What Is the Shelby Super Snake?Last Updated August 4, 2019
The One and Only 1967 Super Snake
Few Mustangs are as legendary as the original 1967 Super Snake. One of Carroll Shelby’s “Special Projects,” the Super Snake represents the best of what was possible for the era, modified with parts that were still cutting edge, and designed with a deep love and reverence for pure speed.
The Super Snake was supposed to be the first of a line of 50, as limited edition as it gets. But in the end, only one Super Snake was ever made. Goodyear collaborated, eager to show off how resilient their new tires were. Their plan was fairly straight forward: Let Shelby build the best monster he possibly could, drive it as fast as possible, and evaluate the new Thunderbolt tires to see how they held up. It was the kind of marketing plan built around complete confidence in their product, and it didn’t disappoint.
Shelby started his beast with a 1967 GT500, then added the 427 cubic inch V8 that had been raced in Le Mans, and a transmission strong enough to handle that much power. The car was then driven for five hundred miles at an average speed of 142 mph. The top speeds reached were around 170 miles per hour (the tires held up spectacularly well).
Tragically, the Mustang Super Snake was judged to be too expensive to make on a large scale. The estimated price to make the Super Snake would have been $8,000; adjusted for inflation that ends up being around $58,000.
The Super Snake’s first home was in Dallas Texas, where two pilots purchased it for drag racing, but in 1970 they sold it. Though the Mustang had three different owners over the course of thirty-six years before it made it back to California, the odometer said that it had only had 26,000 miles on it and still looked new.
Since then, it’s been cared for by multiple rare Mustang collectors, one of whom took care to carefully restore it back to what would have been its original equipment set at the time of the legendary tire test. Richard Ellis managed to even find a set of original Thunderbolt tires to put on the Mustang. From there, the Super Snake exchanged hands once more to famed Shelby collector John Wickey who carefully cared for the vehicle and then decided to put it up for auction. The one and only Super Snake sold for $2.2 million in January 2019, making it the most expensive Mustang in existence. Many would argue it’s also the most valuable.
The 2007 Return of the Super Snake
For decades, it seemed like there really only would be the one Ford Super Snake. Part of that was Carroll Shelby and Ford’s falling out, and part of that was the concern through the ‘70s that the era of muscle cars was really and truly over. Fortunately, the Super Snake saga wasn’t yet complete.
Shelby and Ford resolved their differences, and in 2007 it was announced that Shelby would be working on a GT500 for that year. It had a 5.4L V8 engine, an Eaton supercharger, and a Tremec transmission. Due to his age, Shelby himself wasn’t hands-on with the car, but he worked with the SVT team on the design and signed off on the design. He also worked on a “Shelby GT” for that year, in cooperation with the Hertz Corporation.
It was the return of the Shelby Mustang, and people were eager for more Super Snakes. In 2008, for $27,995, customers who purchased 2007 Shelby GT500 Mustangs could send them to Carroll Shelby’s shop in order to have them “Super Snake”-d. In the immortal words of Carroll Shelby, “I told them that I wanted to build a vehicle that could blow the doors off of most anything on the planet.”
The 2007 package came complete with a Ford Racing supercharger upgrade, which could get over 600 hp and 590 ft-lbs of torque, a Ford Racing exhaust system, a Ford Racing handling pack, a Ford Racing short-throw shifter, and six-piston brakes with Shelby cast calipers. It has been such a popular package that it’s been offered off and on since then.
Prudhomme Super Snake: A Snake for the Snake
Don Prudhomme is one of the most famous drivers in drag racing history thanks in part to his relationship with Hot Wheels. In his early career, Prudhomme raced a Shelby Super Snake, which earned him the nickname “The Snake.” Ford took the Super Snake concept a step further by creating a special drag racing package named after Prudhomme for the 2007-2010 Shelby GT500 Mustangs.
Limited to only 100 units, this package featured an engine equipped with a Whipple supercharger that could produce 750 hp when running on octane gas and 800 hp on racing fuel. The cost of the Prudhomme Super Snake package was $100,000.
2018 Super Snake
In 2018, the Super Snake was given an updated front fascia that featured the iconic Shelby branding. It also is accompanied by an impressive quantity of aerodynamic improvements. Updated rear wing, rear diffuser, side sills, and a complex chin spoiler that directs cool air to the engine and brakes.
Unlike previous years where the Super Snake package was sold as an add-on to the price of the GT500, the new Super Snake is listed at $113,445, but that price includes the donor Mustang.
It’s important to note that a lot of these newer Super Snakes aren’t considered as such by purists because they don’t use the GT500 as a base, but the first thing that happens to the Mustangs selected for the Super Snake treatment is that they get a new engine and transmission anyway, so by our measure they’re every bit the snake that the GT500 based ones are. After receiving the 750 hp engines and a dual-clutch automatic transmission, these snakes are capable of reaching 200 miles per hour, which is phenomenal by every measure. The 2018 Super Snake features Brembo six piston calipers in the front, and four pistons in the rear. It also offered with a widebody kit that makes it look low and mean, and can reach 60 in just 3.5 seconds.
The Super Snake Legacy Continues
Though new, modern Super Snakes were being produced, it seemed impossible for the classic Super Snake to make a return. But in 2018, Shelby American decided that it was time to bring back a legend. Ten 1967 Super Snakes would be manufactured. In order to accomplish this goal, ten donor 1967 Mustangs were used as the base. All ten were given a serial number for the official Shelby registry, and the original signatures of Carroll Shelby and Don McCain were used on those ten. Before the two men’s passing, they had planned a return for the 1967 Super Snake.
Gary Patterson, president of Shelby American, said that they were “fulfilling the dream of Carroll Shelby and Don McCain.” In order to make the Super Snakes, the Mustangs were stripped down almost to bare metal and then built back up. Though Ford has switched to modular engines, a big block V8 was used to make these ten special Super Snakes, which sold for $249,995 each. Though that sounds like a lot, it’s important to remember that the only other one of these in existence sold for over two million, so really it’s a remarkable discount.
Sources: Motor Authority | Motor 1 | Shelby American | Ford | Top Speed | Image Credit: Barret-Jackson | Top Speed | Motor Authority | Mechum Auctions
The 1967 Shelby Super Snake was a one of a kind, but since then there have been Super Snake variants made through the years, including ten new 1967 versions built in 2018. From the original Super Snake to the modern ones, Shelby's legacy is clear in these outstanding performance Mustangs.
Ford and Hertz teamed up in 1966 for a "Rent-a-Racer" promotion with the "H" in Shelby GT-H standing for Hertz. The promotion was revived two more times, once 40 years after the first promotion in 2006 and again in 2016.
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