Carroll Shelby

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Carroll Shelby
Shelby in 2007
BornCarroll Hall Shelby
(1923-01-11)January 11, 1923
Leesburg, Texas, U.S.
DiedMay 10, 2012(2012-05-10) (aged 89)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Formula One World Championship career
Active years19581959
TeamsAston Martin, non-works Maserati
Career points0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1958 French Grand Prix
Last entry1959 Italian Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
TeamsDavid Brown Racing Dept
Best finish1st (1959)
Class wins1

Carroll Hall Shelby (January 11, 1923 – May 10, 2012) was an American automotive designer, racing driver and entrepreneur. Shelby is best known for his involvement with the AC Cobra and Mustang for Ford Motor Company, which he modified during the late 1960s and early 2000s. He established Shelby American in 1962 to manufacture and market performance vehicles. His autobiography, The Carroll Shelby Story, was published in 1967.[1]

As a race car driver, his highlight was as a co-driver of the winning 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans entry driving an Aston Martin DBR1. He then went on to win the SCCA USAC Road Racing Sports Car Championship in 1960 driving a Maserati Tipo 61 "Birdcage" and a Chevrolet Scarab Mark II. As an automotive designer, he is known for developing the Ford GT40 along with racing legend Ken Miles, which won at Le Mans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969. As of 2024, it remains the only American built car ever to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His and Miles's efforts at Le Mans were dramatized in the 2019 Oscar-winning film Ford v Ferrari.

Early life[edit]

Carroll Shelby was born on January 11, 1923, to Warren Hall Shelby, a rural mail carrier, and his wife, Eloise Shelby (born Lawrence), in Leesburg, Texas.[2][3] Shelby suffered from heart valve leakage problems by age 7 and experienced several health-related complications throughout his life.[4][5] From a young age, Shelby was fascinated with the concept of speed, which led to an interest in cars and airplanes. He moved to Dallas, Texas, at age 7 with his family, and around age 10, he rode his bicycle to dirt tracks nearby to watch races.[6] Eager for a car of his own, at age 15, he was driving and taking care of his father's Ford.[7] Shelby's education as a pilot began in the military in November 1941 at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, later known as Lackland Air Force Base.[3] Before racing and building cars, Shelby was a poultry farmer, which was a livelihood he continued until 1952.[6]


Shelby honed his driving skills with his Willys automobile[8] while attending Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas, graduating in 1940. He later enrolled at The Georgia Institute of Technology in the Aeronautical Engineering program. After enlisting in the United States Army Air Corps, Shelby began pilot training in November 1941. He graduated with the rank of staff sergeant pilot in September 1942 at Ellington Field.[9] In December 1942, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant after undergoing air students' training, later serving in Colorado and Texas as a flight instructor and test pilot in the Beechcraft AT-11 Kansan and Curtiss AT-9 Jeep.[7][10][11] He went on to fly the Douglas B-18 Bolo, the North American B-25 Mitchell, the Douglas A-26 Invader, and finally the Boeing B-29 Superfortress at Denver, Colorado, before being discharged following V-J Day.[12]

After the war, he started his own dump truck business, worked briefly as an oil-well roughneck from 1948 to 1949, and then as a poultry farmer before going bankrupt.[12]: 27–31 

Driving career[edit]

Shelby beside his 1957 Maserati 450S at Virginia International Raceway in 2007

Shelby started driving professionally at age 29.[6] Starting out as an amateur, Shelby raced his friend Ed Wilkin's MG TC[13] in January 1952 at the Grand Prairie Naval Air Station drag meet, followed by other races. Then, he raced Charles Brown's Cadillac-Allards at Caddo Mills, Texas. At the end of 1952, Shelby won 4 races, taking home only trophies, not accepting any prize money.[12]: 31–35 

In 1953, Shelby raced Brown's Cad-Allard, followed by Roy Cherryhomes' Cad-Allard, winning 8 or 9 races. Then in 1954, he drove in the Mil Kilometros de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, sponsored by the Automobile Club of Argentina and the Sports Car Club of America. This is where he met John Wyer, Aston Martin's team manager, who asked Shelby to drive their DBR3 at Sebring.[12]: 37–47  The DBR3 did not finish Sebring in 1954 due to a broken rear axle.

