By Patrick Rall
Last night at Baylor Hospital in Dallas Texas, 89 year old
Carroll Shelby – a man who had as great a hand as any in improving American
performance cars over the last 50+ years – passed away after a lengthy battle
with pneumonia. Rumors to Mr. Shelby’s
passing originally surfaced in late April to which Shelby himself replied on
Facebook – proclaiming that he was in the hospital recovering from pneumonia
with his family by his side. Sadly,
Shelby’s company issued a statement this morning announcing the passing of the
While Carroll Shelby’s name is best known in modern time for
his work with the Ford GT500 Mustang, Mr. Shelby had a profound impact on the
world of Mopar Performance starting in the 1980s.
The Shelby name first showed up on a Chrysler
Corporation product in 1983 with the introduction of the Dodge Shelby
Charger. This car, like the many “turbo
Dodge” vehicles that followed over the 10 years as Carroll Shelby worked to
invent the American sport compact segment, was powered by a diminutive
4-cylinder engine using turbocharging technology to make big (for the time)
power. These cars were among the
quickest on the street in the 1980s and 1990s but unlike most American performance
cars that packed V8 power and focused mostly on straight line performance – the
Shelby Turbo Dodge cars were as impressive in terms of handling as they were in
all-out acceleration. Between 1983 and 1993,
the Shelby name appeared on high performance versions of the Charger, the Omni,
the Daytona, the Lancer, the Shadow, the Spirit and the CSX-T – which was based
on the Shadow. Shelby also built 1,500
high performance Dakota pickups with V8 engines, some of which were convertible
pickups. While with Chrysler, Shelby’s
performance works were unlike anything the market had seen before – but years
later things like high performance compact cars and pickup trucks have become a
Finally, Carroll Shelby’s most significant contribution to
the Chrysler Group in recent time was his help with the development of the
original Dodge Viper in the early 1990s.
The mighty Shelby Cobra was among the inspirations for the open-aired
Viper Roadster and Shelby’s assistance was vital in making the Viper such an
incredible performance car in every way.
The folks at DodgeForum.com send their condolences to the
Shelby family in their time of loss.
Carroll Shelby was an amazing man who arguably did more for the high
performance automotive market than anyone in the history of the vehicle.