The theme for the Fourth Annual Columbia River Concours d’Elegance & Car Show is Carroll Shelby, his Life and Cars.
An icon in the automotive world, Carroll Shelby was a superb race car driver winning three sports car championships in the U. S. He also won France’s grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race with teammate Roy Salvadori in 1959. By 1960, however, he was forced into early retirement by a heart condition. He later married the Ford V8 to an AC roadster to create the Cobra. This car won the FIA sports car championship in 1965. The coupe derivative went on to conquer Le Mans GT class in 1967. Ford had launched the GT40 to beat Ferrari at its own game…but it took Carroll Shelby’s team management and racing expertise to put together the winning combination to take Le Mans 1, 2, 3 in 1965 and winning the next two years, too.
His relationship with Ford carried over into the production models of Mustang creating the GT 350 and later GT500 models. These cars, too, were very successful in racing, winning many SCCA national titles. Ford would go on to use Shelby designs and inspiration for many years to come. The latest iterations of the Shelby Mustangs are some of the most powerful production cars ever made. Other manufacturers with whom he worked to create very special automobiles were Chrysler (various Dodge models, culminating with the Viper) and Oldsmobile.
Sadly, Carroll Shelby died last year at age 89, having the distinction of being one of the longest lived heart transplant patients to date. He was always generous with his time to his foundation which funds transplant operations for children and which will carry on his good works for many years to come.
In our show field this year we have many examples of his cars…a number have his autograph proudly displayed. He frequently appeared in person at Concours and car shows like ours…he will truly be missed….