Exclusive Carroll Shelby Interview - Candid With Carroll
In An Exclusive Mustang Monthly Interview, Carroll Shelby Clears The Air About Trademarks, Licensing, Lawsuits, And The Controversy With SAAC
You know, we had a licensing agreement with them for several years. We only charged a dollar a year, which they admit they never even bothered to pay. I told them two years ago that I wasn't going to renew their license if they didn't start sending us their financial information since they've been using our trademarks on T-shirts and other merchandise. They've taken memorabilia, which they promised to return whenever I asked-even stating that in the Registry and several editions of their newsletters. They've been selling some of my stuff and not accounting for the money, such as canceled checks to Ken Miles and Dan Gurney that they sold for hundreds of dollars on eBay. They've been passing them out to their friends and letting them sell them. I told them they've got to send their financials to our licensing company, as they agreed to do in their contract. They refused because they know how much money they've made and they simply don't want that information to go public to the members.
They're charging $500 for the new World Registry. I'm not going to stop that, but I'm also not going to let them put the Shelby name on it.
I also don't like the way they put on SAAC conventions. I want to put on a convention for all of the Shelby cars, including the Dodges and the new cars.
Ford gave them the license for the SVTOA, and Ken got up and insulted SVT Mustang owners by saying, "Someday you guys may be able to afford a real Shelby." That's when I made my mind up that I was going to throw them out because they showed no respect to anybody. For years, Ken said, "We don't need Carroll Shelby." So I didn't renew them. And we're going to court.
Since we didn't renew their contract, some of the owners of the club have said some pretty mean things about [Shelby Automobiles' president] Amy Boylan and me. For example, they've drawn a picture of me with a suicide bomb around my waist and called me "The Devil." I'm not going to get down in the gutter with them, but I'm also not going to leave my legacy in the hands of people who would send out stuff like that.
The truth of it all is that it's really been all the individual vintage Shelby owners and fans who've been keeping the love for the brand alive, not two people who own a private club that's in business to make money off my name and my work. All the SAAC members over the years have been great and I hope they understand that I appreciate their loyalty over the years. It's the two owners that I have issues with.
I don't want a for-profit organization operated by people I don't trust, having my legacy. I want that to be in the hands of Ford and my estate.
Now, can we move on to something more positive?
MM: Well, first let's touch on another trademark situation that affects many of the companies that provide parts to Mustang Monthly readers. Some say you're trying to prevent people from building fake Shelbys by making it difficult for the companies that make and sell those parts, like GT350 stripes and emblems.
Shelby: All we want to do with our trademarks is make sure we're dealing with people who are straight-up and honest. A lot of times people will build a fake Shelby and then make parts that violate our trademarks. We don't ask for a lot of money. We have some licensees who only pay a dollar a year. All I want to know is who is making these parts and using our trademarks. I want people to be in the business, but I also want them to deal on the top of the table.
MM: What do you think about the Eleanor Mustang from the movie Gone in 60 Seconds? Was that good for the Shelby legacy?
Shelby: If you watch the movie, you'll see that Nicolas Cage called it a Shelby GT500 several times. I've been told that it was eight times. Well, let me go into a little detail.