Photo: Courtesy Shelby
Even if you know nothing about cars, you know the name Shelby.Carroll Shelby, whose name is synonymous with performance, died Friday at the age of 89 after a long stint in the hospital due to medical complications.
Since his retirement from competitive driving in 1959 due to a heart condition, Carroll turned his focus to building some of the fastest and most insane cars on the road.
Through his 50 years in the automotive manufacturing business, Shelby worked with each domestic automaker on a number of cars and had disagreements with nearly every one of them.
Shelby was one of the most influential and pioneering people in the auto industry. But outside the industry, he was also the person to live the longest after a heart transplant. He even started a charity, the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation, to help children in need of organ transplants.
After his retirement from racing, Shelby struck a deal to import cars from British company AC. He shoehorned in a Ford V8, and the legendary Cobra was created.
The most outrageous variant was the Cobra Super Snake. It may have had an automatic transmission, but it also had 925 horsepower. Only two were built. Bill Cosby famously bought one, drove it once, and then promptly sold it to someone else. It terrified him. Shelby sold his car in 2007 for $5 million.
While the Cobra was powerful, it wasn't close to aerodynamic. The gorgeous Daytona Coupe was built to take on the high-banks of Daytona and other endurance races. Just six were built.
Shelby had his hand in the Le Mans winning Ford GT40. He took over running the development after the Mark I car was complete. Mark IV cars were built by Shelby in America instead of England.
One of the most famous cars he ever built was the Shelby Mustang GT350. The famous white cars with blue stripes made the Mustang a staple at race tracks nationwide.
Rental car company Hertz also commissioned a limited run of Mustangs, call the GT350H. These were famously rented by racers and taken to the drag strip. The Cobra Jet engine also joined the lineup in 1968 to create the GT500.
While he was working with Chrysler, Shelby also worked on the spiritual successor to the original Cobra, the Dodge Viper.
When he was done with Chrysler, Shelby worked on his own car, the Series 1. It had power from an Oldsmobile V8 and is the only car that Shelby totally built from scratch.
In 2003, Shelby reunited with Ford. The V10-powered Cobra Concept was the first car that came from this new collaboration.
One year later, the Shelby GR-1 Concept appeared at the Detroit Auto Show, which was a modern interpretation of the Daytona Coupe.
in 2007, the Shelby name returned to Ford Mustangs with the latest, 500 horsepower GT500. Shelby passed away on the eve of the release of the 2013 Shelby GT500, which has 662 horsepower.
His company also just released the Shelby 1000 a few weeks ago. This is a Mustang with 1000 horsepower. Even though he's gone, we're confident his spirit will live on.
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