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Shelby brings back ‘Shelby American' name for performance-car business

Tue, 15 Dec 2009

Carroll Shelby's performance-car business is returning to its roots.

Shelby Automobiles is changing its name to Shelby American--the original banner used by his sports-car business and the historic Le Mans-winning cars in the 1960s.

Shelby says the switch is in honor of the 45th anniversary of two of his most famous cars, the 427 Cobra and the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. The company says fans have clamored for the return of the name for years.

“Enthusiasts have asked us many times to bring back the Shelby American name over the past several years,” Carroll Shelby said in a statement. “Though I'm proud of the cars that we built as Shelby Automobiles, we're fulfilling that wish for fans worldwide.

“Using the Shelby American name will better connect our current vehicles to our heritage of building great cars like the GT350 and Cobra.”

One of the crowning moments for Shelby American--and Ford--came at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours. Shelby-entered GT40s took the top two places, and Ford swept the podium. Shown here, Bruce McLaren crosses the finish line, followed by Ken Miles in the No. 1 Ford.

Shelby American traces its roots to 1962, when Carroll Shelby founded the company to make sports cars after his own racing career--which included a win at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans--was cut short because of a heart problem.

The company found fame in the 1960s with the 289 and 427 Cobras, as well as a slew of custom Mustangs. Shelby was tapped to lead the team of racers that beat Ferrari in the historic 1966 and 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Shelby American is a division of Carroll Shelby International Inc. The modern version of Shelby Auto was formed in Dec. 2003.

By Greg Migliore