He was a real live, in the flesh legend of his time and one who will live on forever when we discuss the great visionaries of the auto industry. He was a walking, talking good old boy from Leesburg, Texas who made his mark as a real life Steve McQueen, or maybe James Dean, or even Paul Newman- he was that big and that brash.
He was ‘Ol Shel, the infamous Carroll Shelby, a chicken farmer turned drag racer turned road racer who won his very first race in 1952 in an MG-TC by stomping a bunch of guys who were driving the infinitely superior Jaguar XK120. He was that good.
But he was an even better visionary and designer. You may have heard of some of the cars he was instrumental in bringing to life. There was the CX 2000, more commonly known as the Cobra, which first appeared in 1962 at the New York Auto Show and immediately became a must-have performance car. There was alsothe Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT500, two Ford Mustang models with the Shelby imprint all over them. That's not even mentioning his Dodge Charger imprints from the mid-‘80s. All Shelby’s, all awesome.
Now the legend’s own personal collection is up for auction, and we thought it was high time we took a look at the 22 cars Carroll Shelby called his own.
22 1966 Shelby GT350 Convertible
Here we have the very first of Shelby’s own designs. This car is the original - and totally legendary - first generation of Shelby Mustangs. The 1965-66 GT350s were the first generation of Shelby performance cars and the ones that made him a household name. (At least among performance and muscle car aficionados, that is.)
This was also the model that inspired Shelby to come up with the moniker “Cobra.” He said that the name came to him in a dream. He woke up, jotted it down, and when he saw it the next morning, he knew that he had found the perfect designation for his car. Can you imagine owning the classic GT350 that the designer himself once owned? Neither can I. What I can imagine is that this thing is going to end up in a full-out bidding war.
21 1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible
Shelby sure did like his convertibles. I suppose that makes sense, seeing as we’re talking about a guy who began his design career creating open top racers. Not that a boat like this car could ever be considered a performance car.
This ’67 Lincoln Continental was an absolute gem of a car, produced at a time when the Continental was the flagship of the Lincoln line and also, not so coincidentally, the only nameplate Lincoln was producing (that was from 1961 to 1976, for those keeping score at home).
There doesn’t seem to be any real reason why Shelby chose to own this car - maybe someone at Lincoln, a division of Ford after all, gave it to him - but that doesn’t stop it from having an absolutely classic look and backstory.
20 1968 Shelby GT350
Back to Shelby’s own models we go. It’s interesting to note that, while all of Shelby’s GT350s and GT 500s were Mustangs that he turned into high performance cars, every single one of them - from 1965 to 1968 - was built by Shelby American, his own company that he founded in Venice, California in 1962, after quitting his racing career (due to heart problems) and deciding owning a Firestone racing tire shop wasn’t quite exciting enough.
I don’t know about you but I would settle for a Shelby Mustang from anywhere it was made and I wouldn’t be too particular about the year either.
He moved Shelby American to Michigan in 1968 to be closer to Ford, with whom he had a strong, symbiotic relationship, and this ’68 GT350 is from the floor of his Michigan factory.
19 1927 Ford Model T
Shelby’s private collection goes to the auction block this June. Today we’ll be taking a look at ‘Ol Shel’s assortment of vehicles in chronological order, from the very oldest one he owned to the most recent cars he drove, with a whole boatload of awesome autos in between.
It should probably come as no surprise that one American legend would keep another American legend in his private collection. Here we see Carroll Shelby’s 1927 Model T, the original Ford and the car that created the automobile industry as we know it today. Did you know that the Model T started its career as an $800 car and got cheaper every year it was in production? Today, Shelby's personal model will probably sell for a lot more.
18 1931 Ford Model A
The auctioning off of Shelby’s collection is being administered by Bonham’s auction house out of Greenwich, Connecticut. Bonham’s is a premier auction house where you can find anything from armor to automobiles.
The Shelby auction includes everything he owned and acquired up until his death in 2012, and is probably going to fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially from collectors who want to own the 1931 Model A.
