21ST SHELBY AMERICAN REUNION

21st Shelby American Reunion

Perhaps nobody other than Enzo Ferrari commands as much loyalty as American racing legend Carroll Shelby. Unlike Ferrari, Shelby switched allegiances depending on the prevailing climate. In the 1950s, he raced for Allard, Aston-Martin, Healey and even Ferrari. He even raced Formula One in 1958 and ’59 before launching his own car in 1962. Even then he switched from Ford to Chrysler/Dodge to GM’s Oldsmobile as the business climate shifted. However, it is the Cobra and associated vehicles such as the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT500 that are logged in our memory chips as iconic American performance cars. 2 original Shelby cobras

The Cobra came about because Shelby had learned to like American-powered, lightweight European sports cars with the Cadillac-powered Allards. When the time came to build his own sports car he planned to combine the lightweight, aluminum-bodied British AC Ace chassis with a Ford V8. The AC had an aging Bristol 4-cylinder that was underpowered and outdated. In 1962, the Ford V8 was as modern as it got.

“...[We] worked around the clock to build the first Cobra in Moon’s cramped shop. Shelby sat on a stool and watched the action. I was just a kid.”Roy Gammell

Sans engine and paint, an Ace was shipped to Dean Moon’s hot rod shop in Santa Fe Springs, California. There, a small group of rodders including Phil Remington, Roy Gammell and his son Doyle installed a 260-cubic-inch, small-block Ford and had hot rodder Dean Jeffries paint it yellow for the 1962 New York Auto Show. The rest, as they say, is history. Incidentally, that first Cobra, now painted blue, sold in 2016 for $13.75 million.
Classic Cobra at the 21st Shelby American Reunion
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Shelby Cobra project on display
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Hugely successful on the race track but less so in the showroom—only 654 small-block Cobras and 350 big-block cars were sold—the Shelby Cobra is possibly the world’s best known sports car and its legacy continues to this day with related car clubs, clothing lines, and continuation cars—the Cobra being possibly the most copied car on the planet. They say there are probably more Cobras now than there ever were ever built originally and I don’t doubt it.
Classic Tiger at the 21st Shelby American Reunion
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Tiger engine
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Classic Ford at the 21st Shelby American Reunion
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Rare original Ford GT350 with convertible top
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
There are also numerous events such as the recent 21st Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club Shelby Tribute and Car Show at the Shelby headquarters in Gardena, California. This huge facility is now home to a small museum of Carroll Shelby’s vehicles, an event space and Original Venice Crew Mustangs (OVC) building continuation GT350s using original ’65 Mustangs. The show is an annual free event open to the public. The several hundred cars on display can be anything relating to Shelby automobiles from Falcons, Ford-powered Sunbeam Tigers and De Tomaso Panteras to an array of the new Ford GT including the custom painted black, white and orange one owned by ex-Ford designer Camilo Pardo who designed the previous GT model. And, of course, there’s a huge selection of Cobras and Mustangs that included a rare station wagon built out of a ’66 coupe and one of only four Mustang GT350 convertibles. What’s literally very cool is that many of the cars are displayed inside the cavernous building out of the hot sun.
GT40s at the 21st Shelby American Reunion
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Cobra Daytona at the 21st Shelby American Reunion
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Ford GT350 wagon at the 21st Shelby American Reunion
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving GT350
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Shelby Series 1
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
You get the run of the building; get to see Shelby-associated celebrities such as Roy Gammell who worked on Cobra numero uno to Doug Dwyer, Ted Sutton, Jim Marietta who operates OVC Mustangs and racing driver/instructor Bob Bondurant. All are approachable and have great stories to tell. We spoke to StateofSpeed.com friend Roy Gammell who worked with his father on that very first Cobra: “We had no time, so dad, myself, Phil Remington, Larry Maldonado and Fred Larsen worked around the clock to build the first Cobra in Moon’s cramped shop. Shelby sat on a stool and watched the action. I was just a kid.”
Bob Bondurant signing autographs at the Shelby headquarters
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Poster honoring Ted Sutton
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
21st Shelby American Reunion signed poster
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Ford v Ferrari movie promotion
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
Two of our favorite cars on display were the one and only 1968 Shelby Lonestar that was built as a stillborn supercar continuation of the Cobra and CSX 3047. This ‘survivor’ Cobra was one of only two painted Hertz gold by the factory in 1965. Despite its well-patinated paint, it is said to be the most original 427 SC left in existence.
Original CSX 3047 427 SC
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker

...The Shelby Cobra is possibly the world’s best known sports car and its legacy continues to this day.

One of a kind Shelby Lonestar
Photo Credit: Tony Thacker
For more information about LASAAC and the Carroll Shelby Tribute Car Show visit, lashelbyclub.com

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