L ate last month, in celebration of Carroll Shelby’s birthday, the Petersen Museum played host to a group of Shelby fanatics. The crowd turned up in all manner of Cobra, Mustang, and other Shelby-touched rides, providing a reasonably thorough snapshot of his automotive accomplishments. There was a lot to take in, but here are seven of our favorites from the cars in attendance.
1965 A/C Cobra 427 S/C
As much as we appreciate showroom fresh, minty clean classics, a dinged and dusty survivor is far more interesting. Sandwiched between gleaming replicas and a few restored originals, this well-worn Hertz Gold 427 S/C was a stark standout. This is CSX3047, one of just 31 Semi-Competition Cobras, and just one of two in Hertz Gold.
According to Hemmings, CSX3047 was considered for a full frame-off restoration in 2005, but the then-owner decided simply to “de-paint” the car, removing much of the existing blue to reveal the original Hertz Gold underneath.
1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang
As part of Ford’s mission to bring the Mustang into the racing paddock, Shelby was brought on board to prep the Pony Car for its competition debut. The end result was the Shelby GT350, a stripped-down, powered-up Mustang that took the SCCA by storm.
Much like the AC Cobra, low production numbers and rarity keep values of original cars high, inspiring many enthusiasts to build their own replica, but this GT350 is apparently the real deal, as enumerated by a “1NOFAKE” license plate. And if you believe the side-exit exhaust, it’s one of just 562 GT350s to leave the factory in 1965—for 1966, the exhaust outlet was moved from the side to the rear of the car.
1964 Sunbeam Tiger
While Shelby was hard at work developing the V-8-powered AC Ace into the first AC Cobra, the Rootes Group approached him to help co-develop its own V-8 roadster. Using the itty-bitty Sunbeam Alpine as the canvas, a 4.3-liter (260ci) Ford V-8 was shoehorned in, putting out a respectable 164 hp.
Thanks to a reasonably affordable price, when production ended in 1967, slightly over 7,000 Tigers had left the factory.
2016/2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
It’s certainly not the rarest car on the list, but seeing someone pick a color other than black, blue, or red tickled our fancy. Since it’s one of the modern GT350s, it packed one of the most exotic engines at the show—a 5.2-liter flat-plane V-8 that spins to just over 8,000 rpm.
1999 Shelby Series I
Fun fact–technically speaking, this curvaceous roaster is the only car that Carroll Shelby ever designed from the ground up. All other previous Shelby vehicles began life as an existing model, including the AC Cobra.
The Series I was Shelby’s attempt at stealing some market share from the Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper. It utilized a relatively complex front-mid-engine layout with a dual wishbone suspension incorporating remote reservoirs.
In place of the traditional Ford V-8, a thoroughly modern 4.0-liter DOHC V-8 was sourced from Oldsmobile, putting out 320 hp and 290 lb-ft in the Series I. In conjunction with a low 2,650-pound curb weight, the roadster is capable of 4.4-second 0-60 mph sprints.
Despite grand production plans, only 249 Series I left the Las Vegas factory.
Modified 1967/1968 Shelby GT500
I’m no Shelby-savant, so forgive me if this is a real-deal GT500. However, from the looks of things inside and out, this red widebody Mustang appears to be an extremely well-done resto-mod mocked up like a GT500.
With a partial roll cage, swollen fender flares, and deep-dish wheels, this was one of the most visually aggressive cars at the show. Compared to the myriad Eleanor clones clogging up cruise-ins around the country, if this is GT500 is replica, it’s a replica done right.
1964 AC Cobra 289 “Dirt Bag”
We’re ending as we began, with an original Cobra in semi-derelict condition. This is CSX2307, a surviving 289 Cobra that lives up to its nickname. There are rough patches of paint, patina, and pitted chrome everywhere, extending to the interior with worn carpet and cracked leather.
Owner Lynn Park was considering putting 2307 through a full restoration when Carroll Shelby himself mentioned he should keep it the way it is. Since then, 2307 remains as ratty and original as the day Lynn first picked it up.