Here are the 10 coolest Shelby cars ever made
Few people know that just twelve days after Karl Benz unveiled his 1886 Benz Motorwagen, a small American company produced an aerodynamic kit and a high-flow exhaust pipe for the same car. These upgrades increased stopping power from a measly two-thirds to a full pony.
So when Carroll Shelby started Shelby America in 1962 with the vision of selling performance parts and turning stock cars into performance monsters, it was already an idea that had been in practice for decades. But Carroll Shelby was a genius, and his company went on to build some of the most iconic cars, many of which are based on various Ford models, or using Ford powertrains.
The former American 24 Hours of Le Mans champion turned inventor built unique, versatile and high-performance automobiles. Shelby, the company, continued the tradition of producing legendary cars even in the absence of its founder. So what are the coolest cars Shelby has ever made? Let’s find out.
ten 50th Anniversary Shelby GT40 MKII
In 1965, the GT40 program proved to be Ford’s most significant racing investment in the American manufacturer’s history. The collaboration between Ford and Shelby beat Ferrari and dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a superb 1-2-3 in the 1966 race, followed by three more consecutive victories. Fifty years later, Shelby has created the GT40 Shelby Edition to honor the historic Shelby GT40 MKII.
The continuation cars carry the DNA of the original car, with a monocoque steel monocoque chassis and independent suspensions. All dimensions and cockpit design are identical to the Legendary Champion.
9 1965-’66 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Car enthusiasts fell in love with the Mustang as soon as it went on sale in 1964. But that original car was far from a sports car, as it was based on the economy car Falcon. Ford turned to Shelby to turn the Mustang into a race-worthy car ready to compete in the SCCA’s B Production class. Shelby made several changes, including removing the rear seat, adding a Holley carburetor, exhaust manifolds, Koni shocks and sportier wheels.
The result was a performance increase from 271 hp to 306 hp. 562 copies of the GT350 were manufactured, exceeding the minimum of 100 required to homologate it in competition. Today it is one of the most iconic Mustangs ever made.
8 1989 Dodge Omni GLH-S
When Carroll Shelby moved to Dodge after his good friend Lee Iacocca took over Chrysler, there wasn’t a car in Dodge’s lineup that offered anything like a Mustang or a Cobra. Thanks to its low mass and simple engineering, Shelby settled on the humble Omni as a model. The 2.2-liter I4-powered car saw its power increase to 110 hp in the first year, up to 175 hp in the “Goes Like Hell Some More” model.
The Omni GLH-S didn’t break a sales record, but it did set a precedent for the truly powerful small cars that roam our roads today.
seven Mustang Shelby GT500 2013
It’s arguably one of the best Shelby cars you can drive, and it’s even more special since it was the last car to be launched by Shelby himself. At the time, it was the most powerful production car, with a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine developing 662 hp.
The 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500 comes with a revised nimble and responsive suspension. Add the high performance numbers, and you have a car that embodies the spirit of the Shelby cars that came before it, but this time with modern features.
6 1968 Shelby EXP 500 “Green Hornet”
The Shelby EXP 500 never entered production, as Ford and Shelby built it as one of two prototypes intended for R&D purposes. Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson currently owns both cars; the other is the 1967 “Little Red”. This car is arguably the most important prototype of the GT/SC program, as it boasts cutting-edge muscle car hardware from the late 60s.
The Green Hornet project started with a 390 cubic inch V-8 engine, but Shelby replaced it with a fuel-injected 428 engine. Shelby also fixed a Thunderbird taillight and custom body panels and completed the conversion with a truck-based transmission, rear suspension and four-wheel disc brakes.
5 1968 Toyota 2000 GT
Many people may consider the Honda NSX or the Nissan R390 as the first Japanese supercar. But the Toyota 2000GT, probably the most beautiful Japanese car ever made, is the car that ushered Japan into the world of supercars. It’s easy to see why this was the only Japanese car Shelby ever worked on; it was low, elegant and very fast.
Shelby stripped two of the 351 units ever made, freed them of unnecessary parts, increased engine capacity, and replaced tires and suspensions, ready to race and win in SCCA production car competitions.
4 Cobra 260 Mark I & Cobra 289 Mark II
In the 1950s American car enthusiasts believed that apart from muscle cars there were no truly good sports cars to be proud of, which paved the way for the birth of a legend. . A former Le Mans winner who would have remained a mere footnote in racing history has built a lasting legacy by slapping an all-American V8 engine into a lightweight British car, the AC Cobra. The engine only produced 271 hp, but considering the light weight, it could compete with the mighty Ferraris and Corvettes.
Both the Mark I and Mark II were unsophisticated cars and apart from the aluminum body, their design was almost primitive with technology from the early 1950s. But the successes of both cars lay in their development rather than their design.
3 Shelby Series 1 and Series 2
The Shelby Series 1 was the big man’s attempt to create a car that would crown his unrivaled career. In its own words, the ambitious project was meant to be “a clean sports car” with no knockoffs and an honest Cobra, the first built from the ground up by Shelby. When presented in 1998, it was a timeless car with its retro style. The roadster featured crisp handling, a modern powertrain and precision ride.
Only 250 units of the Oldsmobile-powered Series 1 were made. The low-production 2 Series was a leap forward from the 1 Series, and it blends classic craftsmanship with modern technologies, pushing the roadster into supercar territory.
2 Shelby F-150
High-powered muscle pickups are all the rage lately, with trucks like Dodge and Ford that can rival supercars in terms of straight-line performance. The Shelby F-150 Super Snake with the most outrageous trucks, with 775 hp of bite that helps it blast to 60 mph in just 3.45 seconds to put it in the conversation for the fastest pickup trucks ever made.
The Super Snake is based on the outgoing Ford F-150, and it received lowered suspension, upgraded brakes, 6-piston front calipers, a body kit, and 22-inch wheels on high-performance street tires.
1 Cobra 427 Super Snake
This car best describes Carroll Shelby, a man who did things just because he could. Why? He took the 427, which was already by far the most vicious car in production, and decided to go the extra mile with two of the cars. After receiving twin Paxton superchargers, huge hood scoops and more responsive three-speed automatic transmissions, the 427 Super Snakes boasted between 800 and 900 hp.
Shelby kept one car for himself and the other for his buddy Bill Cosby. Cosby was scared of the car and it was later sold. The new owner drove it off a cliff and into the ocean. In 2007, Shelby’s car became the most expensive American car when it sold for $5.5 million at the Barrett-Jackson auction.
sources: shelby.com, barret-jackson.com, hargety.com, hotcars.com
Shelby cars are an awesome mix of different vehicle types, and here are the coolest and worst of the lot.
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