photos by: the author
Timeless Muscle Visits the 5th-Annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show
There was no one like Carroll Shelby. He was a helluva racecar driver, a helluva business mogul, a helluva car builder, and a helluva competitor—it all made him one helluva man. It’s only fitting that Shelby American created this tribute car show in the place where it all began: Southern California. The 5th-Annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show would make him proud.
Let’s step back for a minute. When the first GT350 hit the streets in 1965, no one could have possibly imagined the type of impact it would have. But let’s face it; a solid-lifter 289 equipped ponycar, pumping out 306 horsepower that’s backed by a 4-speed, with Try-Y headers and side exhaust is bound to get someone’s attention. As the years progressed, GT350’s and GT500’s were produced until 1970. During the gas crunch of the 70’s, you couldn’t give these cars away. Then, as if by magic, muscle car enthusiasts wanted them again.
Most of the 80’s were spent spelunking in barns in the Midwest and old garages back East, unearthing treasure troves of long forgotten Shelby Mustangs—some relegated to long-time grocery-getters for decades, the owners completely unaware of the heritage that resided beneath their right foot. Restoration shops sprung out of the woodworks and a whole new industry was born.
Today, a finely restored or well-kept Shelby can fetch five or six figures on the auction block. Who knew the kind of following this car would generate over the decades? I think that’s why I love the old cars so much—their value over the years developed like finding a hidden treasure that had been under your nose the entire time. From the first generation in the sixties, to its reemergence in the mid 2000’s, the Shelby name seemed to have picked up where it left off. Needless to say, the popularity of the Shelby Mustang is as high as it’s ever been, and it continues to rise!
Carroll Shelby Enterprises in Gardena, California was filled to capacity with a selection of over 200 Shelby Mustangs, Cobras, Panteras, and even a Sunbeam Tiger! It was such a good mix of not only new and old, but of Mustangs and Shelbys. Not only did you see the traditional ’65 and ’66 GT350, but there were a few super-nice K-Code Mustangs, a well-done Eleanor convertible and a pair of GT500’s still with their original owners. If you like ’67 GT500’s that DON’T look like they were in “Gone in 60 Seconds”, then there were plenty there to look at!
The new generation of Shelbys were well represented, from Shelby GT’s, to GT500’s to GT350-R’s. Inside the building were more cars, like Cobras—including an original 1965 289 with the optional hard top, still in the hands of Hank Williams (not the singer), the original owner. Hank is now 77, and his Cobra has racked up 133,000 miles, and both are still going strong. 2006 Ford GT designer, Camilo Pardo was there signing autographs, and selling Ford and Shelby-themed fine art.
Also attending was none other than Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, who brought his GT500 Super Snake drag car as well as the Top Fuel rail car he campaigned with Shelby back in ’68. The show was topped off with VP Gary Patterson unveiling the 2017 Shelby F-150 Super Snake, and 2017 Super Snake widebody. The 5th-Annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show shows no signs of slowing down, and we’re looking for next year to be even better!
Living in Richmond, Texas, PJ Rentie has been in the automotive industry for more than 30 years. This former Assistant Editor at Vette Magazine also spent time with companies like NOS, Edelbrock, Hillbank Motorsports, Classic Industries, and was an automotive instructor for Cypress College for ten years. In his spare time, PJ hopes to one day bring his Fox Body Mustang out of the back yard and back onto the street!