Carroll Shelby built the cars for the American dream

- May 12th, 2012

Carroll Shelby was more than a race car builder extraordinaire.
He was an American institution. Shelby brought to life the dreams of a generation who worshipped fast times and faster cars.
He practically invented the American muscle cars with their sports car physique and big block V8 Detroit horsepower.
And he took his own Shelby Cobra over to Europe and beat the crap out Enzo Ferrari’s super cars in both speed and endurance races.
His death this week at age 89, in his home state of Texas was not unexpected.
For all the accolades he will get over the next few days and weeks, Shelby also holds a record few, except for family and friends remember: He was the longest surviving heart transplant patient in North America, having received his hew ticker back in 1990, allegedly from a Las Vegas gambler who met and untimely death.
But his claim to fame was certainly in the design and building of street-legal hot rods.
Here are a few of his accomplishments:
— In 1959, he helped Aston-Martin capture the World Manufacturing Championship by winning the 24 Hours of LeMans with Roy Salvadori as a co-driver.
— In 1961 after he learned that AC Bristol, a British auto manufacturer, was discontinuing a certain chassis, he had some shipped to him at his new base in Los Angeles. Then he talked his friend Lee Iacocca, then a Ford executive, into building a car that would “blow the Corvettes into the weeds.” That car with the light European-style chassis melded with a big American V8 engine became into the Shelby Cobra.
— Starting in 1963 the Cobras won Sports Car Club of America manufacturing championship for three consecutive years.
— In 1965 the Shelby Cobra beat out Ferrari, the first and only time an American-conceived car won the world championship. A year later, European rule makers banned the 7-liter engine used by Shelby.
— In 1982, Lee Iacocca, chairman of Chrysler Corp., brought Shelby back into the car designing and marketing business. Shelby served as a performance consultant for Chrysler sports car programs and helped introduce the Viper, a 400-horsepower, V-10 product that emphasized power.
— In 2011 Ford re-hired Shelby to work on the concept for the new 2013 Mustang GT500.

 

Categories: Motorsports

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