Carroll Shelby: King of the Road [Video]
Turning a Mule Into A Racehorse
When people think Mustang, many folks think of the great and late Carroll Shelby, an auto legend who changed the world of Mustangs forever. Over the past 50 years, the Shelby name has really taken the Mustang world by storm.
Believe it or not, Carroll Shelby entered the Mustang world through Ford Racing. Back in 1964 right after the Mustang first came out, Lee Iacocca made a phone call to Carroll Shelby and said that he wanted to make a racecar out of this new so-called Mustang. Carroll Shelby called it the “secretary’s car” and didn’t think it could be done.
“You can’t make a racehorse out of a mule” was a legendary saying from Carroll Shelby, but with Iacocca adamant about securing a performance reputation for Ford, big changes were made to this “secretary’s car” to seriously enhance its performance.
Ford then decided to hop up the V-8 engine to 300+ horsepower, change the brakes and suspension, delete the rear seats and really turned the new Mustang into a high-performance racecar.
Early that next year, Carroll Shelby revealed the GT350 ready for the driver seeking that raw racecar power. It sure looked fast, and with the likes of champion Sir Sterling Moss at the wheel, it soon acquired the on-track credibility to match its looks.
“A car makes a name. A name doesn’t make a car.” Well, the GT350 got its name in an unusual way. Arguing about what to call this new creation, Shelby called the shop foreman and told him to count the steps from the corner of the building to the airport (which bordered the property) in which he returned with the number 347. After that, Carroll Shelby decided to name this new go-fast Mustang, the GT350.
As time went on, the factory Ford Mustangs were getting faster and faster out of the gate so Carroll Shelby kept his team ahead of the performance pack introducing the later GT350s, the GT500, and GT500KR “King of the Road.”
Even after Carroll Shelby’s passing in 2012, Shelby still leads the pack in performance Mustangs. Nowadays, the Shelby GT500 doubles in horsepower from the first GT350 with the current Shelby GT500 Mustang cranking out 662hp and capable of reaching speeds of 200mph.
Without the likes of Carroll and his team shaping the performance, the Mustang world could be a completely different horse today.