To our friends across the Pond – the home of Ford – there was no one who defined the world of fast Fords more than Carroll Shelby, who died last week.
Shelby was integral to all things performance Ford in the US for almost 60 years, producing stunning performance vehicles from concepts to production models.
The designer, racing driver and entrepreneur was most well known for making the AC Motors-based Shelby Cobra and the Ford Mustang-based performance cars also known as Cobras. The AC Shelby Cobra made its first ever appearance 50 years ago this year.
Shelby most recently worked with Ford on the 2013 Shelby GT500 Mustang, and while working with SVT engineers at Sebring and the Arizona Proving Grounds, at times he drove for more than eight hours – at the ripe old age of 88. He was having so much fun, he didn’t want to stop.
He once said his energy and passion for performance products were always strongest when he was working with Ford.
Carroll Shelby’s last collaboration, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500, produces 662bhp and 631lb/ft of torque, making it the most powerful production V8 engine in the world – a fitting tribute to a man who, just like us, didn’t think production Fords were fast enough!
Key moments in the history of Carroll Shelby and Ford Motor Company
1952: Shelby enters first race at the wheel of a Ford-powered hot rod
1962: Shelby tests his first Ford-powered AC 260 Roadster – the car that would become the Shelby Cobra. Shelby-American begins operations in Venice, Calif. Cobra production begins
1964: Ford asks Shelby to develop a high-performance Mustang derivative. First Shelby prototypes are built
1965: Shelby GT350 is introduced. Ford hires Shelby-American to oversee GT40 program. Hertz begins buying GT350H versions for its “rent-a-racer” program
1966: Ford GT40 Mark II wins Le Mans. First 1967 Shelby GT500s delivered
1967: Ford and Shelby-American win Le Mans, again. 1968 Shelby Mustang convertibles debut
1968: 1969 model year production begins
1969: Shelby Mustang production ends
1970: Ford and Shelby end their long-term racing agreement
2001: Carroll Shelby is invited by Ford to consult on GT40 Concept
2002: Ford green-lights production of Ford GT
2003: Ford invites Shelby to collaborate on a concept car that pays homage to original Shelby Cobra
2004: Ford Shelby Cobra Concept steals the show at NAIAS. Ford asks Shelby to consult on a follow-up concept. Shelby announces it will build limited-edition Shelby Ford Expedition. Ford unveils Shelby GR-1 Concept
2006: Shelby GTH debuts at New York Auto Show
2007: GT500 name debuts
2008: First 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR rolls off the line on Carroll Shelby’s 85th birthday. Partnering with Ford Racing, Shelby fields factory race team for the first time since 1969
2011: Debut of 662bhp, 631lb/ft 2013 Ford Shelby GT500, the most powerful production V8 engine in the world
2012: 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 sells at Barrett-Jackson for $350,000