Today marks a dark and sad day for many petrolheads, as well as the entire automobile industry. Creator of perhaps one of the most revered nameplates in history and by far some of the most iconic cars in motoring history has passed through the golden gates into the racing circuits above: Mr. Carroll Shelby died yesterday at the age of 89.
His death came officially announced by his establishment, Carroll Shelby International.
Famous for cars such as the Shelby Cobra sports car and one of the most famous alliances in all of automobile history—combining Shelby’s intuition with Ford’s Mustang, a legacy that still continues to this day—Carroll Shelby is undoubtedly a historic icon.
“Carroll is sort of like the car world’s Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays,” Jay Leno once told The New York Times back in 2003. “Unlike so many racers, he didn’t come from a rich family, so he signifies that Everyman, common-sense ideal. When I was a kid, American cars were big, clunky things, until Carroll used his ingenuity to make them compete with European cars.”
Carroll Shelby started off his career in 1959 and became the second American-born driver to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. But it wasn’t until 1962 that he created Shelby American, which is when the infamous Cobra was born. Following in 1964, Lee A. Iacocca of Ford conceived the Ford Mustang, in which Iacocca then asked Shelby specifically to create a special, high-performance version for racing.
That following January in 1965 then saw the world’s first Shelby Mustang, the GT350. Shelby’s projects then led to the GT500 and GT500KR, but ultimately, the world-renown Ford GT40.
Shelby’s legacy still carries on to this day with Carroll Shelby International cranking out high-performance edition Mustangs while still contributing to the motorsports and aftermarket tuning industries.
- By: Chris Chin