Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Shelby's car company woes... after 1999

After the initial hype about an all-new Shelby died down, magazines of the day grew impatient when denied access to prototypes for testing. When Road and Track was granted access to a Series 1 for review, it declared the car too unfinished to test, saying that readers wouldn’t want to hear what the magazine would have to write about it.

Over at Car and Driver, Brock Yates was less kind, savaging the Series 1 when two separate prototypes failed during attempted testing.

 Despite the drop in performance and delays to market, the price of the Series 1 climbed almost unchecked.

When Motor Trend successfully tested a prototype in November 1998 (posting a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds and a quarter-mile run of 12.8 seconds at 110 mph), the price had risen to $108,000, but this would later climb to $135,000, then $165,000, and then $175,000.

For that money, buyers received a car that borrowed seats, switchgear, HVAC controls, and an audio system from the GM corporate parts bin, which probably didn’t sit well with those who’d put down (sizeable) deposits sight unseen.

It was powered by a 4.0-liter Oldsmobile Aurora and rated at 320 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque.

The Series 1 received a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards certificate for the 1999 model year, and production began. These rules were revised for 2000, so instead of going through the expense of redesigning the car for compliance and re-certifying it, Shelby kept producing the Series 1 into the ’00s as a 1999 model.

During the car’s production run, Shelby American was sold to the Venture Corporation, which itself went out of business in 2004.

Under the name Shelby Automobiles, Inc., Carroll Shelby was able to repurchase the remains of his former company for a fraction of the original selling price.

 Unable to continue building the Series 1 as a turnkey automobile, Shelby sold continuation cars (with seven-digit VINs instead of the original 17-digit numbers) without drivelines, employing the same tactic used to sell continuation Cobras. As late as 2005, buyers could still procure a “new” Shelby Series 1, as long as they were willing to install the engine and transaxle themselves.


  1. Anonymous3:59 PM

    Sometimes I wonder if the only people who have ever driven a Series 1 are automotive journalists and the guys who load and unload them from the car haulers at Barrett Jackson. You see Series 1's with double or triple digit odometer readings for sale, then a year later for sale again, and it seems their only purpose is to be a Shelby status symbol, and that the brand was of more value and significance than the vehicle itself.

    1. I've only come across 2 in person, ever, that I can recall, and have posted.

      I agree though, most people aren't buying that piece of trash for use, they looked at it as most things with the word Shelby on it, as an investment. I hope they suffered for supporting such a POS and enabling Carroll's dementia that anything as horrible as that deserved his legacy's broad appeal. Worst thing I believe he ever endorsed, even worse than the Pit Stop

    2. Anonymous1:07 PM

      Oh yeah I'd forgotten about Pit Stop. I was thinking the low point was the Shelby Daytona, but the Series 1 has them all beat.