What if I told you that there were 4,858,644 Model A units sold between 1927 and 1932, but only one of them belonged to Shelby?
The Model A was the long awaited sequel/replacement car for the long-lasting Model T and was another huge feather in Henry Ford’s pocket.
17 1935 Chrysler Airflow Sedan
Here's our first non-Ford to grace the list. If you want to check out the full listing of Shelby’s collection by Bonham’s, just click here and you can go mad with lust and envy over the grouping.
Then again, maybe you don’t have to go mad with your unrequited desire to own a vehicle that ‘Ol Shel once owned. You see, this auction is actually a “no-reserve” (or “without reserve”) opportunity to grab that car you’ve always wanted- more on that in a minute. Shelby had a long and productive partnership with Chrysler after a similar partnership with Ford, so it’s no surprise that he would have owned one of the most classic Chryslers of all time, the awesome Airflow. This was the very first American car to go for that “streamlined” look everyone still wants today.
16 1955 DeSoto Hard Top
A “no-reserve” auction can also be known as an “absolute auction.” That’s because the items in that auction lot are going to be sold no matter what the highest bid is. In reserve auctions the seller can stipulate that the sale not go through if the highest bid still isn’t high enough to satisfy them. That’s not the case here- if someone bids on a car in the Shelby collection for $5,000, like his ’55 DeSoto hardtop, and nobody tops that sort of lowball bid, someone may find themselves walking away with a piece of history for very little cash.
That’s not going to happen, of course, which is why Bonham’s is OK with a no-reserve event. People are going to go crazy trying to outbid one another for each and every one of these automobiles.
15 1969 Shelby GT 500, Part 1
The 1969 production year found Shelby still designing performance Mustangs, but doing so entirely for Ford, who were then in complete control of the project. Shelby American was a victim of this “merger,” but this arrangement also allowed Shelby to come up with some pretty awesome cars at a quick pace.
Enter the ’69 GT 500, which was a rip-roaring update to the original ’67 GT 500. In fact, the ’69 model was very much Ford’s baby and Shelby didn’t have quite as much input as he had on previous models.
This particular car was owned by Jackie Cooper Jr. before it came under Carroll Shelby’s wing.
Cooper, of course, was famously a member of the Our Gang group of child actors. Whether or not Cooper being the previous owner of a Shelby owned by the Shelby makes any difference is up for debate, but there you have it.
14 1969 Shelby GT 500, Part 2
Apparently good ‘Ol Shel really liked the ’69 GT 500, even if he didn’t contribute as much to its design as he had with earlier models, because here we find another one from his collection.
The Cobra nameplate was dropped from this model, which still makes me personally sad. When you hear “Cobra” you know you’re talking about a rare and different species of car.
What doesn’t make me sad is the 351 cubic-inch V8 this car hauled around. That last bit makes me very happy, although I’m sure I’d be happier if I was actually sitting in the driver’s seat of this car. This was the last year that Shelby was under full contract with Ford.
13 1982 Shelby Charger (Prototype)
As other outlets have noted when discussing this incredible auction, it’s not just the Cobras and Mustang GT 500s that make Carroll Shelby such an important figure. After his relationship with Ford ended in 1969-70, Carroll Shelby didn’t crawl into a hole never to return. Nope. He eventually headed on over to Chrysler, where he worked on the very first Dodge Charger.
From cars like this we eventually got the Shelby Charger, a worthy new performance car built by a master.
We also got some weird little nameplates like the GLH Omni out of this partnership. As everyone knows (or should, if they don’t already) the GLH in that model’s name stands for “Goes Like Hell.” Yup, that’s Shelby all the way.
12 1983 De Tomaso Pantera
The De Tomaso car company of Argentina was a company very much after Carroll Shelby’s own heart. That is gonna happen when you put a guy who designs tuners and performance racers next to another company that designs tuners and performance racers.
This ’83 Pantera (Italian for “Panther”) was one of only 7,000 cars under that nameplate that De Tomaso produced in a span of slightly over 20 years (1971-1992). I don’t mean 7,000 cars a year, I mean 7,000 cars total.
Talk about a high concept company! No wonder Shelby liked De Tomasos so much. There was also the fact that the very first Pantera boasted a Ford 351 (5.8 L) V8 engine that produced 330 horses. All Panteras would stay with the Ford 351 engine until they stopped making the car.
11 1983 Dodge/Shelby Pickup Concept
While Shelby was earning his keep at Dodge (or driving them crazy - one and the same for a visionary like ‘Ol Shel) he also got involved in a little bit of pickup truck design. This was a new field for him, one that would eventually end in the wild Dodge/Shelby Dakota project that would see fruition in 1989.
Before that happened, we got this 1983 concept version of the classic Dodge Ram. Nobody seems certain as to why Shelby - a man known for high-performance tuners - was working on this monster of a truck, but the results are pretty stunning. Just look at this thing! this is a 35-year-old truck that wouldn’t look very far out of place today. I guess visionaries are always free to follow their instincts.
10 1987 De Tomaso GT5-S
We now return to the mighty De Tomaso automobile maker. OK, maybe they're not so mighty, but they certainly made fascinating cars and made a fan out of Carroll Shelby along the way.
The GT5-S was actually a rebrand of the Pantera, which we already know that Shelby absolutely loved. De Tomaso came out with it in 1985 and stopped production somewhere around 1989.
It’s hard to tell how many of these bad boys were made. after all, they are a limited edition of a limited edition, but there have been fewer than 200 registered in the US. Ever. The “s” in the name stands for “steel” because that’s what the car’s fenders and air dam were made out of. I know, not as exciting as Shelby’s own “GLH” series…
9 1987 Dodge CSX Serial #1
I bet you can’t guess what the acronym for this model number means. I’ll give you a hint: it’s used to represent this 1897 concept car from Shelby. OK, give up? The CSX was the “Carroll Shelby Experimental” vehicle based on the Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance, built by Shelby American.
It was a high-performance, highly-tuned, turbocharged monster. This particular one in Shelby’s collection is, shockingly, the first one ever built. The model was gone by 1989.
If you want to talk numbers, then this was truly a limited edition car. The ’87 model topped out at 750 units sold. The ’88 model sold just over 1,000 (all to the Thrifty car rental company of all places) and the ’89 model barely broke 500. It was pretty awesome though. In fact, Car and Driver magazine called it "a high-tech hot rod" and "a technological showcase."
8 1987 Shelby Charger GLH-S Serial #1
This ’87 Shelby Charger was the first generation of the GLH-S series. It was modeled after the Omni GLH. It was a pretty small production line which Shelby upgraded and Dodge sold in its showrooms.
What’s interesting about this car - apart from the fact that this very car owned by Shelby was the first ever ’87 GLHS produced - is that Shelby bought the last 1,000 Chargers that Dodge ever made when they discontinued the model and up-tuned them to the GLH-S standards. What is also interesting about this car are its initials. Remember what the GLH stood for in that ’82 Shelby Charger? Well, in classic Carroll Shelby fashionm the GLH-S actually stood for “Goes Like Hell-S’more.” You gotta love this guy.
7 1987 Dodge Shelby Lancer Serial #1
This, my friends, is a cool car. So cool, in fact, that one year after its inception by Shelby American, Dodge took back the nameplate, turned the car into the “Lancer Shelby,” and sold it for three years under that model name.
At first it was a concept car built by Shelby, who of course still has the very first one in his private collection.
It was another hot hatchback, modified by Shelby to try to compete with some of the smaller European coupes that were making inroads in the late ‘80s, like the BMW 3-series. Only 800 of these were made, and if I had to choose, I would take one of the 400 that came in leather and had a 10-speaker Pioneer CD system, the first of their kind in America.
