If you love muscle cars, you must have heard of Carroll Shelby. While some people have only heard of Shelby because of the Shelby Cobra kit car, many others view him as an American icon. He was born in Leesburg Texas on January 11, 1923. As a child he suffered from problems with the leak one of his heart valves. As a consequence, he was forced to spend most of his childhood in bed.
Shelby developed a love of cars when he was a teenager. He joined the military when he was 16 because that was the year the United States entered World War II. He learned how to fly planes an Army but he never saw action during the war. Hey served as a flight instructor in Texas and Colorado from 1941 until 1945. After the war he returned to civilian life. His several attempts at entrepreneurship failed at first. First he tried to start the dump truck business but that failed. Next he tried his hand add chicken farming but that, too, did not succeed.
Shelby’s first foray into car racing was in a race where he drove a borrowed car. Later on, he would tell people at the creation and development of the Shelby Cobra, which is the inspiration for The Shelby Cobra kit car, came from his thoughts of that borrowed Cad-Allards. While his attempts at business had not been successful, it seemed he was destined to drive.
When Shelby was still driving borrowed cars, he caught the eye of the Aston Martin driving team. They saw that he enjoyed success driving against cars much faster than his. In 1956 he opened the Carroll Shelby Sports car dealership. That year he was named the sports illustrated Driver of the year. While he was a successful driver, he dreamed of developing his own sports car. In 1960, he had to give up racing because of his heart condition.
In 1961, the British car company AC cars announced it was stopping production of the AC Ace car. The recent they cited was that the Bristol six-cylinder engine was no longer being made. Shelby saw this as an opportunity. He believed that the nimble English car could be paired up with a powerful American V8 engine. He thought the combination would make for an amazing, performance driving car.
To achieve his goal he contracted with the Ford Motor Company and the AC Car company. AC cars agreed to send him an AC Ace with no engine. He took that to Ford were they installed a Ford 260 engine. This combination of ford engineering and AC Cars body design would be the Shelby Cobra car. While the Shelby Cobra kit car was still years off, the Shelby cobra to the world by storm. The combination of a powerful engine such as the Ford 289 V8 and a small lightweight frame of the AC Ace was a revolutionary development in muscle car technology.
Shelby was not satisfied. He saw more potential for his vehicle. He began work on the Shelby Cobra 427, which was a faster and more powerful version of the Shelby Cobra. This new version featured a big block 7 L engine from Ford. People told him that he was crazy to put this much power in such a lightweight frame, he did not care. His belief was that it was not possible to build a car that was too powerful. The body of the AC Ace needed some modification for the V8 engine.
The Shelby Cobra 427 was the fastest car of its kind. Even by modern standards, it was a incredibly fast. It could go from 0 to 60 in approximately 4 seconds. It took only 10.3 seconds for the car, design in the early 1960s, to reach 100 mph from zero. The only real problem with that speed is that it was too difficult to handle for most drivers. Many crashed the Shelby Cobras because they were not accustomed to that level of speed and power.
Shelby’s creation was only produced from 1965 to 1967. Since then, Shelby Cobra kit cars have proliferated the market. Today, the best way to get your own Shelby Cobra is to get the kit and make it to yourself.