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Ford, Designer Shelby Team Up

August 15, 2003|From Associated Press

Ford Motor Co. will partner again with automotive legend Carroll Shelby to build high-performance vehicles, 40 years after the two first joined forces to create cars such as the highly collectible Shelby Mustang.

Shelby, the 80-year-old former race car driver and creator of numerous collectible cars, has reached an agreement to work with Ford to develop specialty performance cars with more power and better handling -- not to mention higher sticker prices -- than standard models.

Ford was scheduled to announce the deal today. The automaker said specifics, such as the number of vehicles in the new Shelby program, would be disclosed at a later date.

"Throughout my career, I've had the privilege of working with several manufacturers in the development of some great automobiles," said Shelby, who raced his first Ford-powered vehicle in 1952. "But my energy and passion for performance products has always been strongest when it involved a vehicle from Ford."

Shelby and Ford cooperated on racing and performance-vehicle programs in the 1960s, including the original Shelby Cobra, the Ford GT40 and the GT350 and GT500 Mustangs. The first Shelby Mustang debuted in 1965.

Art Spinella, president of Oregon-based CNW Marketing Research, said Shelby enjoys broad name recognition in the automotive industry.

That recognition resonates most with those 45 to 55, who probably were familiar with Shelby-designed sports cars of the 1960s, Spinella said.

"That's good news for Ford because those are the folks who have the money these days," he said. "If you're going to build an expensive performance car, Shelby is the kind of name you want to put on it."

Most recently, Shelby served as a technical advisor to the team that designed the Ford GT, a high-end speedster that goes into production next year.

The 500 hp Ford GT will feature a supercharged 5.4-liter, V-8 engine and a price tag of about $130,000. The car is modeled after the Ford GT racers that finished in the top three positions at the 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans in 1966.

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