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Shelby in 2007
|Born||Carroll Hall Shelby|
January 11, 1923
Leesburg, Texas, U.S.
|Died||May 10, 2012 (aged 89)|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Teams||Aston Martin, non-works Maserati|
|First entry||1958 French Grand Prix|
|Last entry||1959 Italian Grand Prix|
Carroll Hall Shelby (January 11, 1923 - May 10, 2012) was an American automotive designer, racing driver, entrepreneur, and author. Shelby is best known for his involvement with the AC Cobra and Mustang (later known as Shelby Mustangs) for Ford Motor Company, which he modified during the late 1960s and early 2000s. He established Shelby American Inc. in 1962 to manufacture and market performance vehicles, as well as Carroll Shelby Licensing in 1988 which grew into Carroll Shelby International. He was also the author of his autobiography titled The Carroll Shelby Story.
Carroll Shelby was born on January 11, 1923, to Warren Hall Shelby, a rural mail carrier, and his wife, Eloise (Lawrence) Shelby in Leesburg, Texas. Shelby suffered from heart valve leakage problems by age 7 and experienced health complications from this throughout his life. Shelby's education as a pilot began in the military at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, later known as Lackland Air Force Base, in November 1941.
Shelby honed his driving skills with his Willys automobile while attending Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from Woodrow in 1940. He was enrolled at The Georgia School of Technology in the Aeronautical Engineering program. However, because of the war Shelby did not go to school and enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, serving in World War II as a flight instructor and test pilot in the AT-11 Kansan and Curtiss AT-9 Jeep. He graduated with the rank of staff sergeant pilot. Subsequently, he had short stints as an oil-well roughneck and as a poultry farmer prior to his racing career.
Starting out as an amateur, Shelby initially raced a friend's MG TC and borrowed Cad-Allards. He later recalled that the combination of the small English Allard and American V-8 power inspired his creation of the AC Cobra. His great success racing the Allards led to invitations to drive for the Aston Martin and Maserati factory teams in the mid-to-late 1950s.
The highlight of his race driving career came in 1959 when he co-drove an Aston Martin DBR1 (with Englishman Roy Salvadori) to victory in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. Beating the Ferraris brought him a special satisfaction because of the manner in which Ferrari had previously turned him down for a driving position. Due to an emerging heart condition that made it riskier for him to race, Shelby retired from racing following his Le Mans victory but kept a fire in his belly to beat the Ferraris that would soon be dominating the Sports Prototype and GT classes, and would lead him to become one of the leading sports car constructors of the 1960s.
Shelby wrote his memoir called The Carroll Shelby Story published in 1967 by Pocket Books. In 2019, the book was re-released by Graymalkin Media for the opening of Ford v Ferrari, a 2019 American sports drama film. The memoir describes his days as a race car driver, the challenges, the victories, and the crashes -- the worst of which he describes as an "explosion." The memoir also discusses the genesis for the revolutionary car he created, the Shelby Cobra. In Chapter 21, Shelby describes his life changing win at Le Mans in 1966 with driver Ken Miles against rival car manufacturer, Ferrari.
After retiring from driving in October 1959 for health reasons, he opened a high-performance driving school and the Shelby-American performance equipment and customization company in the Los Angeles area.
Shelby, from his racing experience with Allard, maintained an interest in putting large V8 engines in sports cars for racing. He also became interested in the potential of the AC Ace, which he raced against in the mid-to-late 1950s. During the early 1960s, he embarked upon a project to adapt the platform for an American V8 to produce a high performance sports car that could crack Ferrari's dominance in GT class racing. AC had noticed the declining competitiveness of the 2 liter Bristol engine in their racing Ace and readily agreed to supply versions of their Ace bodies and chassis suited to a V8 for Shelby's project, provided a supplier of V8 engines could be obtained. Chevrolet was reluctant to supply engines for a potential competitor to their Corvette but Ford, looking to start a racing program based on their products, agreed. The new car would be named the AC Cobra.
The first Cobras, powered by Ford's 4.2 liter V8, were ready in 1962, in both street and competition versions. After testing of the first examples, Shelby specified use of the 4.7 liter version of Ford's small block engine, modifications to some body and chassis details, and improvements to suspensions and running gear. In 1963 the Cobra was campaigned successfully in the Sports Car Club of America's United States Road Racing Championship, taking top honors in the GT class. Shelby experimented with Ford's 6.4 liter engine but the small-block V8 was deemed more suitable for road racing with the Cobra chassis. Racing experience from 1963 indicated that further modifications were necessary to make the Cobra competitive with the Ferrari GT cars; in particular the AC roadster body needed to be replaced with a lower drag enclosed coupe body for high speed circuits. The result was the Shelby Daytona Coupe, which took three GT class wins on the World Sportscar Championship circuit, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1964, and won the GT Manufacturers' title for Ford in 1965. Shelby produced variants of the Cobra roadster into 1967. The 427 Cobra, with a redesigned chassis and suspension, proved a formidable competitor in American sportscar racing and was also successful in drag racing.