Shelby traveled to Europe in April 1954, where he raced a DBR3 for John Wyer at Aintree, followed by Le Mans. Teaming up with Graham Whitehead, their Aston Martin took fifth at the Thousand Kilometers at Monza on 27 June. He then drove in the 3-car factory team effort at Silverstone on 17 July with Peter Collins and Roy Salvadori, all three cars taking the three top places.

Shelby racing an Aston Martin DBR1/300 at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1958

In August 1954, Shelby drove with Donald Healey, and his team. In an Austin-Healey 100S and supercharged 100S, they set Class D National speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Shelby, Healey, Captain G.E.T. Eyston, Mortimer Morris Goodall, and Roy Jackson-Moore set about 70 new records, with Shelby setting 17 on his own.[12]: 58–60 

Shelby was severely injured in a crash while racing an Austin-Healey in the Carrera Panamericana. Though he underwent eight months of operations, he continued to drive in 1955, winning about ten races, and a second-place showing at Sebring driving Allen Guiberson's Ferrari Monza. He then started driving Tony Paravano's Ferraris in August 1955. He won a further 30 races with the Ferrari in 1956, started driving for John Edgar, and opened Carroll Shelby Sports Cars in Dallas.[12]: 60–65, 68, 76 

He drove in the Mount Washington Hillclimb Auto Race in a specially prepared Ferrari 375 GP roadster, to a record run of 10 minutes, 21.8 seconds on his way to victory in 1956.[14] He also set records at Giants Despair Hillclimb, and raced at Brynfan Tyddyn.[12]: 77 

He was Sports Illustrated magazine's driver of the year in 1956 and 1957.[15][12]: 79 

Racing John Edgar's 4.5-liter Maserati at the Riverside International Raceway in September 1957, he was involved in a crash that caused injuries requiring 72 stitches and plastic surgery for broken bones in his nose and cheekbones. However, he returned in November, winning with the same car at the same course, against Masten Gregory and Dan Gurney.[12]: 1–2, 83–87 

Shelby joined John Wyer and the Aston Martin team in Europe and drove a DBR3 at the Belgian Sports Car Grand Prix on 18 May 1958, followed by a DBR1 at the Nürburgring 1000 km with co-driver Salvadori. Shelby was teamed up with Salvadori at Le Mans, but Shelby came down with dysentery and had to be replaced by Stuart Lewis-Evans after a few hours into the race. Shelby then drove a Maserati 250F for Mimo Dei's Scuderia Centro Sud in 3 Grand Prix races to gain Formula 1 and open-wheel car experience, including the Portuguese Grand Prix. Shelby finished the year driving John Edgar's 4.5L Maserati in the Tourist Trophy at Nassau.[12]: 105, 108–110, 114 

Shelby and Salvadori started the 1959 sports car season by driving the DBR1/300 at Sebring in March. In June, Shelby drove Wolfgang Seidel's Porsche in the Nürburgring 1000 km. The highlight of his racing career came in June 1959 when he co-drove an Aston Martin DBR1 (with Englishman Roy Salvadori) to victory in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans.[16] In September, Shelby drove with Jack Fairman in the Goodwood Tourist Trophy.[12]: 111, 115–116, 122–134 

The 1959 Grand Prix season saw Shelby driving the Aston Martin DBR4 in the Dutch Grand Prix in May, followed by the British Grand Prix at Aintree in July. Shelby then drove in the Portuguese Grand Prix in August, followed by the Italian Grand Prix in September.[12]: 119 

Shelby finished the 1959 racing season driving Casner Motor Racing Division's Birdcage Maserati at the Nassau races in December. In January 1960, he drove Temple Buell's Maserati 250F in the New Zealand Grand Prix, then Camoradi's Porsche in the Cuban Gran Premio Libertad, then their 2.9-liter Birdcage Maserati at Sebring. He won the Grand Prix at Riverside driving one of "Lucky" Cassner's Birdcage Maseratis, and then won the Castle Rock race in June, driving a Scarab. He finished the year driving Max Balchowsky's "Old Yeller II" in the Road America, then a Birdcage Maserati in the Pacific Grand Prix and the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix, which was his last race.[12]: 145, 155, 157–158, 164–169 

