One of America’s most famous car racers and designers passed away today at age 89.
You may have never heard of Carroll Shelby but I am more than certain that you have ogled some of the cars that he has designed because I know that I have. Shelby has been a trailblazer in the world of both automotive ingenuity and the culture that still surrounds racing today. How crazy is it to think that this man helped engineer a racing machine that would beat Enzo Ferrari’s mad racing streak.
This man was not only an automotive super hero but he was also a beacon of hope to those who needed a role model. Having a rough childhood riddled with sickness and again battling with illness and severe injuries from racing accidents Shelby has battled his way through on to the next project and he has been a key part of design even up till his death. But what made Shelby a true hero was that he even founded his own foundation in order to aid children who were in need of organ transplants. This was a man who gave back to his community and never forgot his roots as the son of a rural mail carrier.
The only thing I think people get confused on is what company Shelby designed cars for. For the younger generation they would most remember him for the Ford Mustang Shelby pictured below:
but Shelby was most popularly known for his AC (Auto Carriers) Motors based Shelby American Cobra:
and then after beating Enzo Ferrari at Le Mans in 1959, Henry Ford II eventually recruited him in hopes to build a car that would beat out Ferrari at future Le Mans competitions and Ford hired the right man. The Ford group had 4 consecutive Le Mans wins from 1966 through 1969 thanks to Shelby.
and most of you may have already forgotten or may have never made the connection in the first place but Carroll Shelby was also responsible for the Dodge Shelbys/ Shelby Dodges.
Why’d he start working with Dodge? because Lee Iacocca asked him to. Iacocca was responsible for getting Shelby to Ford so this time he had him work as a “Performance Consultant” on the Dodge Viper but he ended up helping to design and change previous designs for the new Dodges.
And Shelby didn’t stop here. Although there were a lot of ups and downs attached with it, he had also managed to take his original designs from paper to finished product to create the Shelby Series 1. But to keep a long story short his company (Shelby American) was bought up, then that company (Venture Corporation) went bankrupt but not because of their Shelby purchase and Shelby ended up buying his stock back for pennies on the dollar but his Vehicle Safety Standards certificate had expired so he sold his car without a motor or transmission as a “component car” but people still bought them and made their own Series 1 Shelbys at home.
Makes me just want to up and be a car designer! I WISH!
You will be missed and remembered. For every engine rev and street race won I know that you have contributed a big part of the ever growing love and passion of cars in every true red blooded American and we will not forget it.
(Forgive the run on sentence).