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Friday, June 27, 2014

Carroll Shelby American Cobra Museum and Factory - Easily Ranks On My Top 10 Best Stops List

At $64,000 each - I could have bought these two Shelby Mustangs for my motor head buddies - Mark Hohmeister and Josh Gross. 

Shelby American builds Mustangs and Cobras for racers and wannabes.

In 1962 - I was in 9th grade at the Tamaqua Junior High on Broad Street - downtown. I wrote to a guy with an unusual name - Carroll. He had come up with an interesting idea - buying sport cars from England and putting small Ford V8's in them - and racing them around American beating up on Chevy Corvettes. Tamaqua was full of motor heads and their big Impalas and Mopar Dodges. It was so much fun tweaking their noses with information about these little cars that would beat anything they could put on the road.

Listen to a 1100 Horsepower Shelby Mustang GT 1000 Roar

I wrote to Carroll and he sent me a typewritten brochure listing the specifications and price of his Shelby Cobra. For just $6000 I could have one of these fire breathing little roadsters. I have kept very few things from my youth. One was a Rolling Stones ticket from a 1969 concert in Philly. The other is that piece of paper from Shelby.

Today - I had a chance to buy that car. In the museum is the very first Cobra that Shelby built. Recently they were offered $26 million cash for that car. Right there in Las Vegas - they could build me one of those roadsters for $90,000. That is just for the rolling chassis. Then they order whatever engine you want - the mildest package adds about another $30,000. So for about $120,000 you can order a brand new Shelby Cobra with a title and registration as a 1964 Ford Shelby Cobra. This is the way they have found around having to meet all the government safety regulations. The car would not have air bags - head restraints - and all the other safety features added to the law since then.  The car would also does not have air conditioning or power steering. You would need the owners manual to assemble the convertible top. The windows would slide open - they never made roll down windows. What you would get is a little 2200 pound roadster with over 400 HP that could beat almost anything on the highway - old or new.

The brand new museum and factory is down The Strip. When you get to the airport on your left - you turn right. A gleaming white building with 2 blue racing stripes presents itself. There is also a VIP limo that plies the strip offering rides to Shelby American - you just flag him down.

A friend of Carroll Shelby takes you on a 90 minute tour. He is a handsome graying motorhead in his 70s. He drives a Shelby Mustang. He talked about the car's history and certified many of the stories I read before. As he described each feature - like Carroll winning the French Grand Prix at Le Mans as a driver and team manager - I flashed back to reading those stories at the swimming pool as a kid. He described Shelby's hatred of Ferrari and how he enjoyed beating them at Le Mans 3 years in a row. In the 60s - the Ford GT40 - that Shelby built - finished that famed 24 hour race winning first - second - and third place. The cars crossed the finish line three abreast - the first time American cars won there.

Today - they build many more Mustangs for the street racing crowd. You can order a Mustang from Ford - have it shipped to Las Vegas - and then Shelby does its magic. They mainly - ad special tires - wheels - brakes - suspension - logos - seats - tuned exhaust - and engine modifications. This can add $20,000 and up to an already expensive Ford Mustang. But that is the price for being King of the Road.

It is only 3 miles from our Paris Hotel to the museum factory - the admission is free. I may end up down there one more time. Lulu went along this time just to make sure I did not buy anything. If I go again - I bet she will confiscate the credit card.

The Shelby Cobras had an all aluminum body making it light and fast.

The original Cobra has a 289 Ford V8 tweaked to 350 HP.

This 1966 427 Cobra was 1 of 4 that had an automatic transmission. This was His own personal car in his later years.

My dream car is an original "slab side" AC Bristol 289. The sports car was made win England - then Shelby monsterized it in Southern California.

In a deal with Lee Iacocca at Ford - Shelby turned the Mustang into a Corvette killer.

Shelby also worked for Chrysler building this Dodge Omni GLH - "goes like hell." This car has the exact engine in it as Lulu's 1986 Dodge 600. 

The big block 427 Ford was later shoe horned into the Cobra. That car was capable of going from 0 to 100 and back to 0 in 12 seconds! I cannot think of any reason to do that but this car could. 

Carroll Shelby was a race car driver - a team manager - a car builder - and an owner. 

This is the original 1962 Shelby AC Cobra. It is all original and they have a standing cash offer of $26 million for it. I say sell  :-)

Yes - there is a real Shelby factory and museum here in Vegas. They still make turn-key cars - with real Shelby Cobra titles. These are not replicars. They cost about $120,000 and up. 

Shelby said - there wais nothing more worthless than last year's race car. This GT 1000 Mustang has 1100 horsepower - and is the top of the heap now - at about $230,000. I would buy it next year :-)

Hereis the description of the GT 1000.

Anyone can sign the wall of fame at the factory. 

Look for our names here.

This is a full race version of the Shelby Cobra 427 - available for cash.

No one loves Mustangs more than Mark Hohmeister - we put his name on the wall of fame.

That little black 289 Cobra is on the assembly line - in another world it has my name on it. 

After the tour - and the shopping - and museum - this limo took us back to our hotel. We had it to ourselves. 

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