Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
May 11, 2012
Automotive legend Caroll Shelby passed away last night at the age of 89 after a lengthy illness at the Baylor Hospital in Dallas, TX.
Shelby's shadow extended nearly across automotive world. In the fifties, Shelby was a highly accomplished racer. He would win three U.S. sports-car championships, the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, and set land speed records at Bonneville. However, a heart condition in 1960 would cause him to stop racing.
But that didn't stop Shelby. During the sixties, Shelby would be known for building the Shelby Cobra and his partnership with Ford, building the Shelby GT350 and GT500 Mustangs. Racing would still be a big part of Shelby's work as Daytona Cobras and GT40s terrorized Ferrari, Porsche, and Jaguar on their own turf.
In the eighties, Shelby would hook up with Chrysler to produce a number of specialty cars and trucks, including the Onmi GLH and GLHS.
Beyond that Shelby grew his business into a "skunkworks," doing research and development for auto companies. In 2005, Shelby and Ford buried the hatchet from a disagreement in the seventies and would work together once again building high performance Mustangs.
However it wasn't always good times for Shelby. He made some shaky business deals, held grudges, and would go to court over trademarks with Ford, AC Cars (Ironically) and Cobra replicar manufacturers Superformance International, Inc. and Factory Five, Inc.
But the most inspirational and remarkable fact about Caroll Shelby's life was how hard he worked with his heart condition. That would land him with a heart transplant in 1990. Six years after the heart, he would get a kidney transplant from his son.
In a statement released today by Shelby American, President Joe Conway said,
“We are all deeply saddened, and feel a tremendous sense of loss for Carroll’s family, ourselves and the entire automotive industry. There has been no one like Carroll Shelby and never will be. However, we promised Carroll we would carry on, and he put the team, the products and the vision in place to do just that.”