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|Carroll Shelby's large (about) 6'2" frame - with dress hat - fit quite nicely inside the new Ford GT. Photo copyright Robert Gardner
Shelby and Ford are back at it. It’s been a while, but at Pebble Beach on August 15th, before all the events on the Monterey Peninsula at which Ford celebrated its centennial, Ford announced that it was renewing its partnership with Carroll Shelby to produce some high performance automobiles.
They started when Carroll had the idea for the Cobra way back in the early 60’s, and Ford agreed to be the engine supplier and help support Shelby’s project. They ended as Shelby oversaw much of the GT40 racing program. In the meantime, the F.I.A. Manufacturer’s World Championship in sports car racing had been won by the drivers of Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupes, that being the first championship won by an American manufacturer. And Ford took home a handful of Le Mans victories with their GT40s. Meanwhile the Ford-powered Cobras dominated tracks in America and Europe. It was a very fruitful relationship.
|Chris Theodore makes a grand entrance in this hot new ride. This is definitely the fastest way to get around the Pebble Beach golf course... Photo copyright Robert Gardner
So at about a quarter to nine, after joining as for the breakfast he provided, Ford’s vice president of Advanced Product Creation, Chris Theodore, rolled up in one of the three new Ford GT’s that were brought to Monterey (by the way, at the Christie’s auction after the Pebble Beach Concours, they auctioned off the first GT for some $557,000!). The Ford GT marks the beginning of new line of performance products to come from Ford. And Mr. Theodore did say “vehicles.”
|Carroll Shelby, standing in front of one of his five-hundred horsepower "kids," talks about his renewed partnership with Ford as Chris Theodore stands by. They talked about doing some un-named high performance vehicles they would do together, while standing in front of that huge Mustang poster...hmm. Photo copyright Robert Gardner.
We know that since Shelby is involved, we will certainly be very pleased with what we see coming from Ford in the next several months. Mr. Theodore of course could not tell us exactly what vehicles we should see from this new renewed Ford-Shelby partnership, but he did say that “it won’t be too hard to figure out; just use your imagination” as he turned and looked at a huge poster of Shelby Mustangs which was erected behind himself and Carroll. So, we can only make a very good educated guess, but it looks like will be seeing a new Shelby Mustang from Ford soon! And since the Mustang Cobra already sports a smokin’ 390 horsepower V8, you bet the Shelby version will be damn fast. If a Mustang is what they plan to have Shelby working on.
But Chris said vehicles. So what other cars do we think Shelby will help Ford design? Well, some of you may remember a time in the 80’s when Mr. Shelby worked with Dodge to produce the G.L.H. (Goes Like Hell), a sporty four-door with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Thus, since the Focus is one of the top selling vehicles in the world and Mr. Shelby has had experience working on a smaller, less powerful car than a Mustang, we at MSC think Ford and Shelby will unleash a hot new Focus on the young automotive enthusiast crowd. Perhaps a 300hp, 300lb-ft hot-rod in which new college grads such as myself can leave black streaks all the way from home to work and back? Okay, maybe not quite that, but I know Shelby won’t disappoint.
Further, Mr. Theodore convinced us that we should expect more than just two vehicles from this cooperative. So three, four vehicles? What else could they do? Well Ford already introduced its new Lightning Concept at the Detroit show earlier this year, they have the Harley Davidson edition of the F-150, and Mr. Shelby has only worked on one hot truck. Ford has, however, offered a sporty version of its Taurus, the S.H.O. (Super High Output). And the high performance sedan market is growing rapidly, as even Cadillac dropped the Corvette Z06’s block into their CTS and sharpened handling, so we foresee a Shelby Futura or 500 that will be a serious contender in that performance sedan niche.
And we don’t see any flying minivans propelling soccer moms to practice at light speed bearing Carroll’s signature, so if there is to be some other Shelby-Ford product, it would have to be a 2-door that fits between the projected Shelby Mustang and either the Focus (though less likely because that’s about where the V-6 and GT Mustangs fit) or the supercar GT – something with a larger production run than the GT’s approximately 450, and more at the level of the 911 Carrera than the Turbo….
We are very excited. Ford couldn’t have picked a better vehicle with which to celebrate its hundredth anniversary than the GT. It is as awesome in person as in pictures. The interior is roomy and the aluminum transmission tunnel gives it an especially clean, strong, solid appearance. The exhaust note is beautifully American, and the supercharger that helps put out those 500 ponies plays soothsayer to the thrills this car will serve you (look for more on the GT here on MSC later). This is the perfect flagship for Ford’s fresh focus on performance.
And we anxiously await any sight or sound of the latest Shelby product.
Look for more coverage of the huge automotive celebration in Monterey, including Concorso Italiano, Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the Monterey Historic Races and more, here at www.motorsportscenter.com