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Carroll Shelby and CSX3198 during the Unique Performance Auto Show 2005

The Rarest of the Rare:

DragonSnake Cobra # CSX 3198

Portions of text reproduced from the Shelby American Automobile Club

DragonSnakes, as they were called, were high performance Cobras produced by Shelby American in the mid-sixties and could have been ordered through a Ford dealership. There were only a few ever produced so, if rare is a description for the group of them, the Haar Ford DragonSnake #CSX 3198 is by far the rarest of the rare. The reason is pretty simple. Most all the other Cobras were produced with either the new 260ci V/8 from Ford that would briefly show it’s face in the Sunbeam Tiger and the1964 ½ Mustang, or they were built with the more powerful 289 ci V/8. There were even fewer others that were built with Shelby's most powerful 427 ci V/8 and were manufactured for road courses or street use. CSX 3198, however, was absolutely & positively the one and only Factory Produced 427 Private Use DragonSnake Drag Cobra ever built.  427 cubic inches of gear spinning, tire smoking, high revving (7000 rpm) power ever put in a Cobra from Shelby in the ‘60’s.  A heart stopping 505 horsepower’s worth of weekend fun. Please note that there were other 427 Cobra's produced but not from the factory for the drags, rather, they were SCCA and similar road racing versions eventually taken to and raced at historic sites such as Le Mans, Sebring and Daytona. Unfortunately it would be a few years more before Carroll Shelby and his team reduced drag of the current Cobra body and improved times with the introduction of the Ferrari-eating Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupes.

  Per information from and copyrighted by The Shelby American Automobile Club, the gray primer #3198 invoiced to Shelby American on 11/18/65 (less an allowance for “no final paint coat”) and shipped to L.A. At Shelby American, work order #18091 Build 427 Street Cobra CSX3198,” was opened on 1/14/66 and closed on 2/8/66. Early in February 1966, an order was received from Haar Motor Company (Worcester, MA) for a 427 Drag car and 3198 was selected to fill the order. A second work order, #15123, was opened in that same month headed “Chassis modifications for Cobra Drag Unit CSX3198 for Haar Motor Co.”  The build sheet specified “Install Knoi shocks front & rear; install roll bar; install electric pumps; install road race exhaust system and leave stock mufflers in place; relocate batteries to rear of passenger seat; install air scoop (when engine is in chassis); relocate oil filter; install scattershield; install 4.54 ring and pinion; install tach on cowl.” Originally estimated at a cost under $1,000, the modifications on the work order actually totaled $2,173.98.

  CSX3198 was sent the Berry Plastics for installation of a hard top prior to being billed on Shelby invoice #A 2994, dated 4/7/66, to Haar Motor Company as CSX3198 Drag Unit Cobra, $10,000 (about $55,000 by 2009 dollars), plus hard top and side curtains $275 and freight $340” for a total of $10,715. The car was trucked to Massachusetts. At Haar Ford, #3198 was painted a shade of Candy Apple Red that closely resembled a metallic cranberry, to be campaigned in NHRA drag racing. With 6.5” and 8.5” FIA Halibrands, “shorty” drag sidepipes, and the leading edge of the rear flares cut back to allow installation of wide M&H slicks. Haar’s performance service manager, Gus Zuidema (Worcester, MA) drove the car in A/Sports with a best time of 10.38 secs. @ 138 mph and, using hi-rise tunnel port heads, in A/Sports/Modified with a best time of 10.02 @ 146 mph. When, in early 1967 Haar Ford decided to sell the car they provided the following:

  Race Results: The car held both ends of National Record, E.T. 10.86 seconds, 127 mph (A/SP, NHRA) ’66 Winternationals, Pomona, ’66 Summer Nationals (Indy), runner-up for top points street eliminator, Div.1, Has won A/SP class every time out, won street eliminator 50% of total attempts.

