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Carroll Shelby – A Legend Remembered

The big, and unfortunately sad automotive news recently involves the passing of a true automotive legend, Carroll Shelby. Shelby’s name has been everywhere in performance motorsports since the 1960s, and was an inductee in both the Motorsports Hall of Fame and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Although he came from a prominent racing background, his key contribution was in the development of sports and competition cars. In many ways, the cars he developed overshadowed his time on the race track. To this day, his cars are often mimicked yet never actually duplicated.

Shelby first came to prominence racing in the 1950s, even going so far as to compete in and win the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, racing for Aston Martin. Following his racing career, Shelby kept involved by developing cars through to recent years. His first, and most legendary car was the AC Cobra, more commonly known as the Shelby Cobra. These cars hold such continued public fascination that to this day there is an entire cottage industry around kit car replicas of Shelby’s Cobra.

As the years went on, the cars kept rolling. Shelby didn’t just work on his own, and provided consultation and development services for Ford, Dodge, and Oldsmobile. Some of the best known cars over the years with Shelby’s influence include Ford’s GT40, the Mustang-based Shelby GT350 and GT500, and the Dodge Viper. Probably the most unexpected car to receive the Shelby treatment over the years was the Dodge Omni GLH, which stood for, in Shelby’s own words, “goes like hell,” and was one of the definitive vintage hot hatches, and is remembered to this day.

Shelby stayed active throughout the 1990s, and into the 21st century. One of his more notable later achievements was the Oldsmobile-powered Shelby Series 1 roadster, the first and only car he designed from the ground up. The car debuted for the 1999 model year, with 249 built. In recent years, Shelby continued his long-time involvement with Ford, and released several prominent Musta

ng-based Shelby models, built on current vehicle platforms, including the GT500KR (King of the Road), which was prominently featured in the recent Knight Rider TV revival.

Carroll Shelby may be gone, but his cars will live on in the hands of collectors, and in the hearts and imaginations of everyone who has a passion for going fast and looking good while doing it.

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