February 18, 2005 Snapped recently heading from Detroit to Geneva, Carroll Shelby's GR-1 concept vehicle is possibly set to wow European audiences in the same way it has captivated Americans from the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance to the Detroit Motor Show. The entire car is polished aluminium and even the headlights are water-cooled. If Ford decides to put it into production, potential buyers can expect to pay around US$200,000 for it. This is the second concept car produced by the magical combination of Ford and Shelby - the pair fell out for a while but more than four decades after their original agreement to produce performance cars, Ford Motor Company and Carroll Shelby are back together producing exquisite production and concept cars.
The Ford Shelby GR-1 is a front-engined, two-seat, fastback based on the architecture of the Ford GT.
Shelby, a former race car driver and creator of numerous collectable performance cars returned to collaboration with Ford in the design of the 2005 Ford GT, which goes on sale this summer. Shelby worked closely with the Ford Design team and Advanced Product Creation group to develop the Ford Shelby Cobra concept car. In addition, Shelby will produce a high-performance, limited edition, Shelby Ford Expedition, for sale through select US dealers next year.
The Ford Shelby GR-1 concept is a sinewy, athletic design with a dramatic front engine proportion. The long hood blends seamlessly into the teardrop-shaped cabin while the dramatic fenders dart rearwards into curvaceous haunches thrusting the car forward and enhancing the aggressive stance and width. The car looks as if it is in motion, even when standing still. The optimized wheel arches and compact overhangs define the dramatic proportion while the sensual surfaces express the car's athletic nature.
A chiseled physique is achieved with sheer and full surfaces working together, interfacing one another in harmonious lines such as the strong shoulder line orbiting the car's form.
The front of the GR-1 is dominated by an impressive air intake aperture and air flow splitter, directing cooling air into the engine bay and wheel wells, while air vents on the top surface of the hood exhaust hot air from the radiator.
The V10 engine pushes unashamedly upwards into the hood's surface exposing prominent bulges - a potent reminder of the car's powerful performance - while air vents at the base of the front screen allow the motor to breathe. Intakes and vents perforate the body side and Kamm tail, further exhausting hot air out of the vehicle. The front corners of the GR-1 are dominated by the front wheel well and trapezoidal HISS (high intensity solid state) and LED headlamps. The distinctive Kamm tail, a strong concave section, is further defined by the bold vertical tail lights at the rear.
A visor-like side glass graphic gives a hint of the dramatic motion of the butterfly-hinged doors.
Ford worked closely with Carroll Shelby to develop the Ford Shelby Cobra concept for the 2004 North American International Auto Show. The show car was the brainchild of Ford's Advanced Product Creation Group, engineered in Michigan and designed in California, a partnership which is charged with developing future car concepts and technologies with an eye toward production possibilities. The group used the Ford GT architecture and fully engineered the Ford Shelby Cobra concept. For demonstration purposes, two chassis were ordered for the Cobra concept, but only one show car was built.
Before body panels were even created, the fully-operational running chassis was test-driven at high speeds at Ford's Dearborn Proving Ground. So pleased were Ford officials with the concept's chassis that they took the extra demonstration chassis and went to work on another concept before the Ford Shelby Cobra concept was unveiled in January. The Ford Shelby Cobra and its predecessor, the Ford GT were hits of the two previous North American International Auto Shows. The Ford Design team was challenged to follow-up with another exciting concept.
In the Irvine Advanced Design Studio, George Saridakis, a young designer, new to Ford in 2000, was known for his contributions in executing the details of some of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury's latest production and concept designs.
Saridakis created a sketch that caught the attention of the Irvine team and resonated with Mays.
"George produced this completely resolved sketch - the best I've seen in 10 years," says Mays. "When I saw it, it wasn't a matter of 'Let's do more sketches.' It was really more of a 'Let's get this into clay.'"
Remarkably, only the original sketch of the car, in three perspectives, was created. The Carroll Shelby Story Carroll Shelby didn't enter his first automobile race - a quarter-mile drag meet - until he was nearly 30 years old. But the hot rod Shelby drove to the finish line that day in 1952 was powered by a Ford V-8. More than a half-century later, Shelby is one of the most recognized names in performance car and racing history and is back in the Ford family producing concept and production performance cars and trucks.
Shelby's first Ford derivatives were the legendary Cobras and Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s. Today, he is one of the key collaborators on the "dream team" that built the 2005 Ford GT, which goes on sale this summer. Shelby was heavily involved in the design and engineering of the Ford Shelby Cobra concept car, which was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in 2004. He recently announced that his specialty car company will produce a limited edition Shelby Ford Expedition for sale through select Ford dealers next year.
Ford is stoking the passions of enthusiasts again by unveiling an all-new, all-modern Ford Shelby GR-1 concept car at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, signaling more excitement in the future for Ford and Shelby.
