May 11, 2012
AUTO LEGEND CARROLL SHELBY, FATHER OF COBRA, DIES: “Carroll Hall Shelby, the Texan who created the famous Shelby Cobra and uncounted other high-performance machines that turned the auto world on its ear, and made it a whole lot more fun for 50 years, died in Dallas Thursday night at age 89. He had been hospitalized for pneumonia,” USA Today reports.
UPDATE: Via the vacationing, yet still-omnipresent Glenn Reynolds, Autoweek’s obit for Shelby:
Shelby is believed to be the only person to win Le Mans as a driver (with Aston Martin), a manufacturer (class victory with the Cobra Daytona coupe) and team owner (Ford’s GTs).
Not everything this Texan touched turned to trophies, but his solid record of achievement, plus his talents as a promoter, made his name an icon of high-performance worldwide.
In the 1980s, he parlayed all of this into a venture with Chrysler that produced a number of specialty cars and trucks, including the Shelby Can-Am one-design racer, all dedicated to a biggest-bang-for-the-buck philosophy.
Beyond that, Shelby grew his business into a multifaceted “skunkworks,” doing advanced research and development for other clients. From 2005, these included Ford, with whom Shelby patched up an old grievance so that they could partner on a fresh range of super-hot Shelby Mustangs. He also resumed production of old-style Cobras and, less successfully, launched a newer sports model dubbed the Shelby Series 1.
Yet, impressive as his accomplishments were on the automotive scene, that was only one of a bewildering set of arenas through which he moved with equal facility: ranching, real estate development, hotels, food production, aircraft dealing. In every field that caught his interest, he was able to exercise a powerful combination of intelligence, curiosity, vision, timing, guile, cunning and charm, plus what he described as “the work ethic.”
Not the least of Shelby’s secrets was an easy, natural manner, a flashing grin and an almost old-fashioned sense of courtesy, which quickly made firm friendships and networks of important contacts.
Read the whole thing.™