SHELBY-AMERICAN GETS ITS START
Carroll Shelby formed Shelby-American in 1962 to build fast cars. He dropped Ford’s
new small block 289 V8 into an underpowered British sports car, the AC Ace, and created the Shelby AC Cobra. It never sold it big numbers, but it wasn’t meant to. It cemented Shelby’s reputation for building insanely fast, great-handling cars in the minds of the public...and Ford
. Next, they shoehorned a 427 Ford V8 under that aluminum hood. The result was the Cobra 427, one of the fastest-accelerating cars on earth at the time, but the heavy big-block weighted down the front axle which hurt handling. But who cared, right?
ABOVE: 1965 AC Cobra 289. Note the lack of side pipes and big fender flares. These were essentially British AC sports cars with a small block Ford V8 and 4-speed tranny dropped it. Only the most minimal strengthening was done.
BELOW:1967 AC Cobra 427. A totally re-engineered car, the Cobra 427 featured an all new tube chassis, racing suspension, and a monsterous Ford 427 big block under the hood. Everything was beefed up to accommodate the added power and weight. While very fast in straight-line acceleration, the heavy big block up front degraded the precision handling of the Cobra 289. Cobra 427s have big fender flares and side pipes.
ABOVE: 1965 Ford Mustang Cobra GT350. Carroll Shelby was soon working for Ford on it's production Mustangs. Called the GT350 because its Hi-Po 289 was supposed to produce 350hp, these cars were shipped partially assembled to Shelby's makeshift assembly shop in the LA International Airport, where his crew built them into Shelby Mustangs.
SHELBY-AMERICAN BUILDING HOT MUSTANGS
Before long, Shelby was building souped-up Mustangs
. Starting in 1965, Ford sent partially-assembled Mustangs
to Shelby’s shop at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), where he did his magic. The result was the GT350
271hp 289 was coaxed up to 306hp, it got a heavy duty tranny and posi-traction rear axle, along with enhanced handling and braking hardware. The result was nothing short of stupendous. But they were hand-built, which made them expensive, and prevented them from being built in volume. Only 562 cars were built in 1965. By 1967, Shelby was putting 428CJs in creating the GT500 and GT500KR
. Ford took over production in 1968 and began building them completely in their own factories. They continued to use the Shelby name under license and Shelby did some consulting work.
ABOVE: 1967 Ford Mustang Cobra GT350. '67 was the last year that Carroll Shelby actually laid hands on the Shelby Mustangs Fastback. By '68, there were being built completely by Ford under license to use the Shelby name.
BELOW: 1968 Ford Mustang CobraJet 428 Convertible. The first Ford-built Shelby Mustangs could be convertibles for the first time. This one has the massive and heavy 428CJ engine, making one of the quickest cars at the time.
SHELBY-AMERICAN IN MODERN TIMES
Shelby parted ways with Ford
by the early 70s. We his name next appeared on new cars, they were Chrysler Products
this time, as Ol' Shel worked is magic on their tired line of K-car derivatives. He turbocharged them, juiced up the looks and the handling and helped revive Chrysler when they needed it most. His next post was at Oldsmobile
where he designed a whole new car for them, the Shelby Series 1 from 1998-2005. It didn't sell too well. Then it was back to Ford, doing what he did best: hot rodding new Mustangs
. Carroll Shelby, the man, died in 2012, but his company, and his legend live on. They're still in Las Vegas NV, building about 50 Continuation Cobras per year, along with working on and/or modifying another 450 customer cars each year. You can visit the Shelby Factory in Las Vegas, we did it, and it's cool. And it's free! Check out our page on the SHELBY MUSEUM
BELOW: This is the kind of stuff Shelby-American is building today. This is a brand new Shelby GT500 Super Snake. This one has 750 horsepower. They're working on a 1,000-hp version now.
VISIT THE SHELBY MUSEUM
in Las Vegas NV
It's not really a museum. It's actually the shop where Shelby builds Continuation Cobras & wicked Mustangs, and you can tour it for free! No kidding! Great gift shop too. You've gotta' see this!
Shelby Mustangs YEAR-BY-YEAR
The first of the Shelby Mustangs, it came with a Shelby-ized Hi-Po 289 and 4-speed manual, but the focus was on the suspension. All were fastbacks.
The last Shelby Mustangs actually built my Carroll Shelby. By '68, Ford was building them on the line with civilian Mustangs.
The last Shelby Mustangs actually built my Carroll Shelby. The GT500 swapped the GT350's small block for a 428 Cobra Jet big block V8.
The monstrous 428 CobraJet big block under the elongated hood earned the GT500KR the nickname "King of the Hill".
Shelby walked away in '69 & no '70 Shelby Mustangs were built. '70s were built in '69 & reissued. The GT350 now had the 351 V8.
2006 Ford Shelby GT-H
Only 500 were built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original GT350H with appearance package & 25hp bump.
2007 Ford Shelby GT
A limited run of 6,000 were built, more or less to the same specs as the GT-H, without Hertz gold trim. Available in '07 & '08 only, in white or black with silver stripe.
