Skip to content

A Tribute to Carroll Shelby, dies at 89 years old (1923-2012). May you RIP.

Automotive genius and legend Carroll Shelby died yesterday at the age of 89. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Carroll has recently been hospitalized for pneumonia.

What an utter, absolute genius this man was, and always will be as his automotive designs will continue to live on. Born on January 11, 1923, in Leesburg Texas. Carroll Hall Shelby was born to Warren Hall Shelby, a rural mail carrier and Eloise Lawrence Shelby.

A few moments in Carroll Shelby’s timeline of racing

Shelby began racing in 1952, but it was in January 1954 that Shelby attracts the attention of John Wyer, Atson Martin’s team manager and meets international Grand Prix driving greats Juan Fangio and Peter Collins. In April 1954, Shelby drives an Aston-Martin DBR3 for Wyer, finishing second and leading to a co-driver spot with Aston-Martin at Le Mans in June 1954.

In August 1954, Austin-Healey invited Shelby to help set 70 new Class D records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

In March 1957, Sports Illustrated named Shelby, “Driver of the Year.”

In June 1959, co-driving an Aston Martin DBR1/300, Shelby won the 24 Hours of LeMans.

In February 1960, Shelby experienced chest pains and doctor incorrectly diagnosed the problem as unrelated to the heart.

In May 1960, doctors diagnosed Shelby’s chest pains as “angina pectoralis,” in which the coronary arteries are starved for blood.

Then, lastly, December 3-4, 1960, Shelby competed in his last race and won the USAC driving championship for 1960.

The early years of Carroll Shelby’s car production

Many people are quite familiar with his famous venomous Cobra hot rod. Although short-lived, it proved it’s power and strength in racing.

April 1962, the first Cobra, CSX 2000, was painted pearlescent yellow and was shipped to the New York Auto Show for the Ford display. Dealers began ordering and Shelby-American committed to building its new Cobra.

In March 1965, Cobra Daytona Coupe finished first overall in the Sebring 12-Hours – also out-running a Ferrari.

June 18-19, 1966, Ford and Shelby American, made history as GT-40 Mark II’s crossed the finish line at Le Mans 1-2-3 making it the first time an American team had won at Le Mans.

In March 1967, the last 427 Cobra Roadster is built.

Shelby Cobra Daytona
Year: 1965
Specs: 390 hp, 4.7L Ford V8

Shelby Cobra 427 SuperSnake
Year: 1966
Specs: 800hp, 7.0L Twin Supercharged V8

Carroll Shelby takes a break

From 1974 to 1982, Carroll took a break and spent most of his time traveling, especially in South Africa. Additionally, Shelby created his own Chili Powder and marketed it internationally… Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Brand Chili Preparation-little brown packets of flour and spices promised to “shake the meanness out of the most ornery, leather-mouthed chili-head that ever was born.”

Carroll returns to the auto industry

In 1982, Carroll Shelby teamed up with Lee Iacocca and Chrysler to create the Dodge products. In November, prototype Dodge Shelby Chargers were built and displayed. Later, in 1987, Shelby envisioned and began prototype work on a Dodge sports car, which later became the “Viper.”

Dodge Viper prototype

Carroll Shelby Heart Fund Foundation

In June 1990, Shelby received a heart transplant. On May 26, 1991, Shelby started the Carroll Shelby Heart Fund to help finance organ transplants for children in need.

“When you hear those words, ‘I think we found you a heart,’ there is nothing so sweet.” ~ Carroll Shelby while awaiting his heart transplant.

The later years

On October 1, 1992, Shelby was inducted into International Motor Sports Hall of Fame.

Carroll Shelby’s Mustang

Carroll Shelby is best and most widely known for his Shelby Mustangs. After winning a series of Trans-Am Racing titles his relationship with Ford began to blossom and as a result Shelby produced a string of high-performance variants of the Ford Mustang from 1965-1970. After a hiatus with Ford that lasted 37 years, the Shelby nameplate was revived in 2007.

My favorite… “Eleanor.” (sigh) A 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 featured in the year 2000 version of Gone in 60 Seconds with Nicholas Cage. The original version of “Eleanor” was a 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 featured in the original 1974 film Gone in 60 Seconds. The engine is a Ford 428 that pumps out 650 horsepower and close to 1,000 horsepower with nitrous. Pffffft pfffffft

1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 aka “Eleanor”

1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1

The GT500 was first put into production in 1966 and carried a sticker price of $4,195. They were instantly popular, outselling the 289-powered engines nearly 2-to-1.

Sold for $130,000 at 2007 Bonhams & Butterfields.
Sold for $112,200 at 2008 Russo & Steele.
This 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 Fastback came from the factory well equipped. It has 10-spoke Shelby alloy wheels, AM-FM radio, wood rim steering wheel, power steering, automatic gearbox, dual carburetors, ‘Cobra LeMans’ cast aluminum valve covers, shoulder harnesses and a folding rear seat. It wears an older restoration with a paint scheme finished in dark metallic blue with black vinyl interior.

Interesting Fact about Eleanor: “Eleanor” is the only Ford Mustang in history to receive Star title credit in a movie.

On March 23, 2005, Shelby GT500 introduced at New York International Auto Show. And in January 2006, The First 2007 Ford Shelby GT 500 was auctioned at the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction and raised $600,000 for the Carroll Shelby Foundation.

In January 2007, CSX3015 ­ Shelby Super Snake was sold for a record breaking $5 Million at the Barrett-Jackson Auction.

In April 2009, Carroll Shelby was presented with the lifetime achievement award as the Automotive Executive of the Year in Detroit.

In May 2011, Carroll Shelby was honored by the World Children’s Transplant Fund for his generous donations to organ transplantation over the years.

On May 10, 2012, Carroll Hall Shelby, a man whose vision for performance transformed the automobile industry, died at age 89, in Dallas TX. May you rest in peace, Carroll.

Old News Reel
1967 Carroll Shelby Ford Mustang GT TV Commercial 67

Photos of Carroll Shelby


•  Digital Trends: Automotive legend Carroll Shelby dies at 89
•  Complex Rides:  King Cobra: The 7 Best Shelby Cars Ever Mad
•  Concept Car Z:  Ford Mustang GT 500
•  Wikipedia:  Eleanor (automobile)
•  Carroll Shelby:  An American Legend (a tribute site)
•  The Carroll Shelby Foundation website

Go ahead... I can hear your thoughts. Please share with the rest!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: