Most people remember Shelby for the work he did to convert the humble AC Ace into the AC Cobra, and also for all the work he has done to the Mustang’s since the mid-1960’s. However, some people forget that Shelby actually started out as a racing driver and has not only competed in Formula-One, but had also won the 1959 Le Mans 24-Hour race in an Aston Martin DBR4.
Throughout his life, Shelby’s name was attached to many production and race cars, but they were all improvements on others products.
In the mid-1990’s, Shelby wanted to change that by coming up with his own car. This car was to start from a clean sheet of paper and would be built exactly to his specifications.
The car he came up with was the stunning Shelby Series 1.
To keep the project on budget and to meet the ever tighter emissions regulations, Shelby decided to take an existing engine and put it in his car. To many’s surprise, he didn’t pick a Ford engine. For the Series 1, Shelby went with a GM-sourced 4.0-liter, double-over-head-cam, V8 which would be familiar to anyone who has owned an Oldsmobile Aurora.
This engine, after Shelby’s tweaking, produced 320-hp and 290-lb/ft of torque. That was enough to propel it from 0-96 km/h in just 4.4 seconds and the car could top out at 274 km/h.
Shelby even had some supercharged versions produced for clients, and these cars (depending on their tuning) produced around 450-hp to 600-hp. So those versions were as fast as the car looked. Power was fed to the rear wheels via a six-speed ZF-manual gearbox.
So as a performance car it was good, but it was not a game changer by any means. In a market where the Dodge Viper roamed, the less-powerful yet more expensive Series 1 (base price was around $150,000) was not an easy sell, despite its pedigree.
A total of 249-examples of the Series 1 were produced, all being 1999 models.
It is not impossible to find the Series 1 for sale in the used car market, but they have not depreciated much, so expect to pay around $100,000 still. With the news of Mr. Shelby’s passing, I’m sure prices of these rare sports cars will start inching up.
Carroll Shelby was 89.