Carroll Hall Shelby, credited with the Shelby Cobra and numerous powered-up adaptions of Ford and Dodge cars, died last night at the age of 89 after being hospitalized for pneumonia. After starting out as a chicken farmer and part-time auto racer, he became a full time racer in the 1950s. The AC Cobra, which debuted in 1962, used a Ford V8 engine, providing far more power than most cars of its kind; he also sold small Ford V8s to Rootes in 1964 for their LeMans Sunbeam Tigers, though the engines all failed at the race.
When Lee Iacocca went to Chrysler, he carried his relationship with Shelby with him, resulting in numerous “hot-rodded” cars powered by various 2.2 liter engines. He later returned to working with Ford, particularly on Mustangs. He said late in life that only a few of the projects he tried turned a profit, though it was enough to keep Shelby America operating. Shelby was reportedly involved in the creation of the Viper as well, and test drove one of the originals from 0-100-0 despite having recently had heart surgery. He also drove the Viper at the 1991 Indy 500.