List: Ten Greatest Shelbys

By Brandon Turkus

May 14, 2012


10) 1966 Ford GT40 MkII: Ford’s historic first, second, and third-place finish at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans was a huge moment for the company and for Shelby, whose Shelby American team campaigned the first and second place vehicles. Powered by a 7.0-liter V-8, Shelby American’s GT40s were piloted by Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Ken Miles, Denis Hulme, Dan Gurney, and Jerry Grant.


9) 1999 Shelby Series 1: The Series 1 remains the only ground-up design from Shelby American, with every other vehicle acting as a donor car for the sorcerers at Shelby headquarters. The Series 1 was powered by a 4.0-liter, Oldsmobile V-8 with an optional supercharger. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. Sprints to 60 were rumored to be in the mid three-second range. (Photo Credit: The Pug Father)


8) 1966 Ford Shelby GT350-H: At today’s rental lots, you’ll be confronted by a wall of boring sedans and SUVs, along with a few well-worn “fun” cars. Rental lots of the 1960s must have been a lot more fun, particularly because of the Shelby GT350-H. As part of the Rent-A-Racer program, customers could snag a GT350-H with a 289-cubic-inch engine and a four-speed manual gearbox. Later 350-Hs were fitted with automatic transmissions. To this day, GT350-Hs are some of the rarest muscle cars money can buy. (Photo Credit: Megathon Charlie)


7) 2012 Shelby 1000: Just a few short weeks ago at the New York International Auto Show, we were drooling over the 1100-horsepower Shelby 1000. Whether you agree with a $200,000 Mustang with more power than a standard Bugatti Veyron or not (the overwhelming majority of our commenters certainly didn’t), the amount of power squeezed out of the 5.4-liter V-8 is extremely impressive. While people may not like the price, we’d argue that there are few vehicles that exemplify the Shelby attitude towards performance so well.


6) 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe: If you want rare, then you want a Daytona Coupe. Including the prototype, only six were ever built. The kammback design along with other aero tweaks were all part of preparations to take on Ferrari in GT racing. Power came from the 289-cubic-inch V-8 from the Cobra Roadster and Mustang. (Photo Credit: Nigel Smuckatelli)


5) 1992 Dodge Viper RT/10: Strictly speaking, this isn't a Shelby. Still, Carroll's fingerprints are all over both the original RT/10 and the hardtop GTS, and his original Cobra was a primary source of inspiration for Chrysler's super car. Instead of a V-8, the Viper got a 400-horsepower V-10 displacing eight liters (488 cubic inches). The original 1992 Viper could hit 60 miles per hour in the mid four second range and had a claimed top speed of around 180 miles per hour. Did we mention that these cars lacked antilock brakes, traction control, and stability control (these last two were still extremely new back in 1992)? Yeah, people were crazy back then.


4) 1965 Ford Shelby GT350: Shelby’s first attempt at tuning the Mustang ponycar came out quite well, with the result being the 1965 GT350. Designed with racing in mind, the GT350 was more than just a jumped up engine. The 289-cubic-inch V-8 produced 306 horsepower (over the factory 271 ponies). The rear-end was beefed up, as were the brakes. The GT350 was more racer than street car, and remains to this day one of the most hardcore of the 1960s Mustangs. (Photo Credit: Omninate)


3) 1968 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500KR: The GT500KR (KR stood for King of the Road) boasted a 428-cubic-inch Ford CobraJet engine, good for 335 horsepower. If that sounds a bit weak, don’t fret. Rumors of underestimated horsepower figures were rampant in the 60s, and with the 428CJs and other big blocks in particular. The KR was available in both coupe and convertible. (Photo Credit: Sicnag)


2) 1966 Shelby Cobra 427: With a 427-cubic-inch Ford side-oiler V-8, the Mark III Cobras, as they came to be called, produced 425 horsepower and topped out at 164 miles per hour. Models set up for competition produced a scary 485 horsepower and could hit 185 miles per hour. If you are looking for big-block thrills, then the 427 Cobra is sure to be your cup of moonshine. (Photo Credit: Omninate)


1) 1962 AC Cobra: This is the one that started it all. With a small, lightweight roadster body from British manufacturer AC Cars, Carroll Shelby built a legend. Power in the first 75 cars came from a 260-cubic-inch V-8, while the remaining 51 Mark I’s featured the better-known 289-cubic-inch Ford V-8. Like the Lotus 7, the original Cobra will live on long past the original production models, as there’s currently a booming replicar and kit car industry for those looking for a taste of the Cobra. (Photo Credit: Jeepmedic)

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On Friday afternoon, the legendary Carroll Shelby passed away at the age of 89. He leaves behind a legacy of outstanding performance machines that spans over 40 years, and includes such hits as the GT350 and GT500 Mustangs, an Oldsmobile V-8-powered supercar, and a spate of Chrysler products, which culminated with the birth of the V-10-powered Dodge Viper.
Still, his most notable contribution to the automotive world was the legendary Shelby Cobra, a car that has inspired hoards of imitators and kit cars (much to the chagrin of Shelby). Taking the body of a British AC Ace roadster and dropping in a Ford V-8, Shelby built a monster that became both the meanest car on the street and on the track.
With Shelby’s passing, we find ourselves looking back on ten of the greatest vehicles to bare his name. No list like this can ever truly be “complete,” so feel free to add your own choices in the comments.