According to Shelby, "...winning the Twenty-four Hours was probably the greatest thrill I ever got out of racing. I can think of plenty of other races that carry their quota of thrills for the winner, but when you win this one it kind of gives you license to go out and tell people you're good, and that often helps get some other deals together."[12]

In 1961, Shelby, along with Pete Brock, opened the Shelby School of High Performance Driving at the Riverside track.[12]

As constructor[edit]

1965 AC Cobra 427 (North America)

Shelby's visits to "limited-production factories in Europe" caused him to realize that “America was missing a big bet, a winning bet ... the design and production of an all-purpose, all-American sports or grand touring car that you could drive to market and also race during the weekend..." In particular, Shelby's starting point was putting a 300 brake horsepower V8 on an Austin Healey type chassis, so that the combination weighed less than 2,600 pounds (1,180 kg).[12]: 90–93 

After retiring from driving in October 1960 for health reasons,[17] Shelby opened a high-performance driving school and the Shelby-American performance equipment and customization company in the Los Angeles area. Shelby became interested in the potential of the AC Ace chassis, especially after Bristol Aeroplane Company stopped building automobile engines, and the sales with the Ford Zephyr engine were declining in September 1961. Shelby contacted Charles Hurlock of AC, who agreed to provide the chassis on credit. Dave Evans of Ford Motor Company agreed to provide 221-cubic-inch (3.6-litre) and 260-cubic-inch (4.3-litre) V8 engines with transmissions also on credit. The new car, called the Carroll Shelby Experimental or CSX0001, was marketed as the Shelby AC Cobra, then AC Cobra, and eventually, the Ford Cobra. Production began in March 1962, with 75 cars sold by the end of the year. One hundred cars had been built by April 1963, the first 75 with the 260-cubic-inch engine, followed by a 289-cubic-inch (4.7-litre) engine. The 427 Cobra prototype was built in October 1964.[12]: 172–183, 190, 195 

Shelby started racing his creation in October 1962 at Riverside, with Billy Krause driving the CSX0002. 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 1964 World Sportscar Championship GT circuit, including Le Mans and the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, plus the Sports Car Club of America's U.S. GT Championship. Then in 1965, Shelby American Cobra won the International Championship for GT Manufacturers.[12]: 180, 202, 208–210, 213–214, 217, 221 

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-litre (427 cu in) engine. In 1966, the Mark II earned Ford the overall Constructors' title in the World Sportscar Championship with their 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans. Ford was also developing a radical new prototype with a lightweight chassis based on aluminum honeycomb panels. Shelby was brought in to finalize the development of the car after the project experienced setbacks in 1966, which included the death of driver Ken Miles in August.[18][19] The Mark IV was introduced for the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and finished in first place. It was prepared for Le Mans and another record-breaking finish. Driver Dan Gurney shook and sprayed champagne on the podium and started a tradition. The Mark IV was Shelby's last prototype racer, as new limits on engine displacement for that class eliminated Ford's engines.

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.

After parting with Ford, Shelby moved on to help develop performance cars with divisions of the two other Big 3 American companies: Dodge (Chrysler) and Oldsmobile (General Motors).

In the intervening years, Shelby had a series of ventures start and stop relating to the 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 "leftover" frames, and began selling cars that 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.

Shelby was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America[20] in 1992, the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1992,[21] and the Diecast Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame on March 2, 2013.[22]

In 2003, Ford Motor Co. and Carroll Shelby resumed ties and he became technical advisor to the Ford GT project. In that same year, he formed Carroll Shelby International, Inc., based in Nevada.

Partnership with Dodge[edit]

Shelby began working with Dodge at the request of Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca.[23] 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.[24] Shelby's wealth of experience helped make the Viper as light and powerful as possible.[24]

The following cars were modified by Shelby and bore his name, but sold under the Dodge marque:

  • 1983–1984 Dodge Shelby Charger
  • 1985–1987 Dodge Charger Shelby
  • 1984–1986 Dodge Omni GLH
  • 1996 Dodge Viper RT/10 CS (50 units approved for production however only 19 were actually built: 18 1995/1996 RTs were built (16 white with blue stripes, 1 blue white stripes, 1 black with gold emblem on the hood and one 1997 GTS Shelby S/C (Street Competition) which was red with gold stripes.)

