American swagger… the kind of conviction that makes you think “You know what that blender needs? A 500 horsepower small-block V8!” Well, in the 1960’s a bold racing driver named Carroll Shelby looked at the nimble little sports cars of AC motors in Britain and had a similar thought. This eventually gave birth to the CSX2000 (Carroll Shelby eXperimental) and Shelby was kicking ass and taking names on racetracks all over the US. With Shelby’s help soon the USA (Ford) was beating the Europeans (Ferarri) at their own game: the 24 hours of LeMans!
Shelby American, at 6755 Speedway Boulevard, near Las Vegas Motor Speedway is both a factory and a museum. Arrive by 10:15 in the morning Monday through Saturday for their free guided tour and you’ll get to see some amazing metal, and learn a few things you might not have known about the man (Carroll Shelby) and his machines. This is where the current model Shelby machines are assembled, and you’ll get to see examples of each on the showroom floor, as well as the shop where they come to life.The museum is home to the very first Cobra ever built, possibly the world’s most valuable sports car. This is the car that put Shelby on the map. It’s currently blue, but has countless coats of paint in a rainbow of colors. To find out the fascinating story behind why there are so many coats of paint on this car, you’ll have to take the guided tour.
But that’s not all. There’s Shelby cars from each of the last five decades. There’s a hand polished bare aluminum Cobra that shows every speck of dust and fingerprint. There’s an original 1966 model and a more recent 2007 model of the Shelby GT-H, a car that was built specifically as a rental car for the Hertz company. In the tour they reveal some of the lessons learned by Hertz and Shelby in this experiment renting 300+ horsepower Mustangs to the general public. As you might imagine, there were a few hiccups.They have an example of the only car Shelby designed from the wheels up, the Shelby Series 1. They even have the red-headed stepchild of the Shelby empire – a Shelby Dodge Omni GLHS (yes, that’s the 80’s econobox, and the GLH stands for Goes Like Hell!). Many of the cars are pristine, roped off, museum beauties and the tour is both educational and entertaining. For those that don’t make the tour, there are signs describing the cars on display, and there’s a timeline of Carroll Shelby history on the wall. It’s all very nicely laid out, and can be toured in about 20 minutes (the guided tour is about half an hour).
If you are even vaguely interested in cars, Carrol Shelby or American ingenuity in general then this tour is well worth the time, and the trip. Did I mention it’s free?
- If you want to buy something with the Shelby name on it, this is the place. From $15 t-shirts to $100,000 supercars, they’ll be happy to sell you your own piece of automotive history.
- Smile, you’re on webcam. There is a 24/7 webcam in the showroom. Your tour will pause to give the interwebs a wave. Better look your best!
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