Carroll Shelby's 95th birthday celebrated in LA

Hundreds of Mustangs, Cobras, Ford GTs and even a Sunbeam Tiger gathered at the Petersen Automotive Museum to make the birthday of the late Carroll Shelby

Carroll Hall Shelby was born January 11, 1923, and passed away May 10, 2012, meaning that were he still alive today, he’d have recently turned 95. Los Angeles’ world famous Petersen Automotive Museum, with certain of its monthly breakfast cruise ins, chooses to celebrate birthdays rather than memorials, and did so January 27, 2018, in honor of Carroll’s 95th.

These huge events fill the Petersen’s rooftop parking structure to capacity, in this case with hundreds of Mustangs (nearly all of them Shelbys) plus a plethora of Cobras. It was a joint event sponsored by the museum, Shelby American, the Shelby American Automobile Club of Los Angeles, and a few Shelby dealers. Bagels and coffee stood in for birthday cake this particular day, with the weather and the turnout both being spectacular.

Shelby and the Museum’s Founder and namesake, publishing magnate the late Robert E Petersen, were friends for 50 years. The picture above shows Petersen, on the left, with Shelby (centre) and actor Tim Allen. Mr Petersen’s magazines (including HOT ROD, Motor Trend, Sports Car Graphic, and CAR CRAFT to name only a few) often featured many of Carroll’s racing and carbuilding exploits, and Mr Petersen over time owned at least a pair of Shelby Mustangs.

Interestingly, the Museum’s permanent collection includes one of those cars, a ’69 GT350 coupe (above) that’s only had two owners: Carroll Shelby and Robert E Petersen.

Lynn 'Mr Cobra' Park was on hand with several of his cars, as were many other local Shelby owners and collectors – tribute and CSX continuation Cobras proved just as welcome as originals built back in the day.

There was also one each of the Shelby Series I and a Sunbeam Tiger on hand, but curiously none of the cars Shelby produced in partnership with Chrysler – no Shelby Dodges or Omnis. But there were several Ford GTs to further wow the crowd.

Carroll’s 100th birthday is only five years away, so we wonder what the Petersen Automotive Museum will come up with to celebrate that. It’s hard to tell, but we know we’ll be there.

Photography by Kirk Gerbracht (archive image from Matt Stone)

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