Another Automotive Legend, Carroll Shelby, Dies at Age 89

Carroll Shelby, an international automotive legend who built one of the most iconic sports cars ever and became a world-champion racer died Thursday at the age of 89 after a lengthy illness.

Sidelined from race driving by his health in 1960, Shelby turned to building race cars. His masterpiece came from importing a British roadster, the AC Ace, then replacing its undersized engine with a Ford V-8, eventually winning the international Grand Touring championships in 1965 over arch rival Enzo Ferrari. Shelby would later spend decade’s unsuccessfully suing builders who copied the body shell and chassis -- one of many business feuds Shelby pursued -- until a U.S. court found that Shelby did not own a copyright on the design.

Knowing how Shelby could beat Enzo Ferrari, Henry Ford II recruited Shelby to lead Ford’s efforts to beat Ferrari at LeMans with the GT40, eventually winning the race four years in a row between 1966 and 1969. Ford also asked Shelby to help develop a hot-rod edition of the Ford Mustang in 1965, a deal which produced the GT350 and the GT500, cars still battled over by collectors today. After a cutback in performance cars during the early '70s, Shelby had to turn to other businesses, and didn't revive his own operation until a partnership with Dodge in 1982.

Throughout his career, Shelby kept a host of other businesses alive, from deodorants to a chili festival. He also launched the Carroll Shelby Foundation to aid children in need of organ transplants. And even in his later years, after a revival with Ford and his own company, Shelby kept to the same answer when asked what was his favorite car to ever bear his name: "The next one."

He will certainly be missed.

God Speed my Friend, God Speed…

 

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