"For $400. less than a Colt a fella could get a new Ruger."
Not just a Ruger.
I think the first people to get carried away with the Python mystique was Colt. In 1967, the Python in Royal Blue was $135; an S&W Model 19 was $120, and a Model 27 was $130. So the Python was very competitive. (There were no Ruger DA's.)
In 1998, the Colt Python, in Royal Blue, had gone up to $815; the S&W Model 19 to $430. The Ruger GP-100 was $440. But other Colts were still competitive with S&W and Ruger.
So either Colt's cost had risen sharply on the Python alone, or they were milking the Python mystique for all it was worth.