2008 GT500 Super Snake
Shelby in name only, Ford stuffed in a 540hp supercharged 5.4L V8 & let 'er rip!!
2016 Shelby GT350
The 5.2L Voodoo V8 cranks out 526hp at a lofty 7500 rpm, thanks to its flat-plane crank. All new 6th-gen platform.
From the Flathead to the new Voodoo, pictures, specs, history & more on Ford's many V8 engine families
Check out these MUSTANG BOOKS
VINTAGE FORD MUSTANGS 2017 wall calendar
FORD MUSTANG 2017 16-month wall calendar
MUSTANG 2017 wall calendar
MUSTANG 2017 square calendar w/ST-foil
MUSTANG 2017 mini 7X7 calendar
COMPLETE BOOK OF FORD MUSTANG
MUSTANG FIFTY YEARS: CELEBRATING AMERIA’S ONLY TRUE PONY CAR
MUSTANG 2015: THE NEW GENERATION
FORD MUSTANG RED BOOK, 1964-1/2 TO 2015
FORD MUSTANG 1964.5-1973: HOW TO BUILD & MODIFY
FORD MUSTANG 1964.5-1973: ORIGINALITY GUIDE FOR RESTORERS
FORD MUSTANG - AMERICA’S GREATEST MUSCLE CAR
FORD MUSTANG 1994-2004 HAYNES REPAIR MANUAL
FORD MUSTANG 2005-2014 HAYNES REPAIR MANUAL
FORD TOTAL PERFORMANCE: FORD’S LEGENDARY STREET & RACE CARS
OFFICIAL FORD MUSTANG 5.0 TECHNICAL REFERENCE & PERFORMANCE HANDBOOK
MUSTANG RESTORATION HANDBOOK
ART OF THE MUSTANG
HISTORY OF THE FORD MUSTANG
FORD MUSTANG FIRST GENERATION, 1964-1973
FORD MUSTANG 1964.5-1973 HAYNES REPAIR MANUAL
FORD MUSTANG 1994-2004, CHILTON’S REPAIR MANUAL
MUSTANG & COUGAR 1964-1973, CHILTON’S REPAIR MANUAL
FORD MUSTANG: 20 INSPIRATIONAL CARS, VOLUME 1
FORD MUSTANG, AMERICA’S PONY CAR
FORD ENGINE BUILDUPS
FORD MUSTANG, FAST CARS
HOW TO RESTORE Y OUR MUSTANG 1964.5-1973
FORD MUSTANG 2005-2014, CHILTON’S REPAIR MANUAL
FORD MUSTANG, FIRST GEAR
FORD MUSTANG: FIFTH GENERATION 2005-2014
SHELBY MUSTANG FIFTY YEARS
MUSTANG & CAPRI 1979-1993, HAYNES REPAIR MANUAL
HOW TO TUNE & MODIFY YOUR 5.0 MUSTANG
HOW TO BUILD MAX-PERFORMANCE 4.6 LITER FORD ENGINES
MUSTANG RESTORATION GUIDE: 1965-1973
COMPLETE BOOK OF MUSTANGS, EVERY MODEL SINCE 1964-1/2
ROAD & TRACK ICONIC CARS: FORD MUSTANG
FORD MUSTANG BUYERS’ & RESTORATION GUIDE
THE STORY OF THE FORD MUSTANG
MUSTANG DOES IT! AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY
RESTORING THE 1964-66 FORD MUSTANG WITH INTEGRITY
HOW TO BUILD SMALL BLOCK FORD ENGINES
WEEKEND PROJECTS FOR YOUR MUSTANG
HIGH PERFORMANCE MUSTANG BUYERS GUIDE
PLEASE LOOK AROUND AMERICAN-MUSCLE-CARS.NET:
CLASSIC CAR SHOWS
CLASSIC CAR MUSEUMS
CLASSIC CAR AUCTIONS
CLASSIC CAR DEALERS
AMERICAN MUSCLE CARS:
...............El Camino SS
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FORD MOTOR COMPANY / FOMOCO
AMERICAN MOTORS / AMC
MODERN MUSCLE CARS, 2000 and newer
MUSCLE CAR ENGINES
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We are growing as fast as we can, gathering and taking eye-popping photos of awesome Classic American Muscle Cars, doing research on specifications and history, and writing content. We all love these great cars, so it’s not like work, in fact, it’s a blast. But it does take time. If you see that we’re lacking in some area, we just don’t have the photos and/or content yet to finish. Give us some time and as we get more eye-popping photos, we will continue to flesh out the site. Join us as we grow, but please be patient with that growth.
PS: Special thanks go out to Specialty Sales
) for the hundreds of eye-popping pictures they've allowed us to use. Specialty has 4 classic car showrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area full of gorgeous classics. We'd also like to thank The Goodguys
) for putting on some of the best car shows around, and allowing me to take all these great pictures. Thanks again to you both.
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Last updated 4/16/17
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