Written by Nicole Ellan James
When you hear the name “Carroll Shelby,” Mustangs and Cobras often come to mind. For super enthusiasts, images of the Daytona Coupe or GT40 might be conjured up, or perhaps one of the Chrysler vehicles he worked with like the Shelby Charger. Arguably the most elusive Shelby branded vehicles, however, are the ones he created late in his career — the Shelby Series 1.
Carroll Shelby only made 249 Series 1 cars for the 1999 model year. Each vehicle is built on an extruded aluminum chassis with a 130-pound carbon fiber and fiberglass laminate body. One striking design feature was the air tunnel that pulled cooling air through the grille and out the center of the hood. The total weight of the package is a sports-car-trim 2,650 pounds.
Powered by an Oldsmobile Aurora 4.0-liter V8 and mated to a 6-speed manual transaxle from a Corvette, these “lightweights” were designed with speed in mind. Handling was excellent thanks to the double-wishbone suspension using adjustable coilover shocks. With 320 horsepower available, the Series 1 hit 60 mph in 4.4-seconds, but rest assured, Shelby pushed for more.
Of the 249 built, only 30 cars including car No. 09 (Lot #721) and car No. 54 (Lot #699), were promptly returned to Shelby American in Las Vegas to receive a $22,000 Vortech supercharger upgrade. Along with the supercharger, Shelby American also upgraded the cars with a heavy-duty clutch. These changes increased the horsepower to 500 at the rear wheels and allowed the supercharged Shelby Series 1s to hit 60 mph from a standstill in a tick over 3 seconds.
Lot #721 – car No. 09, which is selling with No Reserve at the upcoming Las Vegas auction has a two-owner history and 950 actual miles. The low production number gives it additional appeal. All of the paperwork has been preserved from the time of deposit through the delivery, including documents related to the supercharger installation by Shelby American.
Both Series 1s are finished in Centennial Silver with Maroon stripes and Lot #699 – car No. 54 (above and at right), also selling with No Reserve in Las Vegas, features charcoal and gray leather interior with a serialized dash plaque and Monsoon radio. Its black canvas top folds neatly into a flip-up rear cowling that curves along the interior seats.
No. 54 rolls on 3-piece 18-inch five-spoke wheels with Shelby center caps, wrapped with Goodyear Eagle F1 Super-Car tires.
Lot #699 – car No. 54 has 1,820 miles and was featured at The Quail car show in Monterey, California, Goodguys Car Shows, and Carroll Shelby’s Tribute right after his death in June 2012.
Original documents plus letters from Shelby to the original buyer, Shelby Registry documents, a Carroll Shelby autographed photo of the car, the Snake Bit book, a Series 1 car cover, and his-and-hers matching Series 1 leather jackets are included in the sale of car No. 54.
Each of these 1999 Shelby Series 1 convertibles will experience a homecoming when they return to their birth city of Las Vegas and cross the block during the 2022 Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas Auction, June 30 – July 2, at the West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.