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Few cars have the presence of the Shelby Cobra. The beautifully sculpted AC-sourced body compliments the baritone soundtrack of Ford V8 engines. It’s no surprise why Hollywood stars, comedians, and performers would want to snag one. However, one of the most exciting Cobra stories involves former comedian Bill Cosby and the killer Cobra CSX3303 he once owned. 

What is a Shelby Cobra?

The original Shelby Cobra is the product of a collaboration between Carroll Shelby, Ford Motor Company, and AC Cars from England. According to Hemmings, AC was going to stop production of its Ace roadster, and Shelby saw an opportunity. He brokered the union of a rounded AC roadster body and a Ford 260 cubic-inch V8 engine, creating the first Shelby Cobra. Shelby then fit a 289 V8 into his vehicular vision, followed by a 427 V8. 

The 427 car was quite a performer, considering the addition of a big block Ford engine to a lightweight roadster body. Believe it or not, the 427-equipped roadster could hit 60 mph in just over 4.0 seconds, just about as fast as a new Audi S4.    

Bill Cosby's Cobra, CSX3303, looked a little like this.
Shelby Cobra | Getty Images

Which Cobra did Bill Cosby own?

Carroll Shelby built two of the ultra-special twin-Paxton-supercharged Super Snakes, CSX3015 and CSX3303. Shelby kept Super Snake CSX3015 for himself, but he handed CSX3303 over to none other than former comedian Bill Cosby. According to Hagerty, Cosby drove a Ferrari on a daily basis at the time, and Shelby found that un-American. To remedy the situation, Shelby had the twin-supercharged specialty roadster delivered to Cosby. 

However, Cosby took the car for a drive and decided it was too much for him. After he returned it to Shelby, the car resided at S&C Ford in San Francisco. Hagerty says that an ill-fated man by the name of Tony Maxey purchased the 427 Cobra.

Shelby Cobra CSX3015 is Carroll Shelby's car and the sibling vehicle to CSX3303.
CSX3015 | Barrett-Jackson

What happened to Super Snake CSX3303?

Tony Maxey bought the Super Snake CSX3303 in San Francisco and took it home. Unlike Cosby, Maxey seemed to be alright with the estimated 800-horsepower, twin-supercharged Super Snake. However, the vehicle and driver coexisted harmoniously for only a short time. 

One day, when Maxey was driving his Super Snake, the throttle jammed open. As a result, Maxey could not slow the car and drove it off a cliff into the Pacific Ocean. CSX3303 was totaled, and Maxey died of his injuries days later. Bill Cosby’s briefly owned Shelby Cobra killed its last owner. 

How much is a real Cobra worth?

Real Shelby Cobras command high prices today. The only other twin-supercharged Super Snake, CSX3015, was recently sold at Barrett-Jackson for 5.5 million dollars. Of course, that was Carroll Shelby’s personal car, and there can be no greater brag among American cars. However, all isn’t lost for fans who want a Shelby Cobra. 

Companies like Superformance build recreations of the iconic Cobra, often to the customer’s spec. While it isn’t cheap, it’s certainly more affordable than buying an original Cobra. Scroll down to the following article to read more about automotive history!


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