Carroll Shelby: The Grandaddy of Branding

The recent passing of automotive legend Carroll Shelby is a milestone not only in automotive history but in today’s very trendy concept of “Branding!”

Shelby careened into auto racing off a failed chicken farming venture in East Texas — never changing his striped bib overalls — with victories in the United States and then Europe, where in 1959 Shelby became only the second American to win the 24 Hours of Lemans.

In 1962’s Shelby became the leading brand name in the exploding hot-rodder scene with the Shelby Cobra — a 300 horsepower V8 British AC roadster. The car even inspired a summer pop radio anthem “Hey Little Cobra” by the Rip Chords.

For Ford, Shelby gave new Mustang pony car street performance cred, effectively launching the muscle car era, with the Shelby GT Mustang Series and the GT40 that swept Lemans thru the late 60’s.

The Shelby brand went on to bolster a Chrysler comeback, creating the Viper, and GMs Oldsmobile had Shelby DNA for a time. Then there’s fancy Shelby Wheels, Carroll Shelby’s: Original Texas Brand Chili Mix, Hertz Shelby Rent A Racecar and the recently announced David Yurman limited edition Shelby 1000 timepiece priced at $149,000.

Carroll Shelby: The Grandaddy of Branding!