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30 of Carroll Shelby's Best Ford Models Through the Years

The Street Logo By Kinsey Grant of The Street | Slide 1 of 31: Carroll Shelby is known far and wide for his iconoclastic vehicle design, unprecedented race strategy and inexplicable love of chili. But few relationships are as important in the car world than Shelby's tie-in with Ford Motor Co . Shelby was born in 1923 and spent most of his 89 years around cars until his death in 2012. Shelby's relationship with Ford started in the U.K., as automaker AC Cars was set to quit its two-seat roadster chassis, according to MotorTrend. Shelby wouldn't have it -- he wanted to use the cars for a specialty sports model he planned to build. Shelby petitioned AC Cars and promised he would find a small American-made engine to use for the two-seater if they sent him a model. A few months after AC agreed, Shelby came across the newly minted 221 Ford small-block V8. Shelby had the Ford engine in the model within eight hours of its arrival at his California warehouse. He dubbed the new model the "Cobra," a name he said came to him in a dream. Shelby's Cobra became one of the most influential cars in U.S. history and changed Ford forever. The Cobra became the basis for a decades-long series of Ford Mustangs, NASCAR pace cars and some collectibles worth millions today. Here, we take a look at Shelby's most influential relationship -- his 50-year affair with the second-largest automaker in the U.S.

30 of Carroll Shelby's Best Ford Models Through the Years

Carroll Shelby is known far and wide for his iconoclastic vehicle design, unprecedented race strategy and inexplicable love of chili. But few relationships are as important in the car world than Shelby's tie-in with Ford Motor Co.

Shelby was born in 1923 and spent most of his 89 years around cars until his death in 2012. Shelby's relationship with Ford started in the U.K., as automaker AC Cars was set to quit its two-seat roadster chassis, according to MotorTrend. Shelby wouldn't have it -- he wanted to use the cars for a specialty sports model he planned to build.

Shelby petitioned AC Cars and promised he would find a small American-made engine to use for the two-seater if they sent him a model. A few months after AC agreed, Shelby came across the newly minted 221 Ford small-block V8.

Shelby had the Ford engine in the model within eight hours of its arrival at his California warehouse. He dubbed the new model the "Cobra," a name he said came to him in a dream.

Shelby's Cobra became one of the most influential cars in U.S. history and changed Ford forever. The Cobra became the basis for a decades-long series of Ford Mustangs, NASCAR pace cars and some collectibles worth millions today.

Here, we take a look at Shelby's most influential relationship -- his 50-year affair with the second-largest automaker in the U.S.

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