Auction Pick of the Week: 1999 Shelby Series 1
It was one of the final projects of Carroll Shelby’s long and illustrious career, and the legend still had something to prove: He wanted to design and build his own sports car from scratch, something he’d never really done. He had always modified cars, including the Cobra, but this time, he wanted the final say over everything.
That would be the Shelby Series 1. It debuted in 1997 at the Detroit auto show. Well, the body did – an unsolicited peek under the bodywork showed the chassis was built from wooden 2x4s. But Shelby said to expect the best of everything. “Steve, I’m doing this car right,” he told me at the Detroit show.
The fight to bring the Series 1 to fruition was a challenge for Shelby, but he got it done. You can see the result here, as our Hagerty Marketplace auction pick of the week.
Shelby not only got it done, he did it in sophisticated style. The frame is all-aluminum, and the standard engine was a 4.0-liter DOHC Oldsmobile V-8, with 320 horsepower. But the car in the Marketplace auction has the rare, optional ($22,000) supercharger, upping the horsepower to a potent 450.
The relatively compact engine was set back as far as Shelby could manage, resulting in an almost unheard-of, and very desirable, 49/51 front-rear weight percentage for a front-engine car.
Perhaps the biggest challenge Shelby faced was the loss of the eminently quotable John Rock, the head of Oldsmobile, and the man who green-lit the partnership with Shelby. Engineering and design on the car were just getting underway when Rock was forced out by GM head Ron Zarrella in September of 1996. It slowed the development of Shelby’s car, and it was finally introduced for the 1999 model year. All 249 Shelby Series 1s are 1999 models, and all were built in Shelby’s shop in Nevada.
In the end, Shelby got the majority of what he wanted. As evidenced by the Marketplace auction model—one of one with yellow paint, a black convertible top, and black stripes—the car has that extruded aluminum chassis construction with a carbon fiber and fiberglass laminate body, with carbon fiber trim in the interior. The transmission is a proven ZF six-speed manual.