The beauty of a barn find is this: sometimes you don’t even know what you have until you start the process of disassembly. Take the case of a 1965 Shelby DragonSnake Cobra for example: when purchased by a collector last year, he believed it to be one of six built. As it turns out, the car was one of just two in a specific configuration.

DragonSnake Cobras are among the rarest competition Cobras produced. Built exclusively for drag racing, only seven or eight were assembled, with the bulk (six, as far as we can tell) powered by Ford’s 289-cubic-inch V-8 engine. Of these DragonSnake Cobras, only two left the factory with the Stage III-D competition engine.

When the current owner of this particular example bought the car, he believed he was buying a “standard” 289 Cobra equipped with the DragonSnake package. As restorer Competition Classics began to disassemble and research the car, it soon learned there was more to chassis CSX2416 than first believed.

With assistance from Shelby American Automobile Club registrar Ned Scudder, Competition Classics soon learned that the Cobra in the shop was one of the two DragonSnakes fitted with the Stage III-D engine. It also came with a functional hood scoop, a cold air box, a unique two-into-two-into-four exhaust, polished magnesium wheels and a hard top.

That’s not to say the car was kept in original condition throughout its life. At some point, the fenders were flared, it was sprayed in bronze metallic paint, the side exhausts were chromed and a roll hoop was added to make it vintage-racing eligible. The car was raced at least once, finishing second at the 1974 Monterey Historic Races.

Following the race, the car sat in storage for over three decades. Restoration is a time-consuming process, but Competition Classics predicts the car will be ready to unveil at the 2013 Monterey Motorsport Reunion. In the mean time, you can catch a glimpse of the car in its current state at this year’s Monterey Motorsports Reunion, scheduled for August 17-19 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.