“The Slalom Snake”

The Slalom Snake (or Slalom Special, as it was first known) was marketed by Shelby American as a street Cobra fitted with the appropriate options for autocrossing. At least two such cars were built in late 1964, placing them among the last 100 289 roadsters. Since the introduction of the more powerful, coil-sprung 427 model was no secret to potential Cobra buyers at that time, 289s were not exactly flying out of Ford showrooms; in fact, many of these late cars were traded between dealers. To Shelby American, the slick-sounding Slalom Snake tag seems to have been a clever bit of niche marketing.

Shelby American PR man Deke Houlgate promoted the new model in a December 1964 press release, describing it as a Cobra equipped for slalom, gymkhanas, autocrosses, time trials, “and other sportscar competitive games.” Ironically, though, the Slalom Snake got its most effective publicity from a couple of Corvette autocrossers who worked at Shelby American. Helen Green was a temporary employee in the high-performance parts department, and her husband, Chuck, managed the aftermarket parts department. When Carroll Shelby heard about their weekend amateur driving prowess in their 1964 Sting Ray, he loaned them CSX2522 to promote the Slalom Snake in autocrosses. They responded with men’s and women’s top times of the day in multiple Southern California and Arizona events.

Both Slalom Snakes were among an unusual number of white cars with red interiors (this car’s interior was later changed to black) produced during the fall of 1964, possibly in anticipation of more sales to autocrossers. Although CSX2522 was originally identified as a Slalom Special, the second, CSX2537, was dubbed a Slalom Snake. Equipped almost identically to CSX2522, this second example had aluminum valve covers, a tuned air cleaner, a Smiths heater, seat belts, front and rear brake cooling ducts, a hood scoop, brake cooling scoops, side exhausts and a painted roll bar (2522’s roll bar was chromed). Suspension options included Koni shock absorbers, front and rear anti-sway bars, unpolished six-inch magnesium pin-drive wheels, and Goodyear Blue Streak Sports Car Special tires. The usual bumper bars, as well as the windshield-mounted windwings and sun visors, were deleted. To set the Slalom Snakes apart from other Cobras, both bodies were decorated with contrasting red paint stripes, in typical 1960s California style. Like most Cobras, CSX2537 has led an interesting and varied life, serving as a period racer, a street car, and a vintage racer. It was originally sold through Lew Spencer’s High Performance Motors in Los Angeles in early 1965. The first owner, now unknown, raced the car in West Coast SCCA events during the late 1960s, making the usual competition modifications. After a subsequent owner returned it to street trim, CSX2537 moved through various hands until 1994, when it was bought by Pat and Shauna Hogan of Colorado. Two years later the car suffered serious frontal damage when the throttle stuck open during a vintage race at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, so Cobra expert Bill Murray bought and restored it. Instead of replacing the mangled and crushed aluminum, he skillfully reshaped the original metal. Pat bought back the restored car in 2001, and it has been part of the Collection ever since.

Text excerpted from “Shelby Cars in Detail, Cars of the Shelby American Collection” by Frank Barrett with photography by Boyd Jaynes. Find out how to obtain your own copy of this magnificent book at www.bullpublishing.com

Vehicle Details

Chassis Number: CSX2537
Horsepower: 385 hp
Displacement: 8-cylinder, 289 ci (4.7 L)
Wheelbase: 90”