Carroll Shelby, the sole member of a rare automotive fraternity who rose to prominence as a driver, builder and owner, has died at age 89 in Dallas, Texas.
Shelby won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin in 1959 with co-driver Roy Salvadori. He also won U.S. sports-car championship titles with Ferrari and Maserati and raced in Formula 1 for two seasons.
In the 1960s, Shelby created the iconic Shelby Cobra. It dominated the racetracks of the era and defeated Ferrari for the world manufacturer's title.
Shelby lent his name and tuning expertise to existing models, most notably the Ford Mustang with the Shelby GT350 Mustang. As a modern version, the 650-horsepower V8-powered Shelby GT500 Mustang, is still available.
Shelby also presided over the Ford Le Mans wins in 1966 and '67, which completed the trio of his rare accomplishment.
According to Autoweek, "Shelby is believed to be the only person to win Le Mans as a driver (with Aston Martin), a manufacturer (class victory with the Cobra Daytona coupe) and team owner (Ford's GTs)."
Shelby has held rare status in the medical world. He was one of the nation's longest-living heart transplant recipients, having received a heart on June 7, 1990, from a 34-year-old man who died of an aneurysm.
Shelby also received a kidney transplant in 1996 from his son, Michael.
''What made him so unusual is he developed, literally, hundreds of cars,'' said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company. ''This guy was 89 years old and he was still developing cars.''
Article Last Updated: May 11, 2012.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
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An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.