Following on the heels of the recent deaths of Porsche designers Vale Porsche (911) and Anatole Lapine (928) comes the news that driver/team manager/designer Carroll Shelby passed away at 89. Shelby put together the AC Cobra and Mustang Cobra. The Mustang Cobra is still being produced today. The AC super snake was produced for the masses and for racing.
The race team. The car is just beautiful, it was then and it is now. Since it stopped production almost every kit car producer in the world has had their version of the Cobra in its lineup. Under license I am sure. If you owned an original you could take the money to the bank. Of the Super Snakes there were only two built and there is only one left. It sold at auction in January 2007 for $5.5 million. Yes, I said $5.5 million! The second one was bought by Bill Cosby, the actor/comedian, and so the story goes he returned the car after one day because it scared the hell out of him. The person who ended up buying it died in a road accident.
Twenty-five years ago when it was time to retire he said 'no way.' He had things to do, cars to produce, personal appearances to make, license his products. Not bad for a former chicken farmer.
I first became aware of Shelby in 1959 when he (with Roy Salvadori) won the 24 hours of Le Mans. At that time my favorite driver was Sterling Moss who would be driving for Aston Martin. They had three cars and Shelby/Salvadori had one. Moss had engine trouble and had to drop out with Shelby/Salvadori going on to win. In those days I could only read about it, but with the internet I looked it up on YouTube. In those days they were still doing the Le Mann start with the drivers running to the cars. Pit stops were much longer than they are today. Very few drivers wore uniforms, most raced in blue jeans and t-shirts and Shelby wore his chicken-farmer overalls. They all wore helmets, but they had only been required a few short years. The picture above was at the 1966 Seabring 12 Hour with Dan Gurney. Dan was another driver/designer and is still around designing $100,000 motorcycles.
photo credit #1: Seth Wenig
photo credit #2: © 2012 Ford Motor Company
photo credit #3: John Collier
photo credit #4: © 2012 Ford Motor Company