Eventually Harr Ford put the car up for sale and the ad read "Original cost was $14,000. Will sacrifice. Contact Bill Fisher @ Harr Ford. CSX3198 was sold to a Mr. Bernstein or Feinstein (from Boston, Ma.) with a total of 498 (race) miles on its odometer.  It was reported that Bernstein, or a hired driver, continued to drag race the car as Hank's Bank in the Boston area, using a Corvette rear end and half-shafts. In late 1970 or early 1971, Sam Feinstein (Rydal, PA.) acquired CSX3198 in a trade for a '69 Cadillac convertible and $8,000 in cash. (the latter was to pay off the machine shop at which the car was being repaired.)  Feinstein removed the race engine, which he acquired minus the tunnel-port heads, and installed the 427 center-oiler from Dragonsnake CSX3160. He then sold CSX3160 and drove CSX3198 for a time as his daily driver. In Nov. 1976, CSX3198 was advertised for sale: "Cobra 427 S.C. CSX3198, all original. Sam Feinstein personal street car - less than 1000 honest miles. Needs minor cosmetics.  Mechanically perfect. $30,000, might accept trade. By January 1977, the price had dropped to $27,500 and the car was purchased by Les Newell (Meriden, CT), with the sunburst wheels, a roll bar, two tops and all with under 2,000 miles on the odometer.  John Halister (CT) purchased the Cobra in 1980 at a price of $57,000, and brought it with him when he subsequently moved to Florida. Tom Clark, of "The Steering Wheel" (Ft. Lauderdale, FL.) bought 3198 in 1981 and sold it to Jim Kelsey (Key Largo, FL). Susan Brown (Hollywood, FL) owned the car from May of 1981 until March of 1987, when it was acquired by Larry Smith (FL). It was advertised late in the year as: "Stored eight years, all Dragonsnake options, only one known?"  Bruce Daley (Phoenix, AZ) purchased it at the end of the year. It might be noted that a green, fiberglass-bodied kit-car with a square-tubed chassis, claiming to be CSX3198, "rebuilt following a wreck," surfaced in Japan in 1991. Written up in a magazine. it's owner attempted to pass that car off as the real thing. Quick action on the part of Bill Murray (Longmont, CO) and the owner of the real CSX3198 brought a retraction from the publication and an acknowledgement that the Japan car was a fraud. The car finally made it’s way to the West Coast where Mr. Pack purchased the car in the Monterey, California auction in 2004. In 2005 the car made a brief public appearance at the huge Unique Performance auto show in Farmers Branch, Texas. At that event Carroll Shelby inspected the car completely, touched, felt and saw the car for the first time in many years and was even photographed (above) standing next to it. He has verified that this is the original car he made in 1965 and saw no signs of decay, damage or anything but love and attention. In it's current condition as a completely restored to original vehicle, and because of it's extremely limited status, CSX3198's current market value is estimated to be PRICELESS !

Original Purchase Price After All Mods: Approximately $14,000.00


With pride of ownership, Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford presents you the rarest of the rare, DragonSnake #3198

The images and documents below donated to the Pack Automotive Museum by Jeff Zuidema, son of Gus Zuidema (CSX3198's NHRA driver)








1966 Shelby 427 Cobra CSX3198

VIN Number:    CSX3198
Assembly Plant: Shelby American Los Angeles, CA  
Date of Manufacture: 04/07/66 
Exterior Color:  Candy Apple Red
Convertible Top:   Candy Apple Red
Interior Trim:  Black Vinyl Bucket Seats
Engine: 427 CID – Ford Side-Oiler OHV V-8
850 CFM Holley 4 -Barrel Carburetor
505 Horsepower (N.H.R.A. estimated)
Bore/Stroke: N/A
12.5:1 Compression Ratio
High-Rise Aluminum Intake Manifold
Rotofaze Magneto Ignition

Transmission:    4-Speed Manual Floor Shifter


  • Seat Belts & Heater (for extra cooling)
  • Straight, Short Drag Headers
  • Koni Shocks
  • Two Goodyear Blue Streak Drag Slicks – Rear
  • Three Goodyear Blue Dot Tires – Front
  • Starburst Centerlock Alloy Wheels
  • 4.54:1 Traction-Loc Differential
  • Hood Air Scoop
  • Two Electric Fuel Pumps
  • Battery Located Behind Passenger Seat
  • Heavy Duty Half Shafts Equipped With Nuts And Bolts To Prevent Shearing and/or Loosening Under High Torque Loads
  • N.H.R.A. – Approved Scatter shield
  • N.H.R.A. – Approved Roll Bar
  • Custom Berry Fiberglass Hardtop

Wheelbase:  90 inches
Overall Length:  153.0 inches
Height: 48. Inches
Weight:  2,020 LBS

Stock Number: C 155



To attempt to appropriately classify the various types of cars built by Shelby American, we break them into categories. Where the drag Cobras are concerned, the cars built as Dragonsnakes at Shelby American and raced by the factory are termed factory competition cars. These would include the worm-and-sector 2019 and the rack-and-pinion 2357.

The second category are the cars built by the factory as Dragonsnakes for private use. These fall into the factory-prepared-competition category, and would include 2248, 2427, 2472, and 3198. The car featured on this page (CSX 3198) was the only factory produced 427 Cobra Jet, private use DRAG Dragonsnake ever built. All other DRAG Dragonsnakes featured 260 or 289 CID V/8's

The third category are the cars that were sold for street use but modified for drag racing by an early owner. We term them independent competition cars. They may or may not have used all of the factory modifications, and the parts to modify them were generally purchased "over the counter" either directly from Shelby American or a local Shelby dealer. Cars in this category would include 2093 and 3159

Ned Scudder, Cobra Registrar SAAC



FEATURE ARTICLE from Hemmings Muscle Machines

Venomos snake

Hemmings Muscle Machines - NOVEMBER 1, 2004 - BY JIM DONNELLY

"Cobra" and "racing" are an easy match in the realm of free association. Look through any one of a number of history books, and you can see images of a taut-jawed Ken Miles attacking the esses at Riverside, Bob Bondurant howling down the pre-neutered Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans, or Bob Holbert sweeping through the high banks in his Daytona coupe. Another name, Gus Zuidema, is virtually never mentioned as an icon in the Shelby cathedral.

