Roaring reptiles: Shelby American drops 2 Snake concepts at SEMA
Less than a week after we drove the 2020 Shelby GT500, Shelby American has dropped the first aftermarket edition of Ford’s mostest pony car. Make that a special edition concept, for now, since the GT500 Dragon Snake hasn’t hit production.
It’s a mark of respect to Ford’s 2020 GT500 that Shelby American couldn’t make it better at something without making it worse at something else. The Shelby American’s GT500 Dragon Snake, unlike either of its reptilian namesakes, ditches the esses for the straights in homage to its automotive ancestors: the Cobra Dragonsnakes, famous in quarter-mile annals.
Shelby’s team has tuned GT500’s dual-clutch transmission and suspension for maximum grip and straight-line acceleration, added high-flow catalytic converters, and tweaked the Eaton supercharger for upwards of 800 horses (compared to the 760 from Ford’s stock GT500). Though a widebody option is only “considered” at this point, Shelby has taken the liberty of bolting on a wing that, should you crave a cheeseburger, looks deep enough to handle a post-baseball-game rush at Five Guys.
There’s some very reptilian-looking quilt patterns on the Dragon Snake’s seat—intentional, we’re sure—and Dragon Snake embroidery to complement the many decals on the exterior. The carbon-fiber hood features even more vents than the regular GT500’s, and a Shelby-stamped front splitter.
One-piece forged aluminum wheels come clad in Mickey Thompson ET Street S/S tires, 225-20 front and 305-20 rear. While the rears are still skinnier than the stock GT500’s 315-20s, these drag radials are much stickier. The Dragon Snake’s chrome wheels are far tackier, unfortunately. Better hide them with clouds of tire smoke. That shouldn’t be a problem, given that a non-Carbon-Track-Pack GT500 wearing Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber and, in the hands of a Ford engineer, laid down a 10.97@127.
Speaking of ’60’s muscle and historically resonant reptilian badges, Shelby American has also tricked out a F-150 two-door and slapped on “Super Snake.” The resulting Shelby Super Snake Sport F-150 is “a nightmare for any other truck” and is “astonishingly fast,” says Vince LaViolette, Shelby American Vice President of Operations and Chief of R&D.
We’re eager to hear exactly what “astonishingly fast” translates to, given that the supercharged, two-door Ford F-150 prepped for the strip by Roush laid down a 3.9-second 0–60 run at Milan Dragway this summer. Visually, at least, the trucks make different statements of speed; Roush’s Nitemare has discreet stickering and stamping, and Shelby American’s F-150 features stickers, snakes, and two sets of stripes.
On the business end of the Super Snake Sport, however, are 755 horses and six-piston brakes. (Shelby American reminds us that 755 hp is, in fact, 105 more than Roush’s Nitemare.) Coil-over suspension, traction bars, and a Shelby by Borla exhaust system further deck out the two-door. Inside features a Shelby gauge replacement and the obligatory carbon-fiber accents.
So pick your many-badged poison: the drag-strip-focused Shelby American GT500 Dragon Snake or the F-150 Super Snake Sport. Whether or not you reach for the check at SEMA in anticipation of a production-spec model, just saying “Super Snake Sport” gets you in the reptilian mood, and who isn’t in the mood for more horsepower?