The following cars used Shelby-modified parts, but were not overseen by Carroll Shelby:

1986 Shelby GLH-S on display at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum

The following cars were limited production vehicles and modified at Shelby's Whittier, California, plant, and then sold as Shelbys:

Above information citation[25]

Shelby Series 1[edit]

Shelby Series 1

Shelby unveiled the Series 1 roadster at the 1997 Los Angeles Auto Show, with the intention for it to be a modern day reinterpretation of the original Shelby AC Cobra. The Series 1 used Oldsmobile's 4.0 L L47 Aurora V8, which was chosen because it was the selected engine by Indy for that year 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.[26]

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.

Before manufacturing the Series 1, substantial expenses were accrued for the purpose of conducting tests and obtaining certification in order to comply with the 1999 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Shelby American built a total of 249 production Series 1 cars 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.[27][failed verification] 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.[28] The 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 in a compartment located behind the cockpit. Some component cars were sold as roadsters, with no convertible top.

Ford-Shelby projects[edit]

1965 Shelby Cobra dashboard autographed by Carroll Shelby on display in the Martin Auto Museum

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) and powered by a 6.4 L V10 engine that produced 605 hp (451 kW). It received overwhelmingly positive press reviews[citation needed] and won the "Best In Show" award at the Detroit International Auto Show.

A coupe version of the Shelby Cobra roadster was introduced the following year in 2005, the Ford Shelby GR-1 concept car. While sporting a completely modern design, it took inspiration from the design of the 1960s Shelby Daytona. The GR-1, like the Cobra, is based on the GT's chassis. Press reviews for the GR-1 were positive. The car was featured on the cover of Motor Trend and Car Magazine. The Ford Shelby GR-1 was floated as a possibility of taking over the Ford GT's production line after its production came to an end. Neither Shelby concept was built.

In 2005, Carroll Shelby built his very first modern Masterpiece CSM:00001 V6 Shelby Mustang CS6 and #01 V8 to prove to Ford that he could still build high-performance cars. Its V6 produced 380 hp, making it faster than Ford's 300 hp V8. Because Ford thought the CS6 would hurt Ford Mustang V8 sales, Ford told Shelby to go with the 500 hp V8 instead.[citation needed] Shelby first built a V8 modern version look of the Eleanor. Carroll built only one at the Shelby Factory. Later WCC built 4 as kits. Few CS6 Shelbys were also built as kits; consequently, these are among the rarest Shelbys in the world.

At the 2005 New York International Auto Show, Ford introduced the Shelby GT500, the first official collaboration between Shelby and Ford on a Mustang since 1971. It became available in the summer of 2006 as part of the model year 2007 lineup. It was powered by a supercharged and intercooled Modular 5.4L V8 engine, with four-valves-per-cylinder heads borrowed from the Ford GT, an Eaton M122 Roots-type supercharger and a power output rated by Ford at 500 hp (507 PS; 373 kW) and 480 lb⋅ft (651 N⋅m) of torque.[29] It had a Tremec T-6060 6-speed manual transmission, reworked suspension geometry, 18-inch wheels, functional aerodynamic body kit, and a retro solid rear axle. The GT500 started at an MSRP of $40,930 for the coupe, and $45,755 for the convertible. Although Carroll Shelby had no hands-on involvement in the design of the car, he provided Ford and SVT (Special Vehicle Team) input on what would make the car better and convinced Ford to use wider rear tires (from 255 mm wide to 285 mm wide).[citation needed]

Shelby, in cooperation with the Hertz Corporation, produced 500 cars named "Shelby GT-H" in 2006, designed after the Shelby G.T.350H "Rent-a-Racer" from 1966 under a similar partnership.[30] 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 were 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.

Both Ford and Shelby American continue to use the Shelby name on high performance variants of the Mustang.

Non-Ford projects[edit]

In 1963 the Rootes Group, manufacturer of Sunbeam automobiles, wanted Shelby to upgrade their Alpine sports car to a more powerful version, using the Ford small-block V-8 engine, as he had done with the AC Cobra. Shelby did so and Rootes, pleased with the results, named the upgraded model the Tiger. In 1967 Chrysler bought Sunbeam and decided to use their own small block engine in the vehicle. However, their engine would not fit and marketed the cars with Ford engines until the supply ran out and the model was discontinued.

