Skip to main content

The story of Texas native Carroll Shelby as a race-car driver began in the early 1950s and was elevated to legend status when he and co-driver Roy Salvadori won First Place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 driving an Aston-Martin DBR1. A bad heart forced Shelby’s retirement from driving race cars, but his passion for racing and his desire to build high-performance sports cars led to his creation of the Cobra in 1962. The first Cobra was born when he installed an American Ford V8 in the engine bay of a small two-seater English roadster, the AC Ace. The power-to-weight ratio of this mechanical marriage made the Cobra startlingly fast, and famous overnight. Competition-prepared Cobras dominated sports car road-racing for several years, winning the FIA World Manufacturers Championship in 1965.

In 1964, Ford asked Shelby to turn his skills to the company’s newly introduced Mustang. Decidedly not a race car in its stock form, the Mustang was nonetheless turned into a snarling, very fast race car under Shelby’s wing, and it was called the G.T.350. Ford’s desire to make the pubic aware that the Mustang was more than a secretary’s car was more than fulfilled when race-prepared G.T.350s (the “R” models) won the SCCA B/Production National Championship in 1965, 1966 and 1967, notably beating the Corvettes, Ford’s other goal for the program.

Carroll Shelby was also contracted by Ford to bring his winning ways to the Ford GT project in the mid 1960s, an all-in effort by Ford designed to compete in international racing events and, particularly, to beat the Ferraris at the 24 Hours of LeMans. Shelby delivered in 1966 and 1967, the Ford GT becoming one of the most respected race cars the world over. Shelby also built and raced Mustangs in SCCA’s Trans-American Sedan Championship from 1966 through 1969, bringing the Manufacturers Championship title home for Ford in 1966 and 1967.

Carroll Shelby, one of the most successful, and most revered and remembered individuals in motorsports –here and abroad– passed away at the age of 89 on May 10, 2012.

Shelby | Vehicles in this Category