Hundreds of Rare Mustangs Gather in SoCal to Honor Carroll Shelby
L.A.’s Petersen Museum held its annual Shelby Cruise-in to celebrate what would have been the legend’s 96th birthday in style.
January 11 is Mustang performance legend Carroll Shelby’s birthday, who would have turned 96 in 2019. Alas, it’s been nearly seven years since his passing on May 10, 2012, leaving behind a legacy of speed few can touch.
The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles honors his legacy with the annual Shelby Tribute and Cruise-In, which was held January 5 and 6 this year. Over 400 rare Mustangs, Cobras, and other vehicles graced by Shelby’s vision arrived on the third floor of the museum’s parking structure to raise a toast to the tall Texan who made Mustangs awesome.
This is an unrestored 1965 427 Cobra, one of 30 built for the 1965 model year, and one of two painted in Hertz Gold. The current owner says they may restore the paint to its original color, but would leave everything else alone. This Cobra has our respect.
Speaking of Hertz, here’s an extremely clean 1966 GT350-H, the famed “rent-a-racer” built in collaboration with the rental car company for the 1966 model year. For $17 a day and 17 cents per mile, members of the Hertz Sports Car Club could take one of 1,000 GT350-Hs out for a weekend of driving to the grocery store, the auto store, and the track. The program was a hit, one Hertz and Shelby revisited in 2006 and 2016, and one Shelby paid a special tribute to with the 2019 Shelby GT-H (for “Heritage”) Edition.
And of course, anything Shelby touched was meant to be raced, like this GT350 owned by a member of the Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club. Like a few other GT350s of its time, the Mustang wears its SCCA BP class lettering with pride, and is a regular participant at the club’s track days at Willow Springs.
Then, there’s the legendary Ford GT40, the result of Ferrari turning down Ford’s offer to buy the Italian automaker out of spite. Shelby took hold of the program in 1964, turning the struggling Le Mans competitor into a Le Mans winner in 1966 and 1967. Plus, the car looks really good in Gulf Oil livery.
Shelby himself scrapped against Ferrari prior to helping Ford do the same with the Daytona Coupe in the GT class against the 250 GTO. There, he became the first American builder to win the class in 1965, while the Daytona’s legacy lives on in licensed continuation replicas by Superformance.
Here’s one of many new Shelby GT350s attending the Cruise-In, which not only looks good in its white with blue/red center stripes, but happens to have the autograph of the legend himself on its rear flanks. That’ll definitely draw more than a few eyes on a Mustang we know Shelby would approve of.
Happy Birthday, Carroll. Your legacy still lives on, and is still cherished by all who appreciate high performance.
Photos: Petersen Automotive Museum