Yet Zuidema, a service supervisor at a New England Ford dealership (Harr Ford), rightly deserves a place of honor in Cobra racing history. Back in 1966, he shattered records in the NHRA's A/ Sports Production class with a Shelby Cobra specifically prepped for drag racing and given the apropos title of "Dragonsnake." Four Dragonsnakes were built by Shelby with the V-8 or the high-performance small-block, but Zuidema's was the sole example ever built with the side-oiler V-8.

This thoroughly unique 427 Cobra was originally something of an afterthought at Shelby-American in Los Angeles, where the Cobra assembly facility was located. By 1966, Carroll Shelby and his cars were firmly on the map of global motorsports. In 1964, Cobras had swept international sports car racing at Daytona, Sebring, and had scored the GT-class victory at Le Mans. In 1965, Shelby would capture the World GT Manufacturer's Championship. Yet there was a quiet, but persistent, tugging at the sleeves for drag-specific Cobras that Shelby-American finally addressed in 1966.

This specific Dragonsnake was special ordered by Harr Ford in Worcester, Massachusetts, where Zuidema worked as performance service manager during the great Sixties high-performance glory years. Though only nominally different, from a structural standpoint, from street or road-racing Cobras, the Dragonsnakes required close to 30 specific modifications in order for them to undertake quarter-mile duty. Among them were a complete new rear-axle assembly with 4.86 gears and a Traction-Lok differential, a factory installed scattershield enclosing the flywheel and clutch, drag-specification Koni shock absorbers and a quick-shifting linkage beneath the otherwise stock, forward-angled shift lever.

The engine was a 427 side-oiler with a 12.5:1 compression ratio, specially outfitted with a high-rise aluminum intake manifold, an 850 cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor, RotoFaze magneto ignition and straight, short headers. Estimated output was an NHRA class eliminator-conservative 505hp. Zuidema, a master machinist, fabricated an aluminum air box that used weatherstripping to seal the induction system to the bottom of the Dragonsnake's functional hood scoop for a vastly improved ram-air effect. Naturally, given its potential, the car was fitted with a roll bar, but otherwise, it was largely standard-issue 427 Cobra, with all-aluminum bodywork. The rear wheel openings were slightly radiused to clear its original, 11-inch M&H drag slicks, and a Berry fiberglass roof was fitted. Most of the dashboard fittings and instruments are Shelby-issue. Bearing Shelby-American chassis number CSX 3198, the 427 Dragonsnake's as-delivered price was just under $14,000.

It's a fair bet that not even Zuidema was prepared for the sheer brutality of this car. The car was delivered to Harr Ford in April 1966, and the following month, on the 427 Dragonsnake's maiden outing, Zuidema annihilated the existing NHRA A/SP national records at Island Dragway in Great Meadows, New Jersey, thundering to an 11.48/127-mph timing slip on what, literally, was one of the Cobra's initial passes. In June, he knocked down his own record at Sanford, Maine, stopping the clocks at 11.15 and 127 mph. In July, he again lowered his own record, setting the e.t. half of the record with a 10.87 at Madison, New Jersey, and getting the top-speed portion done at nearly 128 mph at York U.S. 30 Dragway in central Pennsylvania.

With "National Record Holder" added to its C-pillar and Harr's own Candy Apple Red on the aluminum bodywork, Harr placed the 427 Dragonsnake on the market at the end of the 1966 racing season. By that time, Zuidema had won A/SP at every race he entered including the Winternationals and U.S. Nationals, and had a 50 percent win rate in the Street Eliminator bracket when he wasn't racing in his usual NHRA class. Clearly, Zuidema, who died in early 2004 and is remembered today as one of New England's great four-speed drag racers, had learned to tame the unruly short-wheelbase, 2,200-pound sports car.

From 1967 on, the 427 bounced among several owners in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where it was raced on occasion. From there, it landed in Florida in the early Eighties, in the hands of another succession of owners, and by 1987, it was in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. In more recent years, Matt Milbrandt of Cincinnati, Ohio, has had custody of the Dragonsnake's care and maintenance. The car had only 500 miles on its odometer when Harr Ford sold it in 1966, and it was driven minimally by previous owners since. In large part, that's due to the fact that the Cobra is still shod with the original Goodyear Blue Streak drag slicks, which are difficult to locate today.

That notwithstanding, as Milbrandt explained, getting a valid driving impression of the Dragonsnake only needs an eyeblink's worth of eternity. "It's exactly what you'd expect," he said. "It's a beast."

This article originally appeared in the NOVEMBER 1, 2004 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.
1280954 - Written by Jim Donnelly


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