I was walking home from high school one nice spring day; the weather was so great that day that I decided not to take the bus. When you are 15 years old a three mile walk home amounts to almost an afterthought, and if one is in a hurry you can always run home if you choose. It was an eventful walk for, as I was cutting through a residential neighborhood, my eyes came upon a most awesome sight. Parked in some guy’s driveway was the most macho looking car that I had ever seen. Another 50 years have passed, and the vision of that day has never been topped. Parked in the drive-way was a brand new shiny black 1963 Shelby Cobra, and I walked up to it to gawk at its awesome beauty. It was a very stark looking machine, and as I stared inside the auto my eyes met with a stark matte black metal dash filled with silver Stewart Warner gauges. The two bucket seats were jet black, with a silver steel roll cage encompassing the interior. I then noticed that there were no doors on the race car, and it was also devoid of windows. The outside mirror was chromed, as were the shiny silver wheels that were wrapped in huge, fat tires under its flared fenders. I have just described the entire sight, except for the wondrous Ford 289 power plant that was laying in wait from the driver's seat and through that flat windshield and under its long hood.
I was shaken back to reality when a voice boomed, “Hello kid, do you know what you are looking at?”
“Sure mister”, I said. “It is a Shelby Cobra. I read about it in Road and Track magazine. The title to the article said ‘Zero to 100 mph to Zero in ten seconds flat!’”
The man smiled at me and said “Catch”, and he threw the keys at me. “Let’s go for a ride”.
“I am only fifteen”, I said. “I do not have a drivers’ license yet!”
“Just kidding”, he said. “Come on, let’s go around the block and I will give you a ride home. Step right into the car, there are no doors”.
The man talked at length to me as we roared around the neighborhood and took the long way to my house. He explained that he could have purchased a 1963 Corvette for $5800, but decided instead on the Cobra for only a thousand dollars more. In retrospect both vehicles were excellent purchases, but the Cobra has trumped the Corvette in 2012 dollars. A pristine 1963 Corvette (the only year of the split window coupe) is worth about $90000 today; a prime 1963 Shelby Cobra would top the $200,000 dollar mark. He also told me that he had not read that “Road and Track” article that I had mentioned. I told him to wait a minute when he dropped me off, and I ran into my house and came back out and handed him the magazine.
“Thank you mister”, I gushed, “I will never forget that ride!”
“Thanks for the magazine kid”, he said as he roared off in that incredible machine.
I learned that Carroll Shelby passed away yesterday morning at the age of 89, and the vision of that black beauty suddenly emerged from the recesses of my memory, as did the unbelievable ride home that I received from a very nice man so long ago. I was compelled to share this story with you in deference to Mr. Shelby, and I hope that you have enjoyed it. May he rest in peace.