Legendary Car Innovator Carroll Shelby Dies at 89
He changed the way Detroit looked at performance back in the 60’s and Carroll Shelby continued to push the envelope with horsepower to this day with his involvement in developing Ford’s 2013 GT 500 Mustang, certified as the most-powerful regular-production car in the world.
Shelby’s innovations on 60’s racing began in Europe when he first took on Ferrari’s and Porsches with his legendary ‘Cobra’ that fused Ford built 298 V8s with a lightweight British AC roadster.
In just a few short years, he became a dominant figure on the racing scene. He was courted by the top car manufacturers in the world to drive for them, including Ferrari. Shelby captured three national sports car championships in the United States, earned a spot on the Aston-Martin team in Europe, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and set land speed records at Bonneville Salt Flats. Twice, he was named Sports Illustrated’s “Driver of the Year.”
He is the only designer to have an impact on all three major auto makers, but Shelby is best known for his mark on the Mustangs, both in body design and engine mechanics.
He told USA Today two years ago;
“I love horsepower. I’ve built a lot of things that work and a lot of things that didn’t work.”
He told Drive ON that, “Of the 165 car projects I tried, just seven or eight turned a profit.”
He became good friends with Lee Iaccoca during Iaccoca’s stint at Ford and moved over to Chrysler for a brief time when Iaccoca took over. Together they developed the Dodge Viper, which paced the 1991 Indy 500 with Shelby at the wheel. But his heart drew him back to the muscle and power of the Mustangs and led to the development of the new Ford GT and the re-introduction of several Mustang based Shelby cars, including the Shelby GT-H, Shelby GT-500, Shelby GT-500 “Super Snake,” Shelby GT and Shelby GT500KR.
When he didn’t show at the NYC Auto Show this past April to tout his latest beast, the 950-horsepower Shelby 1000 and the 1,100-hp Shelby 1000 S/C, insiders began to quietly worry.
Edsel B. Ford II, member, Ford Motor Company board of directors and great-grandson of Henry Ford said of the man who traded in a chicken farm for muscle-car fame;
Today, we have lost a legend in Ford Motor Company’s history, and my family and I have lost a dear friend. Carroll Shelby is one of the most recognized names in performance car history, and he’s been successful at everything he’s done. Whether helping Ford dominate the 1960s racing scene or building some of the most famous Mustangs, his enthusiasm and passion for great automobiles over six decades has truly inspired everyone who worked with him. He was a great innovator whose legend at Ford never will be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”