Q&A: Carroll Shelby

Dave Kinney

Chicken farmer, racing-car driver, auto manufacturer, chili impresario--your life has been full of twists and turns . . .

I'm having fun. Thank God I'm not an engineer; then I'd have to play by the rules! I pick the best people and work with them. I'm very thankful. I'm eighty-four years old; I've been at the top, and I've been at the bottom. I was out of the car business for almost thirty years. I could tell that real cars were going away back in 1966. But now we're back in the performance business. These [new] cars are so superior to the ones we sold in the '60s. Those cars could only go in a straight line; these cars can do anything.

Why are you building the Shelby GT500KR [King of the Road], and why now?

You know, these things are really helping the dealers. We're building a thousand of them, all with 540 horsepower. The dealers can sell them for over list. They can make lots of money. That makes for happy dealers.

You have outlasted generations--and several administrations--of leadership at Ford. How does that feel?

[Laughs.] I never thought of it that way! Damn, I think you're right! I'll have to bring that up to some of those pissant forty-five-year-olds up there!


What's the one question that no one has ever asked that you wish someone would?

You know, I don't know. I've been asked 'em all. But thanks for not asking the question that everyone else does: "How did you come up with the idea for the Cobra?" I'll bet I answered that one a thousand times. [The legend is that the car's name came to him in a dream--Ed.]

What do you think is your legacy? What's important to you?

That's easy: helping kids. The Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation gives medical and educational assistance to underprivileged kids. That's the most important legacy.

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