Carroll Hall Shelby, the man who created the famous Shelby Cobra sports car and injected testosterone into Ford’s Mustang and Chrysler’s Viper, has died today. 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.
Edsel Ford II, a member of the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of Henry Ford, called Shelby an innovator and performance-vehicle legend who was “an incredible partner and close friend for more than 60 years.”
“We are all deeply saddened, and feel a tremendous sense of loss for Carroll’s family, ourselves and the entire automotive industry,” said Joe Conway, president of Carroll Shelby International, Inc. and board member.
“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.”
Shelby first gained fame in the automotive world by winning France’s grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race with a teammate in 1959.
Soon after his win at Le Mans, he 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.
Carroll Shelby was truly a legendary figure, and he will absolutely be missed.