He is a true gear head and was the mastermind behind the Shelby Cobra and the Shelby GT500. Carroll Shelby passed away in a Texas hospital with an unknown cause of death. He has been hospitalised for more than a month for pneumonia but he has a known long history of heart problems, including a heart transplant in 1990.
Shelby is survived by his three children and his wife. Let us take a look at his illustrious career in the automotive industry.
It is rather impossible to describe the impact Shelby has had on the automotive world. Born in 1923, Shelby only started racing in 1952 at the age of 29 and it was a quarter mile drag race. Later that year he won his first road race in an MG TC.
By 1956, he had won many races and that earned him the title of Driver of the Year from Sports Illustrated and he won that title again in 1957. In 1959, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in an Aston Martin and he also competed in Formula One in 1958 and 1959.
By the late 1950s, Shelby’s health condition put him out of the racing driver’s seat and that was the point where he started concentrating building cars. Shelby was well known for building the Shelby Cobra. Using a chassis built by AC Cars in England, the car was powered by a Ford V8 engine.
The car was officially homologated in 1962 and the Shelby Cobra won its first race in January 1963. The following year, the car was fitted with a big block 427 Cobra engine and it dealt serious blows to Ferrari, who is the dominant motor sports competitor at that time.
Shelby’s long running relationship with Ford began in 1965 when the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 hits the showrooms and race track. In the following year, a Shelby-backed Ford team won first, second and third place at Le Mans; making it the first time an American team winning the championships. The team would take the title again in 1967 and the Ford GT40 took first place for four straight years from 1966 to 1969.
Ford ended its partnership with Shelby in 1970 and he remained quiet in the automotive world until the 1980s when Dodge approached Shelby to build high performance Dodge vehicles. The Dodge Omni and Charger build with the help of Carroll Shelby was superior to the V8 powered Mustangs and Camaros of that time.
In the following decade, Shelby was involved in the Dodge Viper and Ford GT programs and he was also inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. As mentioned above, he received a heart transplant in 1990.
Nowadays, the name Shelby is associated with the Mustang GT500 from Ford. It is clear that he has made a great impact in the automotive world and even though he is no longer around, his influence would be felt by car enthusiasts for many years in the future.