"Carroll's input is reflected in the performance underpinnings of this concept," says J Mays, Ford Motor Company group vice president, Design. "I see the Ford Shelby GR-1 concept as a gift to Carroll. We took the chassis he helped create and put this fantastic body on it." The Legend Begins Shelby may have started late, but he was a winner from the beginning. Just two years into his driving career, Aston Martin's racing manager, John Wyer, recruited him to co-drive a DB3 at Sebring. Within months, the chicken farmer from Texas was bumping elbows and trading paint with the likes of Juan-Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill and Paul Fr?re. He won Europe's prestigious 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans in 1959, driving an Aston Martin DBR1 with Roy Salvadori.
Early in 1962 Shelby drove his second Ford-powered race car. It was the first mockup for the Cobra, Shelby's now-legendary marriage of a lightweight British roadster body with a small-block Ford V-8. By January 1963, he had homologated the car under the FIA's GT Group III class, and that month a Cobra won its first race, beating a field of Corvette Stingrays at Riverside, California. In January 1965, Ford hired Shelby to lend his expertise to the GT40 campaign. Three cars had run the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, but none of them finished. Shelby began work on installing the more reliable 7-liter stock-car engine in what would be known later as the GT40 Mark II. It proved to be considerably faster than the Mark I, and, although 1965 was another unsuccessful year at Le Mans, GT40 had become, in just two seasons, a strong contender.
Ford and Shelby tested the GT40 Mark II extensively - both in the wind tunnel and on a special dynamometer that simulated a 48-hour run of the Le Mans circuit. At the start of the 1966 season, the GT40 began a four-year domination of endurance racing.
While Ford and Shelby took on Ferrari at Le Mans, they fought Corvette at home. The first effort was the legendary Shelby Cobra, a Ford-powered and Shelby-engineered derivative of the AC Ace. Production of the vehicle, which had a one-ton weight advantage over the Corvette, began in June 1962 and continued through March 1967. The Shelby Mustang In August 1964, Ford asked Carroll Shelby to develop a street-legal, high-performance Mustang to compete against the Corvette in SCCA B-production road racing. Shelby-American, Carroll Shelby's Californian racing shop, completed its first Mustang GT350 by September.
The 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 was a fastback production model with a functional scoop in its fiberglass hood and 306 horsepower from the 289-cubic-inch V-8 underneath - an increase of 35 horsepower over the stock Ford engine. Suspension upgrades included a larger front stabiliser bar, Koni shocks and rear traction bars and race-ready features, such as competition safety belts, a large oil-pressure gauge, tachometer and a trunk-mounted battery. It sold for US$4,000 and was instantly recognizable by its Wimbledon White paint and blue GT350 side stripes along the rocker panels.
For 1966, the GT350 was offered in white, red, black, green and blue, and Hertz purchased nearly 1,000 special 1966 GT350H weekend "rent-a-racer" models. In the 1967 model year, the Shelby Mustangs sported unique fiberglass bodywork that extended the front end with an aggressive dual scoop and finished the trunk lid with an integrated spoiler.
But most important in 1967 was the new GT500, a big-block version with 355 horsepower. More than 2,000 of those 428-cubic-inch Mustangs were delivered in the first model year.
1968 was the first year the name "Cobra" was officially used on a Shelby Mustang. That year, a convertible body style became available. Although the Shelby Cobra GT350 was essentially unchanged, later GT500s were powered by the new "Cobra Jet" 428 engine and thus became the GT500KR, for King of the Road.
For 1969, the penultimate year of the Shelby Mustang, the engine choices included the optional 351 Ram Air engine, and the bodywork incorporated a total of nine scoops - five on the hood, one at the front of each fender and one on each quarter panel.
In 1970, with sales slowing, the final Shelby Mustangs built for 1969 were updated to 1970 specifications and sold, ending the famed run.
Key Moments for Ford
Shelby Partnership January 1952: Shelby's first race driving a Ford-powered hot rod. February 1962: Tests begin on an AC 260 which would become the Shelby Cobra. March 1962: Shelby-American begins operations in Venice, California. June 1962: Cobra production begins. August 1964: Ford asks Shelby to develop a high-performance Mustang derivative. September 1964: First Shelby prototypes are built. January 1965: The 1965 Shelby GT350 is introduced. Ford hires Shelby American to oversee the GT40 program. November 1965: Hertz begins buying GT350H versions for its "rent-a-racer" program. June 1966: Ford GT40 Mark II wins Le Mans. November 1966: First 1967 Shelby GT500s are delivered. June 1967: Ford and Shelby American again win Le Mans. November 1967: 1968 Shelby Mustang convertibles debut. November 1968: 1969 model-year production begins. September 1969: Shelby Mustang production ends. February 1970: Ford and Shelby end their long-term racing agreement. March 2001: Shelby is invited to consult on GT40 concept March 2002: Ford gives green-light to production of Ford GT based on the concept April 2003: Ford invites Shelby to collaborate on a Shelby Cobra concept car January 2004: Cobra steals the show at 2004 Detroit NAIS Auto Show. January 2004: Ford asks Shelby to consult on a follow-up concept. June 2004: Shelby announces plans to build limited edition Shelby Expedition. August 2004: Ford unveils the Ford Shelby GR-1 concept at Pebble Beach.