It’s rare that the average person knows the name of the guy who designed their car. It’s even more rare for a man to become even more famous than the era-defining car that he designed. There is no way to contest it, Carroll Shelby is an American icon and is the creator of one of the most infamous American muscle cars ever made; the car that made an appearance in movies like Gone in Sixty Seconds, Transformers, and a number of the incredibly corny Fast and Furious movies. It’s the Shelby Mustang.
Carroll Shelby was known for his no-bullshit attitude and for taking on the challenge of making the fastest and best looking cars in the world. An outspoken man from East Texas, Shelby competed with car companies from around the world including Ferrari, who bitterly defeated him in the 1964 World Sports Car Championship. Shelby’s famous response was “next year, Ferrari’s ass is mine!”
That’s that preverbal middle finger that we seem to love so much. It’s a quality that Shelby put into his cars. The first Shelby Mustang was built as a higher performance Ford Mustang by Shelby American from 1965-67; the car was then built under Shelby Automotive from ’68-’70 and it wasn’t until 2007 that the Shelby name was put back on a mustang. The ’65 GT 350 was not built for comfort. It’s detentions were pure racing specs that adhered to the SCCA racing regulations. Unlike the Nova, this was not a grocery getter, and it certainly wasn’t your father’s vehicle.
1967 was the year that Shelby Cobra GT 500 was introduced along side its kid brother the Shelby Cobra GT 350. In ’68 the letters KR were modestly added at the end of the name representing the words “King of the Road”. And it was. This car was equipped with Ford’s new 428 Cobra Jet engine, an engine that ford referred to as its “bread and butter”.
Arguably, one of the most remarkable things that the mustang is that it still exists. Not only does it still exist, but it’s still turning heads as proven at the 2012 New York International Auto Show where Shelby Automotive announced the Shelby 1000, a car that will cost between $150,000 and $200,000. Carroll Shelby passed away in May of 2012 at the age of 89. If he couldn’t live forever, he certainly designed and created something that will.