Automotive enthusiasts descend on Plano
Photo courtesty of TXActionPhoto.com
: More than 100 Shelby Cobras and Mustangs were on hand Saturday at a car show at LegacyTexas Bank in Plano.
The growl of big and small block engines roared across west Plano Saturday morning as the owners of more than 100 Shelby cars revved their engines in a tribute to the late Carroll Shelby, who died in May.
The event drew thousands of car enthusiasts and was one of only 13 nationwide to honor the 50th anniversary of Shelby American, the company formed by Carroll Shelby to build Shelby Cobras and Shelby Mustangs. Several generations of the Shelby family were in attendance, but even those not related to the automotive industry legend said they felt a kinship with him through his automobiles.
Many of the cars on display at LegacyTexas Bank were owned by members of the Shelby Cobra Association of Texas, which has partnered with the bank for the past three years to put on a Shelby-themed car show. While participation and attendance has grown each year, club president Don Arnold said this year's event was the biggest yet because of Shelby American's 50th anniversary and the recent death of Carroll Shelby.
"We started in 1990 when a group of car enthusiasts and Shelby owners met at the old Fender's drive in on Northwest Highway," said Arnold, whose 2008 Barrett-Jackson Shelby GT was on display at the show. "We had our first meeting there and developed the club. We started small but have grown since then. We have about 90 members today, a number that has remained fairly consistent over the past few years."
While Arnold was driving a newer model Shelby, many of the cars at the show were classic 60s models, including cars owned by Dave Eurich and Joe Valentino. The pair have been friends for more than a decade, but it was pure coincidence that the 1966 GT350's they own came off the assembly line with consecutive VIN numbers.
"These cars are GT350H models, which means they were made for Hertz as rental cars in 1966," said Eurich, a Southlake resident who purchased his Shelby in 2003. "Shelby did 1,000 cars for Hertz and they put them at different airports across the United States. At the time, it cost $17 a day and 17 cents a mile to rent them. I drive the car all the time; it is definitely not a trailer car."
Valentino, a Grapevine resident, bought his car in 1998 from a collector in California. A longtime Mustang collector, Valentino said this car was too good to pass up. It was not until Eurich bought his car that the two friends noticed the cars were very similar, he said, and then noticed they came off the line one after the other.
Shelby American President John Luft said Carroll would have been proud to see the turnout at Saturday's event. He said Carroll always remained humble and was surprised that his simple decision to put a bigger engine in a small, early 1960s Cobra spurned the growth of an entire industry.
"The tour is a celebration of a company that 50 years ago really started the high performance business," Luft said. "Carroll Shelby pulled the cover off a car called the Cobra 50 years ago, and it really started the tsunami of high-performance cars. To celebrate the 50 years of Shelby American we have developed some very special, limited edition products. The tour will allow people across the nation to come celebrate with us."
Luft and a group from the company's Las Vegas factory brought several of the 50th Anniversary cars with them, including a 750-horsepower GT500 Super Snake and a Shelby 1000, a brand new design which features 1,000 horsepower and a top speed in excess of 200 mph. Luft said Carroll always wanted a 1,000-horsepower car and was able to ride in the Shelby 1000 before his death, thereby completing a life-long dream. As far as what is next for Luft, he said that bigger is always better.
"We have a track version of the Shelby 1000 that is 1,200 horsepower," he said. "Just when you think 800 or 1,000 horsepower isn't enough, you go to 1,200 horsepower. On top of that, we are excited about developing on the new Ford EcoBoost platform. Carroll said the future was about high horsepower and small footprints, and the EcoBoost is a classic example of great performance in a small footprint."
The Shelby American tour will continue throughout the rest of the year, with a final event scheduled for Barrett-Jackson's September auction in Las Vegas.