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PostSubject: Carroll Shelby dead at 89   Fri May 11, 2012 9:25 pm

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Carroll Hall Shelby, the Texan who created the famous Shelby Cobra and uncounted other high-performance machines that have enlivened -- and in some cases revolutionized -- the auto world for 50 years, died Thursday night in Dallas at age 89. He had been hospitalized for pneumonia and his death was announced today by his company, Shelby American.

Shelby's famous pedal-to-the metal cars

Shelby's latest: The 1,100-horsepower Mustang

While perhaps best known now for his Shelby Cobras and Shelby Mustangs, his auto foothold came as a notable race driver. And among his enduring, endearing accomplishments as a car builder, Shelby broke the class barrier that had made European brands the elite in road racing.

Representing the proletariat, his innovative, now-legendary Cobras with their "crude" Ford push-rod V-8s gave the high-revving, overhead-camshaft Porsches and Ferraris a sour taste by winning the Grand Touring World Championship in 1965.

It was a prelude to a bigger win: the famous 1-2-3 finish in 1966 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by Ford GT40 Mark II's he engineered, breaking Ferrari's domination.

Shelby's death was taken hard by the many auto industry veterans and auto buffs who knew him personally, or only via his cars.

"He was a great friend. We did some good things together," Lee Iacocca said Friday, lamenting the passing of his pal, and neighbor in Los Angeles.

Iacocca was president of Ford Motor when Shelby pitched the idea in 1962 of a Ford V-8 in a petite British A.C. Cars roadster. That was the original Shelby Cobra and the first of many Shelby-branded performance road cars, mainly Mustangs.

Shelby worked with Iacocca when the latter moved to Chrysler, even breathing some respectability into the little Dodge Omni compact via turbocharger and the in-your-face name GLH -- for Goes Like Hell.

Shelby was born in Leesburg, Texas, Jan. 11, 1923. He affected the aw-shucks demeanor of the chicken farmer he once was, and said, "I never made a damn dime until I started doing what I wanted."

What he wanted was, power for the people, automotively speaking. "I love horsepower," he said more than once.

Beyond his efforts in the small world of hot-rodding, Shelby broadly influenced how Detroit automakers thought about high-performance -- not just power, but weigh and handling.

Before Shelby, Detroit's approach had been ever-bigger engines in big cars — for instance, the storied 409 cu. in. Chevrolet of the Beach Boys song. It replaced the 348 Chevy, which was replacing the 283, in those big Impalas and Bel Airs.

Shelby also proved in his life that hard work and bit of guile can make a hero.

He jumped from chicken-raising — his fowl all died of a disease one year — and to full-time auto racing, which he'd been doing on the side, in the 1950s. Initially, he drove in the work overalls that he used as a farmer.

He was a successful driver and won Le Mans in 1959 co-driving an Aston Martin. He finished his driving career the next year in a Maserati 250F Grand Prix car previously driven by renowned racer Juan Manuel Fangio. He had his first heart problems that year, quit racing, moved to California and opened a tire store.

But his greatest racing fame came as car builder and team manager, revamping a losing Ford race car — the GT40, so-called because it was 40 inches tall — on short notice to beat dominant Ferrari at Le Mans.

He did it the way he always has: Big engine, little car. The GT had been powered by a high-revving Ford 289 cu.-in. V-8, but Shelby yanked it for a monstrous 7-liter V-8. It proved more reliable for European endurance races.

And it let Shelby fulfill a promise — a threat, really — by Henry Ford II, who ran Ford Motor at the time. He had tried to buy Ferrari, but got a dismissive rejection from Enzo Ferrari.

Enraged and offended, Henry Ford vowed to "kick Ferrari's ass," and Shelby was his big boot at Le Mans. The next year, though, at the Daytona race, the Ford racers broke and Ferrari scored a "take that" one-two-three photo opp at a U.S. race.

Still, Shelby was a hero and a legend by then.

The litany of significant cars he created is long, running from the original 1962 Cobra through a sojourn at Chrysler that included work on the Viper, and a stint with GM via a failed Oldsmobile-powered car, then back to Ford. He was involved with development of Ford's GT 500 Mustang, the 2013 version of which is certified by the Society of Automotive Engineers as the most-powerful regular-production car in the world.

In the Detroit Free Press: Shelby taught American car makers how to compete

Some years ago, Iacocca happened upon on Shelby and a journalist dining in a Los Angeles restaurant. Iacocca plopped down at the table and he and Shelby started telling stories. Among them, how the two began their business relationship.

Iacocca said Shelby pestered him so persistently for money to build the original Cobra that "I finally gave him the money to get him out of my office."

Much later, in 2010, Shelby was facing two challenges: Mortality, and the changing nature of the go-fast auto business. At the time, he was taking 25 pills a day, tooling around in a motorized wheelchair and talking about passing the torch at his Shelby American company.

He noted that extracting the most performance from an engine had become an exercise in computer programming, not tinkering. Though Shelby was tech-savvy, he said, "I don't have the power to fight all the problems that I used to anymore."

He added, "I've had a good run. I've built a lot of things that work and a lot of things that didn't work." He estimated that of the 165 car projects he tried, seven or eight turned a profit. Big enough, it seems, to keep the enterprise rolling.

Along the way he came up with a recipe for a mean bowl of chili and sparked an annual beat-this chili cook-off in Texas. He even ventured into fashion watches.

And he began his car building with subterfuge. Hoping to give the impression he was producing a lot of the original 1962 Cobras, he kept repainting the two he had built so that car magazines would show them in a variety of colors.

And he had to fend off his friend Robert E. Petersen, founder of Motor Trend and Hot Rod magazines, for the affections of a woman early in his driving career.

Petersen said he was merely taking advantage of an opportunity. Shelby recalled it as a work of infamy: "He'd tell her, 'You don't want to go around with a chicken farmer. And he'll lose (races), anyway'."

Rumors began circulating about a health problem when Shelby failed to appear as scheduled at the New York Auto Show in April to promote his new 950-horsepower Shelby 1000 and the 1,100-hp Shelby 1000 S/C.

But Shelby, ever modern and in good humor, then published an update on his Facebook page to say, in the vein of Mark Twain's "reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," that he had been hospitalized for pneumonia, but was "resting comfortably with family and working on getting better."
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PostSubject: Re: Carroll Shelby dead at 89   Fri May 11, 2012 9:37 pm

I mean what can you say except the man was a freakin legend and he will never be forgotten. At least with all his quickness and racing he made it to 89. How many others can say that?

Thanks for everything, Shelby, you will be missed.
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PostSubject: Re: Carroll Shelby dead at 89   Fri May 11, 2012 10:05 pm

R.I.P Cry
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PostSubject: Re: Carroll Shelby dead at 89   Sat May 12, 2012 7:50 am

bummer. Depressed
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PostSubject: Re: Carroll Shelby dead at 89   Sat May 12, 2012 10:09 am

Agreed. Very sad day. He will never be forgotten. One thing most people didn't know was that he was one of the longest living heart transplant recipients. He also had a kidney replacement. He was a tough old bird!

I guess all of the Shelby owners just got an increase in value on their vehicles.....especially the classics!

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PostSubject: Re: Carroll Shelby dead at 89   Sat May 12, 2012 2:52 pm

wow hard to believe. i've heard so many people say that for an 80+ year old man, he drove like he was 20 lol. He will always be a legend.
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