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.[citation needed] Despite the litigation, the Cobra kit car industry continues to thrive.[citation needed]

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 the company had developed and begun production of the Superformance Brock Coupe. Eventually, the litigation was settled, though the terms of the settlement 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.[citation needed]

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 use modern five-speed manual transmissions, brakes, steering, suspension, interiors, and entertainment systems. Because Shelby's license was purchased, these cars have Shelby serial numbers.[31]

1967 custom Fastback Mustang Eleanor from the 2000 film Gone in Sixty Seconds

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 for VIN irregularities and declared bankruptcy, which effectively ended the Shelby continuation "Eleanor" Mustang production.[32] Shelby was in turn sued by victims of Unique Performance for his involvement in the criminal activity,[33]

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.[34][35][36]

The Scaglietti Corvette began when Gary Laughlin, a wealthy Texas oilman, 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 in the American sports car racing scene and was a close acquaintance of many of the key figures, including fellow Texan 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 elegant door hardware.

1959 Scaglietti Corvette

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 coachbuilder 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.

Other projects[edit]

Shelby licensed his name to many products outside of the automotive industry. Currently, his name and other trademarks associated with him are licensed to other companies by Carroll Shelby Licensing, a subsidiary of holding company Carroll Shelby International.[37]

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 brown paper bag, but now comes in a box.[38] On the side of the bag was a story related by Shelby cooking chili during his racing days. On the front of the bag was 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.[15] The product has since been bought by Reily Products who have discontinued the inclusion of a separate salt packet.[39]

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.[40]

Shelby was the initial partner of Dan Gurney in establishing Gurney's All American Racers.[41]

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.[42]

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.[43]

Shelby supported a project with Rucker Performance Motorcycles to manufacture 12 Shelby motorcycles that were designed by William Rucker.[44]

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.[45]

In 2008, Shelby initiated a partnership with the Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC) Automotive Program. NTCC is the local community college for Shelby’s hometown of Leesburg, Texas. He provided a significant monetary gift to fund scholarships for local students interested in automotive technology and made a commitment to continue providing support. The program was renamed the Carroll Shelby Automotive Program that same year and the Carroll Shelby Foundation continues to provide annual scholarships and facilitate unique learning opportunities for NTCC students.


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 Shelby Cobra.

Personal life[edit]

Shelby at a Terlingua event in 2008

Shelby was married seven times; the first and last marriages lasted 15 years before divorce proceedings.

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.[46] In 1962, Shelby married Harrison, but the marriage was annulled the same year.[47] 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 of being single, Carroll married Cynthia Psaros,[citation needed] a former actress, beauty queen, and daughter of a retired US Marine colonel fighter pilot.[citation needed] During this marriage, Carroll received his long-awaited heart transplant. Their marriage lasted a few short years before ending in divorce. In the 1990s 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 that did not end in divorce, annulment, or separation.

Just four months after Dahl's death, Shelby married his last wife, Cleo (nee Rendell-Roberts), 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.[48][49][50]

Shelby received a heart transplant in 1990, and a kidney transplant in 1996.[51]

Shelby died on May 10, 2012, at the age of 89.[52][53] He had been suffering from a serious heart ailment for decades.[54]

Racing record[edit]

Complete Formula One World Championship results[edit]


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Pts
1958 Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 ARG MON NED 500 BEL FRA
NC 0[55]
Temple Buell POR
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.[56]

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1954 United Kingdom Aston Martin Lagonda Belgium Paul Frère Aston Martin DB3S S
74 DNF
(Front axle)
1959 United Kingdom David Brown Racing Dept. United Kingdom Roy Salvadori Aston Martin DBR1/300 S
323 1st 1st

