Last Thursday Carroll Shelby, arguably the father of the modern muscle car passed. Though he is no longer with us his impact on the auto industry and sports cars and even the performance after market will be going strong just like his engines.
Carroll is best known for making the 1960's era Shelby Cobra which was small like the European supercars but with the big block muscle of American ingenuity (427) and created an era of powerful street cars with the sensibility to be competitive on the track.
Carroll was first aligned with Ford in the 1960's and then spent time working with virtually all American car makers over the years including the 1980's & 90's with Dodge and helped create the legendary Dodge Viper, which first came out in 1992.
But it was in the last 10 years that was some of Carroll's best work when he came back to Ford and helped make their long standing sports car the Mustang, an outright supercar. The best example of this is the Mustang Shelby GT500. Singlehandedly with the throwback design of the Mustang in 2004 and the plethora of aftermarket superchargers, performance upgrades and exterior modifications that turned this mild performance "pony car" into a vehicle that kept the engineers behind the rival Chevrolet Camaro honest and coming up with the next innovation to not lose pace with the steady stream of upgrades from Shelby American Inc.
But the first thing that Carroll Shelby a household name and someone to respect in the car business was his work behind the wheel in racing in the mid to late 1950's and being the first American race car driver to go to Europe and dominate in Formula 1. He was Sp;orts Illustrated's driver of the year back to back in 1956 & 1957.
After his racing days is when he got into the new and lucrative muscle car business and within the 1960's took the back alley world of creating fast cars into the showrooms of the big three automakers as well as creating his own marketable muscle car the Shelby Cobra (which debuted in 1962), which is still the most desirable and highest pricde muscle car with sensibilities to be raced on any road course but looks good enough to drive on any street.
But its Carroll's company Shelby American that will be his longest standing legacy with their deep catalog of high perfomance aftermarket parts and the upgrades of the current Ford Mustang GT.
And its Carroll who made purchasing a a custom sports car so easy with his Shelby American origanization. A customer can simply call Shelby American and and start the process to having a piece of American Muscle history.
And Shelby American still builds the Shelby Cobra in the following models:
1) Shelby Cobra CSX 4000/CSX 6000
2) Shelby Cobra CSX 7000
3) Shelby Cobra CSX 8000
These are legitimate race cars that are street legal and will get you attention and meet the needs of any speed demon and still look as innovative as that day in 1962 when Carroll Shelby created the first Cobra.
The next chapter in Carroll's life was his days at Dodge in the 1980's when he took their small "K" cars and made pocket rockets out of the Shelby Charger and even went further with their compact Omni and created the GLH (which is rumored to stand for goes like hell). Dodge continued to use Carroll's parts and influence until the early 90's creating desirable and fast cars such as the Daytona Tuurbo Z, Lancer Shelby, Shadow Competition, Spirit R/T (that only came with 5 speed manual transmission), and the Daytona IROC R/T.
But the crown jewel of Carrol's days at Dodge is the iconic Dodge Viper which made its debut at the 1991 Indianapolis 500, the Viper was produced from 1993 until 2010 but is now going back into production for 2012. You can see its lineage from the original 1962 Shelby Cobra but the Viper has a V10 engine otherwise its on the same platform of being a basic sports car with unbelievable performance. Its a car created for the race track but can be your commuter car every day as well.
But its the laast chapter for Carroll Shelby that brought hiom full circle back to Ford and putting incredible perfomance and options to the already formitable Mustange GT. But now buyers have the option to go to select Ford dealers (including Ron Tirapelli in south suburban Shorewood), and buy a already upgraded Shelby Mustang or call or order direct from Shelby American. These Ford Mustangs include:
1) Ford Mustang Shelby T500
2) Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
3) Ford Mustang Shelby GTS
4) Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 Super Snake
5) Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 Super Snake 50th Anniversary
6) Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350 Special Edition
7) Ford Mustang Shelby 1000
These are potent street legal cars with the potential to be track dominators and turn on drag racing win lights and pull a few checkered flags yet they run on regular pump gas.
So even all of these cars run fast, Carroll Shelby's legacy and love cars and speed will be around like the memory of these stand out muscle cars.