Carroll Shelby: 1923 – 2012

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande

Carroll Shelby, the automotive legend, died last night at age 89 because of medical complications.

Shelby recently released a statement through Facebook commenting on his health. In it, he addressed concerns about his recent hospital stints, saying he had been battling pneumonia but was comfortable and in good hands. Shelby died in Baylor Hospital last night, presumably of complications stemming from that illness, though official word has yet to be released.

Known best, perhaps even to this day, for his iconic AC Cobras, Carroll Shelby always loved going fast. Born in Leesburg, Texas, in his early days he was known to take his father’s Willy’s to its very reachable limits on a regular basis.

The boy who loved speed, as many know, would make one of the most legendary marks on the auto industry to date. He would go on to a career that included being a race car driver in the ’50s, ultimately winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Maserati in 1959 — his last year.

In the same year, Carroll Shelby first got a license to import the AC Ace cars from Britain which would serve as the body for his soon-to-be-legendary AC Cobra. His formula was simple and potent: pull the straight-six Bristol engine out and replace it with a Ford 260 V8. The result and subsequent versions were electrifying: A light, powerful sports car that was incredibly fast.

It wasn’t long before Carroll Shelby started tuning cars for major auto manufacturers like Dodge with the Viper and most notably the Ford Mustang. Still in production today, the Shelby GT Mustangs continue to gather praise. Most recently the GT500’s 662-hp 5.8-liter V8. With the most powerful production V8 to date, the current GT500 carries on the legendary tradition surrounding his name.

Plagued by health problems that started in his youth and continued through his life including a donated kidney from one of his sons and a heart transplant. Despite those setbacks, Carroll Shelby managed to live an unparalleled life that won’t be soon forgotten. May he rest in peace.

Luke Vandezande
Luke Vandezande

Luke is an energetic automotive journalist who spends his time covering industry news and crawling the internet for the latest breaking story. When he isn't in the office, Luke can be found obsessively browsing used car listings, drinking scotch at his favorite bar and dreaming of what to drive next, though the list grows a lot faster than his bank account. He's always on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> looking for a good car conversation. Find Luke on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> and <A title="Luke on Google+" href="">Google+</A>.

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  • Don Don on May 11, 2012

    Sad. Woulda, shoulda but unfortunately couldn' t meet the automotive legend behind my favorite cars. RIP. I feel for his family and friends. Sad indeed. I loved his new Shelby GT350.