After success with the Daytona Coupe in 1964, Shelby-American became more heavily involved in Ford's GT40 Sports Prototype racing program, which had experienced disappointing results. Shelby made changes to running gear, particularly transmissions, to improve reliability, and designed their GT40 Mark II variant around Ford's 7.0 liter engine. The results paid off spectacularly in 1966, with the Mark II bringing Ford the overall Constructors' title in the World Sportscar Championship, clinched with their 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans. But Ford could not rest on its laurels in light of Ferrari's determined efforts, and was developing a radical new prototype with a lightweight chassis based on aluminum honeycomb panels. Shelby was brought in to finalize development of the car after the project experienced setbacks in 1966. The Mark IV was introduced for the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and won handily, then was prepared for Le Mans. Various misfortunes took Ford out of realistic contention for a repeat title, but the Shelby-American team delivered another record-breaking statement win at Le Mans. An exclamation point was added to that statement when Dan Gurney shook and sprayed champagne on the podium, starting a tradition. The Mark IV was Shelby's last prototype racer, as new limits on engine displacement for that class took all of Ford's high performance engines out of eligibility.
Shelby's early racing successes led to a joint effort of Ford and Shelby-American to produce the Mustang-based Shelby GT350, starting in 1965, then the Shelby GT500, starting in 1967. Shelby produced those cars through 1968, then subsequent cars with the Shelby GT brand were produced in-house by Ford.
In the intervening years, Shelby had a series of ventures start and stop relating to production of "completion" Cobras -- cars that were allegedly built using "leftover" parts and frames. In the 1960s, the FIA required entrants (Shelby, Ford, Ferrari, etc.) to produce at least 100 cars for homologated classes of racing. Shelby simply ordered an insufficient number of cars and skipped a large block of Vehicle Identification Numbers, to create the illusion the company had imported large numbers of cars. Decades later in the 1990s, Carroll alleged that he had found the "left over" frames, and began selling cars which were supposedly finally "completed". After it was discovered the cars were built from scratch in collaboration with McCluskey, Ltd., they were re-termed "continuation" Cobras. The cars are still built to this day, known as the current CSX4000 series of Cobras.
He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1992, the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Diecast Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame on March 2, 2013.
Shelby began working with Dodge at the request of Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca. Iacocca had previously been responsible for bringing Shelby to the Ford Mustang. After almost a decade of tuning work, Shelby was brought on board as the "Performance Consultant" on the Dodge Viper Technical Policy Committee made up of Chrysler's executive Bob Lutz, Product Design chief Tom Gale, and Engineering Vice President François Castaing. Shelby was used for his wealth of experience to make the Viper as light and powerful as possible.
The following cars were modified by Shelby and bore his name, but sold under the Dodge marque:
The following cars used Shelby-modified parts, but were not overseen by Carroll Shelby:
The following cars were limited production vehicles and modified at Shelby's Whittier, California, plant, and then sold as Shelby's:
Above information citation
Shelby's Series 1 roadster used Oldsmobile's 4.0 L L47 Aurora V8, but was poorly supported by the ailing GM division. Shelby had already built an Aurora-engined sports prototype together with Racefab in 1997, in an attempt to continue his single-make Can-Am series.
The Series 1 is the only car ever produced by Carroll Shelby from a clean sheet of paper, and built from the ground up. All other Shelbys were re-engineered models produced by other manufacturers and then modified by Shelby.
Prior to production of the Series 1, significant costs were incurred in testing and certification required to conform to 1999 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Once completed, a total of 249 production Series 1 cars were constructed by Shelby American as model year 1999 cars.
During production, Venture Corporation purchased Shelby American, Inc. The purchase included the Series 1 model, but not the rights to produce the "Continuation Series" Shelby Cobras. In 2004, after a subsequent bankruptcy by Venture Corporation (unrelated to the acquisition of Shelby American), Carroll Shelby's new company, Shelby Automobiles, Inc., purchased the Series 1 assets for pennies on the dollar. Included in the asset purchase were enough components to produce several more complete Series 1s.
