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Sean Phillips

The Iconic Man: Carroll Hall Shelby, 1923-2012

By May 12, 2012

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Photo © Shelby American

Racing and tuning legend Carroll Shelby passed away yesterday at the age of 89.

Others will eulogize Mr. Shelby and review the details of a well-lived life much better than I can. I will only say a few things from a personal perspective.

Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas

I loved Carroll Shelby's vision:

To me, above all else, Shelby had a vision of what a hardcore muscle car should look like that may never be equaled. His designs incorporated a brooding, big-shouldered, air-scooped aggressiveness that touched something deep in the souls of auto fans, as if he had reached into another dimension and come back with the Aristotelian essence of "car." Sitting next to a GT500, even the mighty Corvette Stingray ends up looking more like a delicate flower than a hot rod.

I loved Carroll Shelby's engines:

Few sounds in the auto world are more pleasurable than the deep burble of a Shelby engine at idle; like a giant at rest, bespeaking power and to spare. One of Shelby's first triumphs as a builder came when he put a "monstrous" 7-liter V-8 into Ford's tiny GT40 race car and proceeded to take the three top spots at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, destroying Ferrari's previous domination of the event. Even as late as last month, Shelby continued to shock the auto world by releasing a Mustang that put 1,100 horsepower to the pavement.

Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas

I loved Carroll Shelby's zest for life:

Carroll Shelby loved cars (and chili) and he was able to indulge that love up until his last days. At 89 Shelby was still scheduled to appear at the NY Auto Show to debut his newest Mustang designs, and was only prevented from doing so by the pneumonia that led to his last hospital stay. Shelby passed away still doing what he loved on his own terms. More than that, few men can ask.

RIP, Carroll Shelby. You will be missed.

Photo © Ford Motor Co.
August 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm
(1) jeremy says:

I love you and your smoking cars Mr. Shelby. There is no replacing a brilliant racing mind such as yours with character to boot. The best and brightest of America is quickly dying off.

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