Complete 12 Hours of Sebring results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1954 United Kingdom Aston Martin Ltd. United States Charles Wallace Aston Martin DB3S S3.0 77 DNF
(Rear end)
1955 United States Allen Guiberson United States Phil Hill Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder S3.0 182 2nd 1st
1956 United Kingdom David Brown & Sons, Ltd. United Kingdom Roy Salvadori Aston Martin DB3S S3.0 187 4th 1st
1957 Italy Maserati Company United Kingdom Roy Salvadori Maserati 250S S3.0 68 DSQ
(Illegal refuel)
1958 United Kingdom David Brown & Sons, Ltd. United Kingdom Roy Salvadori Aston Martin DBR1/300 S3.0 62 DNF
1959 United Kingdom David Brown-Aston Martin United Kingdom Roy Salvadori Aston Martin DBR1/300 S3.0 32 DNF
(Gear lever)
1960 United States Camoradi USA United States Masten Gregory Maserati Tipo 61 S3.0 3 DNF

In popular culture[edit]

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 and Shelby's friendship with legendary race car driver Ken Miles. It was produced by 20th Century Fox and directed by James Mangold.[58] 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 American: The Carroll Shelby Story is a 2019 feature-length documentary about Shelby's life and career.[59]

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.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Levine, Robert (July 15, 2006). "King of the Road". Vanity Fair. No. July.
  2. ^ "The Official Carroll Shelby Website: History page". Archived from the original on November 20, 2010. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "The Life of a Legend through the Years". May 11, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  4. ^ Glick, Shav; Hirsch, Jerry (May 12, 2012). "Legendary car designer Carroll Shelby dies at 89". Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ Ricci, Dean V. (July 15, 2007). "Carroll Shelby – Living Legend". Shelby American Automobile Club: Motor City Region. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Shelby, Carroll (December 10, 1997). "Carroll Shelby - The Lost Interview". Youtube. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Shelby American Inc. History". Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "Woodrow Wilson High School, Dallas, Texas: Class of 1967 Home Page". Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  9. ^ Lyons, Pete (May 15, 2012). "Carroll Shelby: 1923-2012". Autoweek. Archived from the original on April 7, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  10. ^ Carroll Shelby, Statements made at the Formula SAE awards ceremony in May of 1993.
  11. ^ "Carroll Shelby—from Curtiss to Cobra". June 1, 2002.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Shelby, Carroll (1965). The Carroll Shelby Story. Graymalkin Media. pp. 15–27. ISBN 9781631682872.
  13. ^ Egan, Peter (August 2012). "Carroll Shelby: An American Original". Road & Track. 63 (12): 80–83.
  14. ^ "Records". Climb to the Clouds. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  15. ^ a b Blair, Sam (December 29, 2007). "At 84, legendary Shelby keeps pedal to the metal". Los Angeles Times. pp. C1, C6. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  16. ^ "Carroll Hall Shelby". Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 2020. February 2020 – via Academic Search Complete.
  17. ^ "Automobiles", episode about Ford Motor Company, History Channel
  18. ^ "Crash kills ace driver Ken Miles". St. Petersburg Times. (Florida). UPI. August 18, 1966. p. 1C.
  19. ^ "Miles dies in crash". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Florida). Associated Press. August 18, 1966. p. 25.
  20. ^ Carroll Shelby at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
  21. ^ Automotive Hall of Fame
  22. ^ Lewandowski, Dave (January 8, 2013). "Notes: Rahal among five elected to SCCA Hall". IndyCar. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  23. ^ Davison, Eric (2004). Snake Bit: Inside Carroll Shelby's Controversial Series 1 Sports Car. MBI Publishing. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7603-1781-5. Retrieved January 3, 2011. 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.
  24. ^ a b Young, Tony (2004). Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth Muscle. BMI Publishing. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-7603-3204-7. Retrieved May 15, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "Shelby Dodges and Dodge Shelbys". Archived from the original on January 5, 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  26. ^ "One-of-One – The 1997 Shelby Aurora V8 Can-Am Prototype". Silodrome. May 22, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  27. ^ "All About Buying & Selling Shelby Mustangs and Cobras". Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  28. ^ "Shelby Series 1" (PDF). Car and Driver. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  29. ^ "2007 Shelby Mustang GT500". automobile-catalog. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  30. ^ "2006 FORD SHELBY GT-H". Ford Performance. Archived from the original on October 29, 2020. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  31. ^ "Muscle Cars Reborn".
