Unearthed: 1999/2005 Shelby Series 1


Another example of why Carroll Shelby was truly one of a kind.

In the wake of Carroll Shelby's passing last week, here in the CarBuzz office we've been discussing all of the wonderful cars that he worked on or was involved with in some way throughout his long career. The discussion soon led to the Shelby Series 1, a car that's often times forgotten amongst the great man's vast catalogue of high-performance machines. Although it's not as famous as those original Cobras and Mustangs, it certainly has all of the necessary traits that make it a true Shelby.

Penned and produced by his company, Shelby American, the Series 1 was the only car designed and engineered from scratch by Shelby. All other cars were originally done by larger automakers and Shelby simply made them even better. The Series 1's engine came courtesy of the Oldsmobile Aurora's normally-aspirated 4.0-liter V8 with 320hp and 290lb-ft of torque. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a ZF six-speed manual. Performance numbers were also quite respectable, with a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph, making it faster than the old 427 Shelby Cobra.

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Supercharged versions were given larger brakes and a heavy duty clutch in order to handle the extra power, which totaled nearly 600hp and 530lb-ft of torque. Shelby opted to go with the GM V8 due to its then state-of-the-art technology and high power-to-weight ratio. It was mounted behind the front axle and covered with a carbon fiber shroud. The car also had a dual wishbone suspension and the chassis was constructed from formed 6061 aluminum. In order to achieve maximum strength throughout, the chassis was welded together and then post-heat-treated.

Engineers then bonded custom designed aluminum honeycomb panels into the floor boards and rocker panels for further stiffness and added structure. In an effort to commemorate the past, the car's bodywork and two-seat roadster layout was specifically designed to be reminiscent of the original Cobras, but with modern styling. A lot of attention was given to the body to not only make it look good, but also to help with aerodynamics and performance. Evidence of this can be found with the covered front headlights, the sculpted gills on the sides, and the fully functional heat extractor on the hood.

Unlike those original Cobras which had aluminum body panels made from English wheeling machines, the Series 1 had panels made from carbon fiber and fiberglass laminate. As we continued discussing Shelby and his cars, we happened to find this 1999 Series 1 up for sale at RK Motors in Charlotte, North Carolina. What's interesting about it is that it's a part of the CSX5000 series, which were built in 2005. The reason being is that in 1999 the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards certificate expired for the Series 1 and the cost of recertification was very expensive. As a result, cars built after a certain date came without an engine or transmission.

This car is number CSX5004 and the dealer claims it has the "same astounding build quality and finish work as well as identical performance (as the original 249 units) simply with fewer years on the chassis." With just 440 miles on the odometer, it's being sold for $129,900. Any true and wealthy Shelby fan should take notice. And thanks again to Carroll Shelby for everything. He'll be sorely missed by everyone.

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