Carroll Shelby was born on January 11, 1923 in Leesburg, Texas. For all intents and purposes he was just a man, like any other. However those with even the most minute interest or knowledge of the automotive industry will understand when I say he was by no means like any other.
Having suffered with extreme heart conditions from age 7, Shelby defied the odds throughout his life, serving in World War II in the United States Army Air Corps followed by a long and illustrious career in motorsport as both a driver and manufacturer, including a stint in Formula One and title to 16 United States and international speed records.
His health problems did eventually end his driving career; however that only led to the establishment of what is most definitely the most recognised American performance house in history – the Shelby-American company.
The company’s first project involved a successful British sports car manufactured by AC Motors of England, into which Shelby installed a small-block Ford V8, rather than the piddly Bristol straight six. The resulting car was introduced to the American public as an AC Cobra, later to be known as a Shelby or Shelby Cobra, and with that Carroll Shelby’s name was etched into the history books.
Shelby’s relationship with engine supplier Ford was to blossom, leading to many projects with the Detroit-based motoring giant that included the Daytona Coupe, GT40 and the Mustang-based Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT500.
Sadly Carroll Shelby’s heart problems led to his death earlier this year. In tribute, Ford together with Shelby American, Ford Racing and many others have teamed up to create a one-of-a-kind 640kW Ford Shelby GT500 Cobra.
The unique tribute car was unveiled by Ford at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion where Cobra is the marque of show for 2012. Using the 2013 Shelby GT500 as a foundation, “Friends of Carroll” created the one-of-a-kind 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra wide-body Mustang that generates an earth shattering amount of power with the help of a Ford Racing 4.0-litre Whipple supercharger.
Ford teamed up with Shelby American for several key components on the Carroll Shelby tribute car. Shelby American provided a specially designed bonnet, new rear wide-body kit, Shelby Wilwood brakes and new 20×13-inch rear and 20×10-inch front wheels. The bodywork is finished in the same Guardsman Blue with Wimbledon White stripes that graced so many of the Cobra roadsters built in the 1960s.
“Carroll Shelby changed the performance world forever,” says Shelby American president John Luft. “And while he was proud of Shelby American’s achievements, Carroll was far more interested in the next car we would build. You will find the spirit and influence of Carroll Shelby in every future vehicle we build just as you’ll find it in the rear wide-body kit and bonnet integrated into the 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra.”
First published in Autodealer KZN