  32. ^ Johnson, Merritt (November 6, 2007). "Unique Performance raided by local police". Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  33. ^ "Unique Performance victims sue Carroll Shelby". April 3, 2008. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  34. ^ Business Wire (November 13, 2008). "Ninth Circuit Court Hands Winning Victory to Denice Halicki in Dispute with Carroll..." Reuters (Press release). Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved December 27, 2015. {{cite press release}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  35. ^ "Recent Win: Ninth Circuit reverses judgment against GMSR's clients in copyright/trademark case concerning "Eleanor" from "Gone In 60 Seconds"". Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland. November 12, 2008. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  36. ^ Smith, Jonny (April 9, 2009). "1967 Ford Mustang 'Eleanor' recreation". The Times. London. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  37. ^ "About Us". Archived from the original on October 4, 2019. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  38. ^ "Products". Reilly Foods. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  39. ^ "Carroll Shelby's Original Texas Chili Kit 3.65 oz". Reily Products. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  40. ^ Bowers, Jesse (January 19, 2010). "1967 Carroll Shelby Advertising of Pit Stop deodorant, sad, Really sad". Just a Car Guy. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  41. ^ Bornhop, Andrew (May 2012). "Celebrating 50 Years of Shelby". Road & Track. 63 (9): 52–61.
  42. ^ Laban, Brian (2015). Shelby and AC Cobra. Crowood Press. ISBN 9781785000041. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  43. ^ "A Minilite Wheels for Saab Cars by Carroll Shelby". February 7, 2022.
  44. ^ Neil, Dan (July 2000). "Shelby Series 1 Titan Motorcycle". Car and Driver. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  45. ^ Glick, Shav; Hirsch, Jerry (May 12, 2012). "Carroll Shelby dies at 89; cult classic car designer". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 14, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  46. ^ Mills, Rinsey (April 26, 2012). Carroll Shelby: The Authorized Biography. Motorbooks. ISBN 9781610583114.
  47. ^ "Carroll Shelby: 1923-2012". May 10, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  48. ^ Levine, Robert. "King of the Road". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  49. ^ "In Death, Carroll Shelby Still Surrounded By Controversy". Motor Authority. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  50. ^ Legate, Trevor (2006). Cobra: The First 40 Years. St. Paul, MN: MBI Publishing. p. 240. ISBN 9780760324233.
  51. ^ "Shelby was racer, automaker, heart transplant recipient". May 11, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  52. ^ Box, Terry (May 11, 2012). "Legendary racer, car-builder Carroll Shelby dies in Dallas at 89". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on May 13, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  53. ^ "Legendary car designer Carroll Shelby dies". Associated Press. May 11, 2012. Archived from the original on February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  54. ^ Eisenstein, Paul A. (May 14, 2012). "Carroll Shelby Dead at 89". The Detroit Bureau. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  55. ^ no points awarded for shared drive in the 1958 Italian Grand Prix
  56. ^ Lang, Mike (1981). Grand Prix! Vol 1. Haynes Publishing Group. p. 138. ISBN 0-85429-276-4.
  57. ^ "All Results of Carroll Shelby". Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  58. ^ "James Mangold to Direct Ford vs. Ferrari Film as 'Logan' Follow-Up". February 5, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  59. ^ Blanco, Sebastian (November 15, 2019). "Watch Shelby American Documentary That Tells the Real Carroll Shelby Story". Car and Driver. Retrieved June 2, 2020.


Shelby Cobra and Ford GT Racing[edit]

  • Carroll, William (1964). Ford Cobra Guide. Sports Car Press. ISBN 0-87112-066-6. An inside look at early Cobra racing 1962 through 1963.
  • Shelby, Carroll (1965). The Cobra Story. Motorbooks. ISBN 978-0-87938-019-9. Shelby's story of his life and racing through 1964.
  • Shelby, Carroll (1967). The Carroll Shelby Story. Pocket Books. A revised and enlarged version of "The Cobra Story," covering the Cobra's successes in 1965 and 1966, as well as including technical specifications for the 289 and 427 Cobras.
  • Shoen, Michael L. (1990). The Cobra-Ferrari Wars 1963–1965. Cfw Guidebooks. ISBN 978-0-9625093-0-8. Covers Cobra and Ferrari racing through 1965.
  • Levine, Leo (2001). Ford, the Dust and the Glory: A Racing History, 1901–1967. Society of Automotive Engineers. ISBN 978-0-7680-0663-6. Ford racing programs through 1967.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
With: Roy Salvadori
Succeeded by