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Friday
May112012

Auto Legend Carroll Shelby Dies at the Age of 89

A loss for the automobile world today.

Carroll Shelby, the legendary car designer and champion auto racer who built the well-known  Shelby Cobra sports car and injected horse-power into Ford's Mustang and Chrysler's Viper, has died. He was 89.

Shelby was one of the nation's longest-living heart transplant recipients, having received a heart on June 7, 1990, from a 34-year-old man who died of an aneurism. Shelby also received a kidney transplant in 1996 from his son, Michael.

The 1992 inductee into the Automobile Hall of Fame had homes in Los Angeles and his native east Texas.

Shelby first made his name behind the wheel of a car, winning France's grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race with teammate Ray Salvadori in 1959.

He eventually gave up racing and turned his attention to designing high-powered "muscle cars" that eventually became the Shelby Cobra and the Mustang Shelby GT500.

The Cobra, which used Ford engines and a British sport car chassis, was the fastest production model ever made when it was displayed at the New York Auto Show in 1962.

In 2007, an 800-horsepower model of the Cobra made in 1966, once Shelby's personal car, sold for $5.5 million at auction, a record for an American car.

"It's a special car. It would do just over three seconds to 60 (mph), 40 years ago," Shelby told the crowd before the sale, held in Scottsdale, Ariz.

It was Lee Iacocca, then head of Ford Motor Co., who had assigned Shelby the task of designing a fastback model of Ford's Mustang that could compete against the Corvette for young male buyers.

That car and the Shelby Cobra made his name a household word in the 1960s.

Many people don't know that Shelby also inaugurated the World Chili Cookoff competition and he began marketing Carroll Shelby Original Texas Chili.

In recent years, Shelby worked as a technical adviser on the Ford GT project and designed the Shelby Series 1 two-seat muscle car, a 21st century clone of his 1965 Cobra.

Shelby is survived by his three children, Patrick, Michael and Sharon; his sister Anne Shelby Ellison; and his wife, Cleo.

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Reader Comments (1)

Thank you Carroll Shelby, for all you've done to excite the automotive world into what we see today, you will be missed, R.I.P my good man.

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnand

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