Because the 1999 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards certificate had expired, and the cost to re-certify the car was prohibitive, all Series 1's produced after that date were completed as "component cars" and delivered with no engine or transmission. Those "component car" models built in 2005 are identified with a seven-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) and were designated with a CSX5000 series serial number. The original 249 were production cars with a seventeen-digit VIN.
The Series 1 was produced in both supercharged and normally aspirated versions. Supercharged cars were also outfitted by the factory with larger brakes and a heavy duty clutch. Performance is near "supercar" category with a 0 to 60 mph time at 4.1 seconds for the supercharged version. Nicely optioned, Series 1 had power steering, power disc brakes, factory air conditioning, power windows, and an AM/FM/CD audio system. The convertible top folded away out of sight in a compartment located behind the cockpit. Some component cars were sold as roadsters, with no convertible top.
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The new contract between Ford Motor Company and Carroll Shelby signaled hope for Shelby products built under Ford. In 2004, a new Ford Shelby Cobra Concept was shown off at U.S. car shows. Built with a retro body mimicking the 1960s Cobras mixed with modern touches, it was based on the Ford GT chassis (reworked for front engine/rear wheel drive) powered with a 6.4 L V10 engine that produced 605 hp (451 kW). It received overwhelmingly positive press reviews and has won the "Best In Show" award at Detroit International Auto Show.
A coupe version of the Shelby Cobra roadster was introduced the following year. The Ford Shelby GR-1 concept car of 2005. While sporting a completely modern design, it showed a nod to the 1960s Shelby Daytona. The GR-1, like the Cobra, is based on the GT's chassis. Press reviews for the GR-1 have been positive. The car was featured on the cover of Motor Trend and Car Magazine. The Ford Shelby GR-1 could possibly be built, taking over the Ford GT's production line after its production comes to an end.
In 2005, Carroll Shelby built his first modern Masterpiece, the CSM #00001 V6 Shelby Mustang CS6, to prove to Ford that he could still build high-performance cars, and that he did, with the V6 putting out 380HP it made the V6 Shelby faster than Ford's V8 300HP. Ford thought the CS6 would hurt Ford Mustang V8 sales, Ford told Shelby to go with the V8 instead. Few CS6 Shelbys were made by Shelby; consequently these are among the rarest Shelbys in the world.
The Shelby GT500 was revealed at the New York International Auto Show, and became available in the summer of 2006 as part of the model year 2007 lineup. It was powered by a 5.4 Liter Modular V8, with four-valves-per-cylinder heads borrowed from the $150K Ford GT supercar, an Eaton M122 Roots-type supercharger and is rated by Ford at 500 hp (370 kW) and 480 ft?lbf (650 N?m) of torque. It boasts a Tremec T-6060 manual transmission, reworked suspension geometry, 18-inch wheels, functional aerodynamic body kit, and still retains the solid rear axle. The GT500 starts at an MSRP of $40,930 for the coupe, and $45,755 for the convertible version. Although Carroll Shelby had no hands-on involvement in the design of the car, he did provide Ford and SVT (Special Vehicle Team) input on what would make the car better and convinced Ford to enlist wider rear tires (from 255 mm wide to 285 mm wide).
Shelby, in cooperation with the Hertz Corporation, produced 500 cars named "Shelby GT-H" in 2006. This was a special-edition Ford Mustang GT, available for rental from Hertz. A Ford Racing Performance Group FR1 Power Pack increased the GT's 4.6 L V8 engine to 325 hp (242 kW). The cars included a custom Shelby hood and black and gold body styling, incorporating a gold-plated "Hertz" nameplate on both sides.
A consumer version of the Shelby GT-H was available from Shelby through Ford dealers, called the Shelby GT. There were 5,682 vehicles for 2007 and 2,300 for 2008 were built. They had the same engine as the GT-H, but more suspension, appearance and drivetrain upgrades and was available with either manual or automatic transmission. White and black colors were available for 2007 models and grabber orange or vista blue were available for 2008. A convertible was available in 2008 also. An available upgrade from the Shelby factory in Las Vegas were a few different superchargers. It then was called a Shelby GT/SC. All Shelby GTs are shipped with the Shelby serial number (CSM) on the dashboard badge and in the engine compartment, such as 07SGT0001 or 08SGT0001.
In his later years, Shelby brought several lawsuits against companies making copies of the Cobra body for use on kit cars - ostensibly for copyright, trademark and patent violations. Despite the litigation, the Cobra kit car industry continues to thrive.
