There are few men who have had as profound affect on the automotive world than Carrol Shelby. An American-born Texas boy, Carroll has his hand in nearly all aspects of the automotive world from racing, to design to handling the business end as well. Passing on in May, 2012, Mr. Shelby left behind a proud heritage of muscle cars that nearly every Ford fan will know a little something about… and a many Dodge drivers as well.
Before heading off important design work for Ford and Dodge, Mr. Shelby was a notorious race-car driver. Getting started in the 1950s, Carroll drove a friend’s MG TC until later going on to race for Maserati and Aston Martin. Winning many awards, the highlight of Shelby’s racing tenure came in the 1959 season when he and his partner driver, Roy Salvadori, succeeded at winning the famous 24-hour LeMans race. In a normal person’s life, this would be enough to retire and life happy.
Carroll Shelby had other plans. Taking heart medicine and whirring around a circle at nearly 200 mph takes it’s toll on a man eventually, even a near-god like Mr. Shelby. Carroll couldn’t walk away from his passion for the automobile. So, he took his love for cars and became a designer, working for both Dodge and Ford each with many separate vehicles and with much acclaim. The “Shelby” badge on any vehicle became synonymous with speed, performance and consequentially, sex-appeal.
America knew that Shelby meant speed and they wanted it on their car. Whether you drive or previously drove a Charger, Mustang, Cobra, Daytona or a handful of other muscle cars that the man touched, you drove a piece of irreplaceable automotive history.
To be accurate and fair, Carroll actually only ever designed one entire vehicle from the ground up and that was a car named the “Series 1” which, while constructed, never went into a real production run. 249 original Series 1 vehicles were made for General Motors using a old Oldsmobile V8 design, but sadly these vehicles spent their entire lives in warehouses or private collections.
The bulk of Shelby’s work came in the form of modded versions of factory production vehicles– modifications, of course, that were designed to make the car go faster. If you’ve ever been for a ride in a 2012 Shelby GT500, you know the man was all about speed and it definitely shows in his cars.