'
Sold For $990,000Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
- One of only three Cobras independently prepared to “Dragonsnake” specifications
- Multiple NHRA National Champion wins and national record holder
- Unquestionably the most successful drag-racing Cobra
- Authentically restored to period-correct specifications and livery
325 bhp, 289 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine with dual four-barrel Weber carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front and rear suspension with A-arms, transverse leaf springs, and tube shock absorbers, rack-and-pinion steering, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 90 in.
Carroll Shelby and his racing team remained a dominant force in motorsport throughout the 1960s. However, a handful of owners believed that they could beat Shelby at his own game, using cars bearing his own name.
CSX 2093: THE WINNINGEST DRAGONSNAKE
In the case of Jim Costilow, Bruce Larson, Ed Hedrick, and CSX 2093, they did just that. Born as a standard 289 Cobra, CSX 2093 was originally finished in Red with a black interior. While its original owner is unknown, it is believed to have been delivered new to Pennsylvania. According to the World Registry of Cobras & GT40s, CSX 2093 was traded into Ladd Motors of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, for a new Jaguar in early 1964. It was purchased shortly thereafter by Jim Costilow of nearby Duncannon, who decided to take the car racing. Not the most experienced racer, Costilow quickly found that he had a difficult time keeping up with the competition in road racing and hill climbs. After a few disappointing races, Costilow decided that it would be best to hire a driver for his car to get the best possible results.
Mr. Costilow approached Bruce Larson, who was working at a local Chevrolet dealer, and asked if the Cobra could be tuned and prepared for competition, specifically for drag racing. Larson, an experienced drag racer, spent a full year preparing the car, a process overviewed in the October 1965 issue of Super Stock magazine. In short order, Costilow quickly spent nearly the purchase price on modifications, including larger rear-wheel flares for the massive 9X15-inch drag-racing slicks, the installation of a chrome roll bar, five-spoke American wheels, and a Sun tachometer. The car also sported side curtains and a hard top from CSX 2019, a factory-prepared Dragonsnake.
For its first season, the Cobra was still finished in its original red but was later painted with 31 coats of a distinctive Fuchsia Metallic, making it instantly recognizable and unforgettable to anyone who saw it race. Now independently prepared to Dragonsnake specifications, chassis number CSX 2093 was ready to bring the fight to Carroll’s finest.
Costilow handed the driving duties off to Larson, and the car quickly accrued wins at strips around the Northeast for the end of the 1964 season, dominating the A, AA, B, and C Sport classes. It even set national records at the 1965 Springnationals in Bristol, Tennessee, the U.S. Indy Nationals, and the Winternationals in Pomona, California, right in Carroll Shelby’s backyard, winning all three events! Larson dominated in the A Sports and AA Sports classes in 1965, handily setting the record in many classes. Most notably, Larson accumulated more points than anyone else competing in any class of the NHRA. At the world finals, he ran quicker than his national record. Larson outpaced the competition but unfortunately disqualified himself in the process by eclipsing his national time by over a tenth of a second!
Following his success in the 1964 and 1965 seasons, Costilow sold the car in 1966, but that would not mark the end of its racing career. The Dragonsnake remained in Pennsylvania and was purchased by Ed Hedrick of Philadelphia, where it continued to compete in the NHRA’s Northeast Division 1. For 1966, Hedrick drove the car in the B Sports class, again winning his class at all the National races he attended, a surprise to no one, as the car already held the record for that class! Chassis CSX 2093 returned with Hedrick to the Springnationals and U.S. National meet, where it once again took home the top prize. Hedrick’s success continued through 1967, and chassis number CSX 2093 chalked up class wins at the 1967 Springnationals, Winternationals, and U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis yet again, finishing the 1967 season with the 1967 World Points Championship.
OFF THE STRIP
By 1969, CSX 2093’s days at the drag strip were done, and it had passed to Oklahoma by the mid-1970s and was refinished light green. It would spend the next few decades being used on the street. It was purchased by Fred Freer of Ohio in 1977. He repainted the car dark red, fitted the car with wire wheels, and showed it at SAAC-2 in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in July 1977, where it won the popular ballot 289 class. Shortly thereafter, it was purchased by Larry Megibow, who traded his 427 Cobra (CSX 3153) for the Dragonsnake. By 1985, the car had passed through several owners in the Northeast and was owned by Gene Schiavone of Essex, Connecticut, who brought it to SAAC-10, where it once again won 1st in class, this time in the popular vote 289 Cobra competition class. In 1991, the Dragonsnake came into the ownership of Ed Ulyate, who fully restored it back to its iconic fuchsia livery.
Three years later, the car had made its way back to Pennsylvania in the ownership of David Young, who sold it back to an individual who was very familiar with the car—Bruce Larson! Under the ownership of Larson, who had since become a very successful funny car builder, the car was maintained at his museum and occasionally shown at AACA events, where it received Junior and Senior awards at Hershey. Purchased by its current owner in January of 2010, the car has remained in excellent condition and has attracted a lot of attention at concours events, including most recently at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in 2015, where it won the award for “Best Sound.”
Of the factory and independently prepared Dragonsnake Cobras, CSX 2093 is unquestionably the most successful, so much so in fact that Shelby withdrew their factory support! By the end of its drag-racing career, it had established NHRA records in AA, A, B, and the C Sports classes and won a total of seven NHRA National events in addition to winning the NHRA World Championship with Ed Hedrick. Adding to its significance and rarity is that the car has been certified by the AACA as a true and correct original, and it has also received its Senior Award and Race Car Certification award. Furthermore, it is also accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity from the SCCA further confirming the car’s authenticity and historical significance. Accompanying the car in the sale is a set of side curtains, two front chrome wire wheels, and a file of documentation with period photographs and time slips from its racing career.
Compared to other racing Cobras, CSX 2093 is remarkably complete and remains the most successful Cobra in drag racing and one of the most significant competition Cobras in existence.