In what can only be described as a sad day for friends, family, and fans the world over, automotive legend Carroll Shelby has died at the age of 89. The cause of death was not revealed, but it’s been reported that Shelby had been in the hospital for several weeks, suffering from pneumonia.
Carrol Hall Shelby was born on January 11, 1923 in the small Texas town of Leesburg. The son of a mail carrier, Shelby’s life-long love affair with cars would begin to grow shortly after his family relocated to Dallas where he would discover auto racing.
He managed to turn that passion into a successful, but short, career as a racecar driver in the 1950s. Unfortunately, his stint behind the wheel would end earlydue to health issues, and in the 1960s turned his attention to building cars — a move that would inevitably begin his ascendancy into automotive history after besting Ferrari with his venomous Cobra hot rod.
But perhaps his greatest legacy will be remembered with the various models of Mustangs Shelby fathered. After winning a series of Trans-Am Racing titles his relationship with Ford began to blossom and as a result Shelby produced a string of high-performance variants of the Ford Mustang from 1965-1970. After a hiatus with Ford that lasted 37 years, the Shelby nameplate was revived in 2007.
“We are all deeply saddened, and feel a tremendous sense of loss for Carroll’s family, ourselves and the entire automotive industry,” said Joe Conway, president of Carroll Shelby International, Inc. and board member, in a statement. “There has been no one like Carroll Shelby and never will be. However, we promised Carroll we would carry on, and he put the team, the products and the vision in place to do just that.”
Shelby is survived by his three children — Patrick, Michael, and Sharon — as well as his sister Anne Shelby Ellison of Fort Worth and his wife Cleo.