Editor’s note: This article from April 2, 2012, is being re-posted in memory of automotive entrepreneur Carroll Shelby, who died at age 89 on May 10, 2012.
It was at the 1962 New York Auto Show that a lanky Texas chicken rancher-turned-world-class-racing driver unveiled a lithe British-sourced roadster that he had stuffed full of small-block Ford V8. You know the rest. The Cobra was an overnight sensation on road and track, and it launched Carroll Shelby’s legendary career as a master builder of fast, capable “sport cars” and trophy-winning racers, making him an American Enzo Ferrari. In fact, Shelby’s late-1960s Ford GTs beat Ferrari three times in the grueling 24 Hours of LeMans.
By the end of 1962, Carroll had set up Shelby American, Inc., to build Cobras for sale and to develop new machines reflecting a performance philosophy that can be described as “enough is never enough.” In 1965, the company began producing a rather different animal. That would be the exciting GT350, a thorough racing-inspired upgrade of the original Ford Mustang fastback coupe. Shelby also conjured a track-ready version, the GT350R, which conspired with the Cobras to humble Chevrolet Corvettes and most other contenders (even some Ferraris) on circuits around the world. In 1968, when Ford added a big 390 V8 as a first-time Mustang option, Ol’ Shel went one better by offering a 428 mill in the first GT500.
Fast-forward to the 2012 New York Show and the debut of a very special 50th Anniversary commemorative from Las Vegas-based Shelby American, the descendant of Carroll’s original SAI. Called Shelby 1000, it’s actually the latest in the company’s long line of Mustang-based “post-title” performance packages. In this case, post-title means you first buy a new Shelby GT500 from your Ford dealer, then call SAI to arrange for its transformation into a Shelby 1000. As the name implies, this conversion is SAI’s most potent yet, delivering a Bugatti Veyron-like 1000 horsepower—more or less. The actual count is estimated at “only” 950 for the “base” street-legal package, but there’s also a track-only edition called 1000 S/C that is rated at just over 1100 ponies. Yee-HAH!
Though hardly cheap, the Shelby 1000 costs a fifth as much as the storied million-dollar Veyron. The street-legal package lists for just $5 shy of $150k. Add in the price of the donor car and you’re looking at a minimum $204,990 for a finished coupe, $209,990 for a convertible. The racing kit runs $5,000 more. As steep as that is by traditional Mustang and even Shelby standards, it buys a totally reengineered supercharged V8, downsized to its 5.4-liter pre-2013 displacement, plus a host of chassis and structural upgrades. You also get some unique but subtle styling touches, including a reshaped hood and other aerodynamic enhancements in line with a planned top speed of 200 mph. That’s right: 200 mph.
SAI says Shelby 1000 production will be limited to about 1,000 units. Though both packages are still being finalized, the company says orders will be accepted after the New York reveal. First deliveries are likely before the end of the year.
How quick is it? No one knows yet, but it’s interesting to note that the Veyron does 0-60 mph in about 3 seconds, and it’s a heavier car with all-wheel drive.
Our friends at Road & Track report that Carroll Shelby himself “is responsible for the 1000, and he says he’s been much more involved with the development of this tractable 200-mph Mustang than with his company’s other recent creations.” That’s remarkable, considering that the great man is now 89 years young and the survivor of both heart and kidney transplants.
We wish he’d bottle whatever it is that keeps him going. Until then, we’ll have to be content with the fastest and most fiery production Mustang in history. Congratulations on outdoing yourself again, Mr. Shelby. And happy birthday, Shelby American.