Skip to comments.Carroll Shelby, legendary car builder and racing champion, dies at age 89
Posted on 05/11/2012 3:04:56 PM PDT by shove_it
Carroll Shelby, an international automotive icon who rose from a bed-ridden childhood in Texas to build one of the most iconic sports cars ever and become a world-champion racer died Thursday at the age of 89 after a lengthy illness. His cars will live forever.
A winner at Le Mans in 1959, a driver in everything from Formula 1 to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Shelby's lasting impact will be the cars he built, namely the Shelby Cobra 427 that beat Ferrari in Europe and his variations of the Ford Mustang that he was involved with from the 1960s through his death.
Throughout his career, Shelby battled and overcame his physical limitations, from racing crashes to a congenital heart defect that required several surgeries and eventually a heart transplant in 1990.
Born Jan. 11, 1923, in Leesburg, Texas, Shelby was the son of a rural mail carrier. After being confined to bed for much of his first several years, his heart grew strong enough for Shelby to take an interest in cars. During World War II, Shelby served as a flying instructor, and wrote letters to his fiancée by putting them in flying boots he'd drop on her farm.
Married with children after the war, Shelby began a racing career that quickly rose to international acclaim. After rushing to the track for his early races wearing the same bib overalls he wore at his chicken farm, the look became his trademark. Sports Illustrated named him driver of the year in 1956, and Shelby won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959.
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Man I know we are all getting older, but I sure am seeing a lot of the people that influenced me in my youth, passing away. Shelby was one of them. Some people you just wish they would live forever.
Sorry y’all for the dupe post. I searched but spelled his name wrong.
Sad day. Rest In Peace Mr. Shelby.
I’ve never owned anything with the Shelby name on it but I’ve always wanted to... From a lifelong admirer, RIP Carrol.
Rest In Peace to a true champion and nice guy.
Condolences to Carroll Shelby’s family and friends.
There was a Shelby Lancer in our family for some time. Very nice car.
RIP one of my heroes. I trust you and Enzo will have much to talk about!
RIP, Mr Shelby.
Looks like chili one of the next few days.
One of the next icons to pass will probably be Craig Breedlove. Has to be well into his 70’s and last I heard not in the best of health.
The launch was difficult; it was a very careful balance between a spinout and a stall.
I stalled it the first 3 times. Adding to the embarassment was the fact that it had a pneumatic starter, so you had to wait for the compressor to build up enough pressure to start the engine.
On the 4th try, I decided to just let it go and try to steer it while feathering the throttle on takeoff.
All I can say is Holy Crap! The shift to 2nd gear was seconds later at about 70 MPH.
I'm still tempted to build a replica (heck, I have most of the powertrain pieces stashed around the garage).
The are a lot of low mileage used Shelby GT500's on the market. Two years ago, I purchased a 2008 with 1800 miles on the odometer.
RIP Mr. Shelby. May your compression ratio always be high.
The legacy lives on.
My husband restores Shelbys professionally.
Met Mr.Shelby several times at the SAAC Conventions.
Above website has pics of one of our cars, a 68 GT-500. Our other one is a 69 GT-350 black in driver condition. Orange one is not being driven yet, but is retired from judged shows. Went to the Chicago invitational last November. Pic at website of that recent show.
I hate you. :)
Hey, small world. My husband got into special paint cars when we found the orange Shelby at the SAAC convention in Charlotte,NC about 20 years ago. At the time we had a red KR, which I think was supposed to be green from the factory. Anyway we sold the red KR, got the orange car and it needed a total restoration. Took him 16 years to restore it. But it’s won 3 major titles so it was worth the effort. We have not taken it for a spin. Trailer Queen. The other one we have was bought in driver condition and gets taken to the hardware store or grocery store. It’s less of a beacon for attention, which is nice. The old red one we had was like having a car show everywhere we went. I loved driving that one around. The manual shift was a blast.
The husband liked Mustangs his entire life,and we had a 66 coupe when were were in college. We had a nice 72 gold Mustang Grande that I loved. Then after we were married he said he wanted a Shelby and I had no idea what it was. 25 years later, he’s learned so much that he gets calls from all over for info, and to restore cars. The Shelby Registry has his contributions in it, in the 1968 section. He’s friends with the president of SAAC and the other 68 specialists. We’ve met many wonderful people over the years through this hobby. We have Mr.Shelby to thank for that.
When he gets time, we need to restore the black one. The paint is showing it’s age. We have a great paint man, he did the paint on the orange one. It’s a beautiful paint job.
He’s another of the close friends we’ve made in this hobby.
The Shelby forums are full of comments about the passing of Shelby.
Yesterday afternoon a friend in New York called and told us the news. He was really sad. He took his Shelby out for a spin in honor of Carroll.
Here's a shot of Lee Iacocca, father of the Mustang, along with Carroll Shelby back in the day. In those days, Mrs. shove-it worked in the PR dept. at Ford HQ in Dearborn where she typed the speeches for Iacocca and other Ford execs.
The first SAAC convention we went to around 1988 was in Dearborn and we stayed at the Hyatt, if I remember correctly we could see the Ford plant sign from there or it was on the way to the Hyatt.
I still have a cousin who works at the Crete,IL Ford Plant. He’s been there for 40 years.
I will show Mr.ConservativeParty that picture. It’s probably not one he’s ever seen before.
The world wants to know what on earth you do to support that Shelby habit (don't even think about telling us).
Well we did it the old fashioned way.
Bought our first one unfinished, and it took Mr.ConservativeParty about 5 years to do the work. Then we found another unfinished one (orange one) with the wrong engine (a 427). The owner agreed to take out the expensive but wrong engine and sell us the rest. Took 16 years to restore that one. Meanwhile sold the first one (red). Bought a black daily driver (well not daily, but in driver condition). Mr.ConservativeParty saved a ton of money doing all but paint himself. Along the way, over 25 years, he learned a lot and won the big national shows and now he has more restoration customers than you can shake a stick at. He does have a “real job” but the Shelby hobby is very important to him. Not a bad investment either, as it turned out.
PS- back in 1988 our first Shelby was purchased for 11,000 dollars. How about that. Those were the good old days. Second one was a mere 16,000 in it’s unrestored state. That was bought about 20 years ago. Best investments we ever made. They just get more rare as the years go by and a few more get wrecked or rust away, especially the factory orange car which is one of about 6 made that year. Met a whole lotta nice folks over the years too. That is priceless.
Loved the man. Loved his muscle cars. RIP Mr. Shelby. Hope the family can find peace in his passing.