One-off 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake going up for auction in May
Mecum Auctions announced today a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the offering of the legendary 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake – the only one of its kind ever built – at Dana Mecum’s 26th Original Spring Classic auction in Indianapolis, May 14-19 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This history-making, Shelby American-built mechanical marvel will cross the block for the first time ever at live public auction on Friday, May 17 as the headliner to more than 2,000 vehicles at the original, largest and best muscle car auction in the world.
Carroll Shelby originally assigned the car to demonstrate Goodyear’s new “Thunderbolt” budget passenger car tires in a high-profile press event, but the mission was expanded after a chance encounter between Shelby and his friend, former Shelby American sales manager Don McCain. McCain suggested that Carroll put a racing 427 Le Mans GT40 engine in the GT500 for the test and let him sell the car with the intention of building 50 more to be marketed and sold to the public as the powerhouse Shelby Super Snakes, thus originating the name.
Intrigued by the possibilities, Shelby instructed Fred Goodell, Shelby American’s chief engineer on loan from Ford, to prepare the GT500 with a special engine for the test. It was the same powerplant used in the Le Mans-winning GT40 Mk II, including a variation on the Mk II’s “bundle of snakes” exhaust system and its output of 600 horsepower. Described by McCain as “the mother of all 427s,” it powered the car to a top speed of 170 MPH with Shelby at the wheel for press demonstration laps before Goodell averaged 142 MPH for the 500-mile tire test at Goodyear’s San Angelo, Texas, test facility. The event was judged a success, but McCain’s plan to sell 50 Super Snakes was ultimately dashed by the car’s $8,000 price tag; even the 427 Cobra cost less.
After a series of documented owners, the Super Snake was purchased by Richard Ellis, an Illinois collector of rare Shelby Race Cars. It showed 26,000 miles on the odometer and almost no deterioration. “I wanted to own this piece of Shelby history more than anything,” Ellis said. “It was well cared for by its previous owners, but I’ve put a lot of effort into returning it to the state it was in on the day of the tire test. Now it is time to allow another collector or museum the opportunity to be the caretaker of what is the most unique and historically significant Shelby Mustang every built. I have enjoyed it a great deal and now it is time to move on. It will be missed,” Ellis added.
Built with the heart of a Le Mans champion yet ultimately destined for but one day in the sun, there is only one Super Snake, the result of a confluence of forces that could only have happened in the charmed life of one Carroll Shelby.
The Super Snake will have its time to shine again as the star of Dana Mecum’s 26th Original Spring Classic auction. This one-of-a-kind car will cross the block at the perfect venue for the fastest-ever street-legal Shelby Mustang as lot F203 on Friday, May 17.
[Source: Mecum Auctions, Photos: David Newhardt]
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