6 1988 Dodge Shelby Dakota Prototype
Remember when I told you that Shelby had been messing around with the Dodge Ram in the early ‘80s? Well, by 1988 he decided that he had had enough with that big beast and set his sights on the smaller, more nimble pickup, the Dakota.
Make no mistake; this was still a classic Shelby performance car- just one that happened to be based upon a stock “performance” truck, the Dakota Sport. It was only produced in 1989 and featured a 5.2 liter V8. Sounds about right for a little truck!
Slightly under 1,500 units were produced- roughly 1,000 in white and 500 in red. Take a look at this thing and tell me you wouldn’t put a bid on it right here, right now.
5 1989 Dodge CSX VNT Serial #1
This was the last production year for that “Carroll Shelby Experimental” we were talking about a few entries back. It was also the year that only 500 of these bad boys were sold. But for Carroll Shelby himself there was no need to worry about the copies, because he had the factory original.
The VNT here stands for “variable-nozzle turbo” and that’s kind of important, as this was the first time a car ever used a variable lane turbo. To put this in perspective, the next time anyone used that technology was Porsche, in 2006.
Carroll Shelby, visionary, strikes again.
Finding another CSX with the original VNT system still in place (and not a conventional turbo of the time) would be quite an accomplishment, so this will be a hot item at the auction.
4 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 Continuation
Everyone - and we do mean everyone - is going to want a piece of this beauty, and it is probably going to be one of the most popular cars in the lot. After all, just look at this beauty. Wouldn’t you want to tool around in it?
A 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 is a heck of a lot of car. That ford 427 engine produces 485 horses and 185mph when the thing is at top speed. But enough about it's stats, let’s just go back to talking about its looks, shall we? I mean, I’m dying here. I think I need to start playing the lottery before June 3rd and hope I hit a big jackpot. This car is gonna fly out the door, make no mistake about it! I, for one, can’t wait to see what kind of dollar amount it fetches.
3 1999 Shelby Series 1 Serial #1
Here’s the deal with this car. It is the only car ever, in his entire illustrious career, which Carroll Shelby designed and built from the ground up. That is to say that this car is a full-on realization of Shelby’s own specs and schematics, not a modification or tuning of an existing vehicle.
Shelby may be most famous for tuning things like the Mustang and Charger, but this car right here is a true one of a kind, unique original.
Of course it’s also the first car produced of this model, but we’ve seen that story here already. It’s a 4 liter V8, 6-speed manual speed demon with 320hp and a top speed of around 175mph. It’s also a real fine looking car, isn’t it? Do you think Bonham’s would let me take it out for a quick “test drive?”
2 2008 Shelby GT 500 KR
Here we go again with awesome acronyms, this time on Ford's reboot of the original 1968 Shelby Mustang GT 500. The KR in the name of this model stands for “King of the Road” and just from the looks of it, I’m fine with that and I think you should be too.
The fifth-generation Mustang was first released in 2005 and lasted through 2014. An awful lot of homage was paid to Shelby’s classic Mustangs during this time and this might be one of the best.
There were slightly over 1,000 KRs built in 2008 and less than 700 in 2009, so it’s a true limited edition car. Perhaps all that we need to know about this monster is that it was factory tuned to 540hp. That’s just a little bit more than your average Mustang.
1 2011 Shelby GT 500 Super Snake
Here’s another modern take on a classic Shelby Mustang. This GT 500 Super Snake (because it’s a Cobra, get it?) is one hell of a performance car; an upgraded 2011 Ford GT 500 that Shelby American turned into a monster for only about $35K more in after-market tuning.
As Road and Track put it in their review of this car back in 2011, “during our recent visit to Shelby's Las Vegas headquarters we had the opportunity to wring out the newest 2011 Shelby GT 500 Super Snake. We last tested a Super Snake in December 2007. Back then, we managed a 0–60 run of 4.4 seconds, which is fast by any standard. Today, we did considerably better with a blistering 3.9-sec. run.” Umm, guys, that’s freaking fast. Where do I sign up?