Carroll Hall Shelby, best known now for his high-performance Shelby Cobras and Shelby Mustangs, has died at age 89, USA Today reports.
The Texan had been in a Dallas hospital suffering from pneumonia, the story says.
Recounting the Shelby’s life, the article notes, “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.”
The article adds, “What Shelby wanted was, power for the people, automotively speaking. ‘I love horsepower,’ he said more than once.”
“Soon after Lee A. Iacocca of Ford introduced the Mustang in 1964, he asked Shelby to help create a high-performance version for racing,” notes The New York Times’ obituary about Shelby. “In January 1965, the first Shelby Mustang, the GT350, made its debut. Shelby also developed the Ford GT40, and the Shelby GT500 and GT500KR (the KR stood for King of the Road).
Shelby’s Cobra was forever immortalized in pop music in 1964 when the Rip Chords, a group sounding like The Beach Boys, released this hit, “Hey Little Cobra”: