Fifty years ago a Texas chicken farmer hatched the idea of dropping a V8 American lump into a little English sports car - and the rest, as they say, is automotive history.
Now Carroll Shelby is celebrating half a century of iconic muscle-cars with not one but three Anniversary Edition Shelby Mustang models.
“Few people thought Shelby American would make it in the car business for 50 years,” said he says. “We built the first Cobra in a rented garage - and painted it a different colour every time we lent it out for a photo shoot so they wouldn't know it was the only one we had!
“Then we started assembling GT350 Mustangs in an old hangar. But we're still here, making the best cars I've ever been involved with - and the next 50 years will be even better!”
The meanest Anniversary Editon Pony Car of all is the GT500 Super Snake, which will be available either as a coupé or a convertible with a choice of 480, 550 or 590kW engine tuning packs.
Based on the Ford Shelby GT500, each car will be rebuilt at the Shelby American plant with six-piston front brakes, uprated suspension, special rims, commemorative 50th anniversary badging, special interior trim and even a made-to-measure car cover.
Only 50 white and 50 black Anniversary Edition Super Snakes will be made, each with special gold stripes to commemorate the golden anniversary.
The anniversary package will begin at $59 995 (R485 000), not including the base car, which costs about the same!
Two years ago, Carroll Shelby revived the iconic GT350 name plate for a hard-revving, edgy version of the five-litre Mustang GT, with Le Mans-style racing stripes, big brakes, razor-sharp suspension and a choice of 315, 385 and 460kW engine tuning packs.
It comes either as a either as a coupé or a convertible in red, white or blue with a manual gearbox (OK Cyril, you can get an auto transmission, but only in the non-supercharged 315kW version).
And for 2012 only it'll be available in black with gold stripes; the Shelby guys will convert your 5.0 Mustang GT (order it in black, if you want the stripes) into a GT350 for $59 995 (R485 000).
Finally, there's the Shelby GTS, based on either a V6 or five-litre Mustang which you have to supply. The package starts at $19 995 (R162 000) for the V6 and includes upgraded brakes, suspension, tuning and cosmetics.
There's also a whole raft of performance options, including superchargers, limited only by how much you want to spend.