Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Carroll Shelby Jan. 11, 1923 - May 10, 2012 Legendary Sports Car Designer Who Worked for Ford, Chrysler

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Carroll Shelby Jan. 11, 1923 - May 10, 2012 Legendary Sports Car Designer Who Worked for Ford, Chrysler

Article excerpt

Carroll Shelby, the legendary auto racer and car designer who built the fabled Shelby Cobra sports car and injected testosterone into Ford's Mustang and Chrysler's Viper, died Thursday. He was 89.

Mr. Shelby's company, Carroll Shelby International, said Friday that Mr. Shelby died a day earlier at a Dallas hospital. He had received a heart transplant in 1990 and a kidney transplant in 1996.

He was one of the nation's longest-living heart transplant recipients, having received a heart on June 7, 1990, from a 34-year- old man who died of an aneurism. Mr. Shelby also received a kidney transplant in 1996 from his son, Michael.

The 1992 inductee into the Automobile Hall of Fame had homes in Los Angeles and his native east Texas.

The one-time chicken farmer had more than a half-dozen successful careers during his long life. Among them: champion race car driver, racing team owner, automobile manufacturer, automotive consultant, safari tour operator, raconteur, chili entrepreneur and philanthropist.

"He's an icon in the medical world and an icon in the automotive world," his longtime friend, Dick Messer, executive director of Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum, once said of Mr. Shelby.

"His legacy is the diversity of his life," Mr. Messer said. "He's incredibly innovative. His life has always been the reinvention of Carroll Shelby."

Mr. Shelby first made his name behind the wheel of a car, winning France's grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race with teammate Ray Salvadori in 1959. He already was suffering serious heart problems and ran the race "with nitroglycerin pills under his tongue," Mr. Messer once noted.

He had turned to the race-car circuit in the 1950s after his chicken ranch failed. He won dozens of races in various classes throughout the 1950s and was twice named Sports Illustrated's Driver of the Year.

Soon after his win at Le Mans, he gave up racing and turned his attention to designing high-powered "muscle cars" that eventually became the Shelby Cobra and the Mustang Shelby GT500.

The Cobra, which used Ford engines and a British sport car chassis, was the fastest production model ever made when it was displayed at the New York Auto Show in 1962. …

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