Carroll Shelby Dead At 89
Carroll Shelby, the charismatic Texan who brought us high-performance, street-legal cars, died Thursday. He was 89.
Shelby died at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, according to an announcement by his company, Carroll Shelby Licensing. A cause was not disclosed.
He led a colorful, outsized life that touched virtually every corner of the automotive world, said Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
“He was the only individual to influence the designs of all three major American automakers. Everything he touched became legendary,” Kendall said. “Even recently he was working on an experimental engine.”
Living in the fast lane was a matter of fact for Carroll Shelby, who designed the cult-classic Shelby Cobras and Ford’s Shelby Mustang.
He raced cars. He had a heart transplant from a Las Vegas gambler in 1990 and a kidney transplant from a son in 1996. He was married seven times.
In recent years he had returned to Ford to work on the concept for the new Mustang GT500 and wrangled with manufacturers of Cobra replicas over the rights to the design. His Las Vegas factory cranked out his own fiberglass version, and he also had a plant there making racing tires.
He established the Carroll Shelby Children’s Foundation to provide medicine and pay for medical bills of children who are afflicted by heart disease and do not have the means to pay for treatment. A portion from the sale of his Cobras goes into that fund.
Shelby had homes in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and at his two ranches in Texas.
In addition to his wife Cleo, his survivors include sons Patrick and Michael (who donated a kidney to his father); a daughter, Sharon Levine; and sister, Anne Shelby Ellison, all of whom live in the Dallas area.