ford gt40

MCHOF’23: Shelby American Makes Everything Faster, Better, Badder

Caroll Shelby was one of those mythical creatures of the automotive world. It’s hard to say what he is best remembered as… a driver, a designer, an engineer, or a marketing genius. Just having his name on your car probably makes it faster. For that kind of wide appeal, Shelby American is the Model Car Hall of Fame’s Automotive Brand of the Year for 2023.

shelby cobra

Shelby was involved mostly in endurance racing early in his career and was heavily involved in the engineering of his cars. In fact, he was so good at that part, that he veered into performance engineering as his specialty. And while he could build a great car from scratch, his real talent was taking a car with a lot of potential and filling it with a lot of oomph. Who else could have looked at the slim, slow AC Ace roadster and envisioned a monster power upgrade, wiiiiiide fender flares, and a speedster windshield? Thus was born the Cobra.

shelby bumper sticker

He worked the same magic on the Ford Mustang, igniting the pony car wars of the 60s. Heck, he even made the humble Dodge Omin into a hot hatch!

caroll shelbyFrom the model car world, his best-known contributions have been the source of so much diecast. How many Ford GT40s, Shelby Mustangs, or Cobra models do you own in different scales?

If you’re ever in Boulder, Colorado on a Saturday, you must check out the Shelby American Collection museum. Legend has it a bunch of Colorado car collectors decided it would be more fun for their very rare cars to be on public display instead of hidden away in garages, so they put together a museum. Shelby himself was so impressed he gave it his blessing and appeared at multiple events as fundraisers for heart-related charities. Caroll suffered from heart ailments since his childhood, so this was kind of a big thing for him.

For their contributions to automotive culture from full-size to miniature, Shelby American is the MCHOF Automotive Brand of the Year for 2023.