One of the lawsuits involved the Superformance Brock Coupe, a copy of the original Shelby Daytona Coupe. The Superformance Brock Coupe was designed by Pete Brock, who had also designed the original Daytona Coupe for Shelby. Shelby American sued Superformance after Superformance had developed and begun production of the Superformance Brock Coupe. Eventually, the litigation was settled, though the terms of the settlement (if any) have never been released to the public. As a result of the agreement between the two companies, the product is now known as the Shelby Daytona Coupe, despite being neither designed nor built by Shelby American. Nearly 150 of these new Shelby Daytona Coupes have been built as of February 2007.
In 2002, Unique Performance, a company of Farmers Branch, Texas, purchased a license from Carroll Shelby Enterprises to place his name on a series of continuation vintage vehicles. This company specialized in recreating 1960s-style Shelby Mustangs. They purchased used Mustangs and installed updated versions of the Shelby 325-horsepower 302-cubic-inch V8 engine. They also utilize modern five-speed manual transmissions, brakes, steering, suspension, interiors and entertainment systems. Because Shelby's license was purchased, these cars have Shelby serial numbers.
In October 2007, Carroll Shelby ended his licensing agreement with Unique Performance due to numerous issues of customer complaints where vehicles were not delivered. Unique Performance was subsequently raided by law enforcement due to VIN irregularities and declared bankruptcy, which effectively ended the Shelby continuation "Eleanor" Mustang production. Shelby was in turn sued by victims of Unique Performance for his involvement in the criminal activity,
The 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds movie highlighted the star car character "Eleanor," a customized 1967 Mustang. Some custom car businesses began to reproduce "Eleanor" looking cars with the trademarked name, causing Denice Halicki to again take legal action to protect the trademark and the copyrighted Eleanor's image. In 2008, Halicki won a case against Carroll Shelby, who was also selling "Eleanor" using the trademark name and copyrighted image.
The fascinating and complex history of the Scaglietti Corvette began when Gary Laughlin, a wealthy Texas oil man and gentleman racer, had just broken the crankshaft in his Ferrari Monza. Like most Ferrari repairs, this was not going to be a cheap, simple fix. At the time, Laughlin was an active participant of the American sports car racing scene and was a close acquaintance of many of the key figures, including fellow Texan Carroll Shelby. The two had witnessed a number of V8 powered home-built specials challenge, and often defeat, the best that Europe had to offer. The idea developed that they should build a dual-purpose car based on the solid mechanicals of the Chevrolet Corvette. European-style alloy coachwork could help the chassis finally realize its potential. By chance, Laughlin owned a few Chevrolet dealerships and had a particularly valuable friend in Peter Coltrin, an automotive journalist who had gained an "in" with the influential Italians. Laughlin met with Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby to begin discussing what form their new Italian-American hybrid would take. The general consensus was that they should create a car that offered the best of both worlds - a Corvette with the distinction, performance and style of a Ferrari, but with the power and reliability of a Chevrolet. The aim was to create a genuine high-performance GT with enough leg and headroom to meet American expectations. Once this was decided, Coltrin put Laughlin in touch with Sergio Scaglietti. With the help of Chevrolet General Manager Ed Cole, three 1959 Corvette chassis were discreetly acquired from the St. Louis Corvette plant before bodies could be fitted - one was specified with a "fuelie" and a four-speed, the others came with twin four barrels and automatics. During one of his frequent trips through Europe, Laughlin met with Sergio Scaglietti who agreed to produce a small run of bodies for the Corvette chassis. At the time, Scaglietti was busy turning out Ferrari's Tour de France and purpose-built racing cars. The Scaglietti Corvette would follow the lines of the Tour de France, albeit lines adapted to fit the Corvette's larger footprint. In an effort to impress, or perhaps, appease GM management, Laughlin specified a proper Corvette grille. The interior would be similarly hybridized with an intriguing combination of Americana - Stewart Warner gauges, T-handle parking brake, Corvette shift knob; and classic Italian GT - a purposeful crackle-finish dashboard, deeply bolstered leather seats and exquisite door hardware.
The completed car arrived in Texas in the fall of 1960, almost 18 months after the chassis had been obtained. It proved to be the only one of the three to be finished in Italy and shipped back to the United States as a complete car. When Laughlin received the car, the fit and finish were not quite what he was expecting, especially as the project had taken nearly three years from conception to completion. Enzo Ferrari would have been quite unhappy to hear that his exclusive coach builder was working on side projects for a group of Texans, so, to Scaglietti's credit, the car was largely a prototype and the work was executed in a shroud of secrecy. Towards the end of the project, Carroll Shelby, who by then was living in Italy, received a late-night phone call from Ed Cole. Cole had been chastised by GM management and was told to drop the project. It was poor timing. American car companies were under pressure to cut down on their high-performance and racing programs. They simply could not deal with the repercussions of a GM-backed Italian bodied Corvette. The remaining cars were shipped to Houston in a partially completed state. Jim Hall took delivery of one. Shelby, who had helped conceive the project, ended up declining the remaining car and it was promptly sold.
