Thursday, July 21, 2011
This post will be divided into three sections-- Museum, Factory, Gift Shop.
The Shelby museum and factory are located between the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Interstate 15, just 15 miles north of the Strip.
The museum is the most interesting part of the facility, as it has 22 Shelby cars of various vintages. Here's a modern GT40.
The first thing you notice is that Shelby logos and signatures are on everything. And I mean everything.
Though most visitors made a beeline for the 60s muscle cars, I went straight for the cheesy 80s Dodges. This is the 1983 Dodge Shelby Charger Prototype.
This is the first muscle truck (predates the Ford Lightning and GMC Typhoon), the 1989 Dodge Dakota Prototype. The 5.2 liter V8 is capable of an astonishing 175 horsepower. 1,500 were built.
This bad boy, the Shelby GLHS, is my favorite.
The controversial Shelby Series 1:
Bottles of Z Max were strategically placed. Very sad.
This blue model is THE first Shelby Cobra ever. Carroll Shelby painted it a number of different colors to trick the automotive press into thinking that there was more than one car. The story is someone recently offered Carroll Shelby $23 million for this car.
Here is a Hertz edition Mustang. 500 were produced. All were automatics except six. The six went to Hertz executives.
A couple of Shelby karts.
The Las Vegas factory started life solely to produce the Shelby Series 1. After that debacle, Hertz contracted Shelby to convert 500 Mustangs into the black and gold rental cars. Now, the facility is used mostly to convert factory-fresh Mustangs into Shelby Mustangs.
The factory tours are given daily at 10:30. It lasts for an hour and the guide goes over the factory and museum. You first go into a smaller workshop where replica Cobras are made. Then you go to the larger workshop, which has 18 service bays. These bays are solely for the conversion of stock Mustangs to Shelby Mustangs. Each bay can convert up to four vehicles per day.
The group I was with had about 50 people. Surprisingly, about a third of them were from Europe and Australia. Even more surprising, nearly all of the foreign visitors own newer Shelbys.
No photos are allowed, but this video gives you a pretty good idea of what the main shop looks like.
III. Gift Shop
Not surprisingly, you can buy almost anything with a Shelby logo slapped on it. Clocks, golf bags, BBQ spatulas, beer can cozies. You name it. Even these stickers. It's kind of unsettling to realize that anyone with a Mustang can just buy one of these and slap it on their car.
It gets better (or worse). You can have Carroll Shelby sign a piece of a car (dash, glove box door, etc.) in exchange for $250 to his "foundation". If you just want a photo or piece of paper signed, you will need to make a $150 donation.
Shelby is without a doubt an American icon and automotive luminary. But the amount of goodwill he has lost over the last three decades is immeasurable. The public's willingness to still fork over thousands of dollars* for the Shelby name is a real head scratcher.
*The cheapest package you can buy is the GTS. For $9,995, you can outfit a V6 Mustang with body cladding, lower the suspension, change the exhaust, and of course, affix the exterior and interior with a myriad of Shelby badges.