HomeBioUnveiling the Icon: Who Is the Shelby Mustang Named After?

Unveiling the Icon: Who Is the Shelby Mustang Named After?

Car enthusiasts know the iconic Shelby Mustang. The high-performance sibling of the Ford Mustang was built by Shelby American and Ford Motor Company. But who is the Shelby Mustang named after?

This interesting post will delve into car history, share Mustang’s story, and answer who created the Shelby Mustang.

Let’s dive in!

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Who Is the Shelby Mustang Named After?

When you think of Ford, the first thing that comes to mind is Shelby. But not everyone knows who inspired the Shelby Mustang name.

So, who is Shelby Mustang named after? Shelby Mustang is named after Carroll Shelby, an iconic figure in the world of design and racing. He was an American racing driver, automotive designer, and entrepreneur.

Shelby is mostly known for his collaboration with AC Cobra and Mustang for Ford Motor Company. He was building his career for several decades and left a mark with his cutting-edge designs, successful racing career, and his collaboration with Ford Motor Company.

Car experts say companies that are still thriving even after decades of work have been collaborating with famous and experienced people. This is the case with Ford and Carroll Shelby. Although he was never Ford’s full-time employee, he was one of the most influential names in the history of Ford. 

Moreover, Shelby Mustang is one of the most famous names in the car industry. No wonder the old Shelby GT500 was featured in the movie called Gone in 60 Seconds.

Carroll Shelby’s Biography

Carroll Shelby was born in Leesburg, Texas, on January 11, 1923. His passion for cars developed at an early age, and as a teenager, he became interested in racing. 

Yet, his dreams of becoming a professional racer were put on hold when World War II broke out. So, Shelby served as a flight instructor until the end of the war.

Driving career

After the war, he followed his passion for racing and quickly became recognized as a talented driver. 

Shelby was successful during the 1950s when he participated in several national races, including Formula One. Unfortunately, his heart condition made him retire from racing in 1960.

Designing career

This was the period when Shelby started working as an automotive designer. He founded Shelby American Inc. in 1962. He aimed to create high-performance sports cars that could compete with the dominant European models of the time. 

His first project was the Shelby Cobra, a collaboration with British manufacturer AC Cars, and it became an instant success.

The collaboration with Ford

Encouraged by the success of the Cobra, Carroll Shelby approached Ford with the idea of creating a high-performance version of the Mustang. 

The goal was to be as high-performance as the popular Chevrolet Corvette. Impressed by his work, Ford agreed to collaborate. This explains the origin of the Shelby Mustang name. 

The Shelby Mustang, a Ford Mustang high-performance variant, was made by Shelby American from 1965 to 1967 and by the Ford Motor Company from 1968 to 1970. 

The first Shelby Mustang

The first Shelby Mustang, known as the Shelby GT350, was introduced in 1965. The car was an instant hit. The original Mustang was, in fact, thoroughly modified – the suspension, brakes, and engine were improved. 

What made the first Shelby Mustang unique was its design and powerful performance. The Shelby Mustang was a mighty competitor on the racetrack and the streets.

Carroll Shelby was a former racer. That made him understand the importance of marketing and branding. So, besides being involved in engineering, he influenced marketing, too. Shelby’s name and signature were displayed on each car.

The cars produced between 1965 and 1966 were the lightest and the smallest of the GT 350 models. While the 1965 GT350 was built for competition and not for easy drive or comfort, the 1966 model was comfortable for casual drivers. Among other things, it included rear seats, optional automatic transmission, and optional colors. 

This trend of luxuries continued in the following years. While cars started losing competitiveness, they became more comfortable and practical.

New Models of the Shelby Mustang

In the following years, Shelby and his team continued to perfect and enhance the Mustang models. Among the new variants, the most notable were the GT500, GT500KR (King of the Road), and the legendary Shelby GT350R.


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