Carroll Shelby's name is associated with a chili fixings kit. The kit consists of spices in several packets, which used to come in a miniature brown paper bag, but now comes in a box. On the side of the bag is a story related by Shelby about cooking chili during his racing days. On the front of the bag is a depiction of a big western black hat, a trademark piece of clothing for Shelby. He was a founder of the Terlingua International Chili Championship in Terlingua, Texas.
In 1967, Shelby marketed a men's grooming product, the "Carroll Shelby's Pit-Stop ... a Real Man's Deodorant" that was promoted in car magazines.
Donzi Marine developed the Donzi Shelby 22 GT, a 22-foot (7 m) speedboat based on their Classic line of boats in collaboration with Carroll Shelby.
Carroll Shelby produced a line of eight-spoke alloy wheels for Saab automobiles in the early to mid-1980s. They were available in gold (Goldvane), hammered silver (Silvervane) finish, and a black hammered finish. These wheels were available through Saab dealers and could be fitted to Saab 99 and Saab 900 models manufactured through 1987.
Shelby supported a project with Rucker Performance Motorcycles to manufacture 12 Shelby motorcycles that were designed by William Rucker.
In 2008 Shelby was awarded the 2008 Automotive Executive of the Year Award.
Shelby established the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation to cover medical bills of children who have heart disease but are unable to pay for treatment.
Shelby was married seven times. Shelby's first wife was Jeanne Fields; they married on December 18, 1943. They had three children: Sharon Anne (born September 27, 1944), Michael Hall (born November 2, 1946) and Patrick Bert (born October 23, 1947). They divorced in February 1960; Shelby later admitted to an extramarital affair with Jan Harrison, an actress. In 1962, Shelby married Harrison, but the marriage was annulled the same year. His third marriage to a New Zealand woman, which he entered in order to get her into the United States, lasted only a few weeks before ending in divorce. His fourth marriage, to Sandra Brandstetter, lasted a couple of years before ending in divorce.
In 1989, after 28 years single, Carroll married Cynthia Psaros, a former actress, beauty queen, and daughter of a retired US Marine colonel and fighter pilot. During this marriage, Carroll received his long-awaited heart transplant. Their marriage lasted only a year before ending in divorce. In 1990 he married Helena "Lena" Dahl, a Swedish woman he had met in 1968. She died in a car accident in 1997. It was his only marriage which did not end in divorce, annulment, or separation. Just four months after Dahl's death, Shelby married his last wife, Cleo, a British former model who drove rally cars. She was 25 years his junior. They were in the process of divorce when he died in 2012.
Shelby received a heart transplant in 1990, and a kidney transplant in 1996.
|1954||Aston Martin Lagonda||Paul Frère||Aston Martin DB3S||S
|1959||David Brown Racing Dept.||Roy Salvadori||Aston Martin DBR1/300||S
|1958||Scuderia Centro Sud||Maserati 250F||Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6||ARG||MON||NED||500||BEL||FRA
|1959||David Brown Corporation||Aston Martin DBR4/250||Aston Martin RB6 2.5 L6||MON||500||NED
* After retiring his original car, entered by Scuderia Centro Sud, Shelby took over Masten Gregory's car, entered by Temple Buell, and finished fourth. No points were awarded for the shared drive.
Shelby is portrayed by Matt Damon in Ford v. Ferrari, a film about the 1960s rivalry between Ford and Ferrari at the Le Mans auto race. It is produced by 20th Century Fox and is directed by James Mangold.  The film began shooting in the summer of 2018 and was released in theaters on November 15, 2019. The film premiered on September 10, 2019 at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Shelby features prominently in Bill Cosby's comedic story "200 M.P.H." (1968). Shelby (voiced by Cosby) convinces Cosby that, since he was an American, he should drive an "American car" - specifically, a custom-made Shelby "Cobra" that was guaranteed to go 200 M.P.H., faster than any foreign sportscar. The story takes up the entire second side of Cosby's seventh album, 200 M.P.H.
When Lee Iacocca became president of Chrysler, he called Shelby back to infuse some life into the bland little automobiles that were the backbone of Dodge. Between 1986 and 1989, Shelby responded with a series of Dodge cars that were blindingly fast and performed far beyond anyone's expectations.