But when it came to fast Mustangs, the animal of choice was not a horse, but a snake.
And in Saturday’s third and final day of the Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas Collector-Car Event, which will be televised live from 3 – 11 p.m. on the National Geographic channel, two prized snakes will be among the stars of the show.
Lot 3004 is a prototype 2014 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, built to race in the NHRA Sportsmen ranks. Ford will build 50 of these Cobra Jets and this one has a 5-liter supercharged engine, complete roll cage and drag racing suspension, and custom Fiery Orange satin paint.
It will be auctioned off at approximately 8 p.m. ET, with all proceeds going to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Given the success charity cars have had at Barrett-Jackson so far, expect fierce bidding on this one.
Ford has used the Cobra Jet program to re-establish itself in the NHRA Sportsman ranks.
“In 2008, we wanted to celebrate what was then the 40th anniversary of the original Cobra Jet program and wanted to give ourselves a presence in NHRA drag racing, which we really hadn’t had for many years with late models,” said Jesse Kershaw, drag racing parts and competition manager for Ford Motor Co.
And so, the Cobra Jet program was reborn.
“We sold 50 cars that first year,” said Kershaw. “We did a 2008 model, then a 2010, a 2012, a 2013 and now we’re in the process of building the 2014 model units. … this is a pre-production unit, one of one.”
The new Cobra Jets retail for about $100,000, depending on options. While some get snatched up by collectors, most hit the drag strip. “What we’ve tried to do is encourage our customers to get out and race their cars,” said Kershaw.
A very different but equally fascinating snake is Lot 750, a 2012 Shelby GT350 widebody convertible that was the last new car commissioned by the great Carroll Shelby prior to his death in 2012.
“We always hold out serial No. 1 for Carroll,” said Shelby American President John Luft. “We’ve made this car in true Carroll fashion: a lot of rubber on the ground, a lot of horsepower under the hood. He loved convertibles.”
Luft said this particular Shelby GT350, which is emissions-legal in all 50 states, produces an eye-popping 624 horsepower. “We tune them to run on 91 octane fuel,” said Luft. “The beauty of that is you can own an exotic Shelby, but it’s not exotic to maintain. You can pull into any gas station and fill it up with fuel.”
Shelby limits the production of the GT350s to 350 units per year. “We are only doing a three-year production run,” said Luft. “We will take no more orders after Dec. 31.”
Next year, Ford Motor Co. will introduce an all-new Mustang, and there have been a lot of rumors about Mustang-based Shelbys going away entirely.
Luft said there will be a new Shelby American model based on the 2015 Mustang, although not in the first year.
“That’s the beautiful thing about our relationship with Ford,” said Luft. “Ford and Shelby, we’re joined at the hips. We work so well together. Their desire is that when they produce a new platform, we take it to the next level.”
But it won’t be right away.
“In all fairness to our partners at Ford, we’ll let the 2015 Mustang get traction, get in the marketplace and we’ll pace ourselves on our Shelby development,” said Luft.