Picture: Shelby.com.

JOHANNESBURG - You might know the story already. It's 1959. Carroll Shelby is on top of the world. And why not? After all, he'd just won one of the most challenging events of them all, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

A TALE OF TWO TRIUMPHS

Shelby's victory is followed quickly by a crushing blow, the Texan is told by doctors that a heart condition will prevent him from ever racing again.

Instead of going off the rails, Shelby utilised the resources at his disposal and reinvented himself as a car designer (and salesman) working out of warehouse space in Venice Beach with a team of engineers and mechanics that included hot-tempered test driver Ken Miles.

Already a champion British race car driver, and a devoted family man, Miles is brilliant behind the wheel, but he’s also blunt, arrogant and unwilling to compromise.

At the same time, the Ford Motor Company is looking to the Italians, particularly an Italian named Enzo Ferrari. Ford at this point in its rich history had already brought mobility to the masses and was thumping competitors in sales around the world. It needed to win, and a win a Le Mans would be ideal. A variety of reports from the time suggest that as relations with Enzo Ferrari and the Ford Motor Company deteriorated, the Americans decided to just do it themselves, plotting to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans ahead of the prancing horses from Modena.

MATCH OF TITANS

After Shelby's custom race vehicles make a strong showing at Le Mans against Ferrari, the Ford Motor Company commissions Carroll Shelby to design the ultimate race car (the MK2 GT40), a machine that can beat even Ferrari on the unforgiving Circuit de la Sarthe.

Determined to succeed against overwhelming odds, Shelby, Miles and a ragtag crew battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to develop a revolutionary vehicle that will outshine every competitor in 1966, and again in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

Since those victories at Le Mans, Ford has returned with the new GT to take the class win, but more importantly, the relationship between the Ford Motor Company and Carroll Shelby will forever remain iconic.

Shelby passed away in May 2012, but his legacy lives on.

SHELBY SOUTH AFRICA

When it was announced that Ford was going to build the Mustang for right-hand drive markets, and one of those markets was going to be South Africa, Peter Lindenberg recalls the dinner that night at home. "I told my family that this is the opportunity that we can leverage to not only start a business but also still work with legendary iconic brands such as the Mustang and the Cobra," he said.

Lindenberg has always been a passionate adrenalin junkie, making a name for himself in the 1970s in the world of watersports and powerboating, but after an accident on the water, he switched to the tarmac in the early 80s and has been synonymous with local racing for the past few decades.

"After chatting to my family, I got on the phone with Jimmy Price of Hi-Tech Automotive to ask him how I could get in touch with Shelby in the USA to bring the brand to South Africa in an official capacity," he explained.

Price had already had several encounters with Carroll Shelby, which eventually ended R25 million later, once it was ruled that Hi-Tech did not infringe on Shelby's copyrights. It's a tepid tale, but it ends well.

Fast forward to the future, Price, Lindenberg and the Shelby business unit strike a deal enabling the sale of fully-fledged Shelby cars in South Africa, backed by Ford warranties, within limitations, and with all the provenance and allure that comes with Shelby's creations.

In fact, if you own an older pre-facelift right-hand-drive Mustang, you can take your car to Shelby South Africa for all sorts of upgrades from exhausts to superchargers.

The latest Mustang is also accommodated for, and you can even get your Bullitt turned into a Shelby Bullitt.

BRING YOUR WALLET

Since 2017, Shelby South Africa has been bringing kits and cars to South Africa for discerning customers that want pony cars with a bit more charisma.

Basically, if you have the financial resources, you can build the Mustang of your dreams. For instance, you can turn your stock 2.3 'Stang into a Shelby 2.3 EcoBoost GTE, which includes a Shelby exhaust system and an extensive range of styling enhancements to not only make the cars quicker and more efficient but to also ensure that they clearly stand apart from the crowd. The company also offers a similar GTE upgrade on Shelby Mustang 5.0 V8 models. If you need more grunt for your daily grind, a 500kW supercharged 5-litre V8 Shelby Mustang GTE Plus is also available, which offers a considerable jump up from the standard car’s performance.

The Shelby Super Snake raises the bar even higher through a more extrovert body kit and interior styling enhancements, along with high-performance Wilwood performance brakes. A 560kW upgrade is also available as an option on the Super Snake.

Shelby SA's spokesmen say only five South Africans have the distinction of owning a limited edition 600kW Shelby Terlingua. A tribute to the ‘67 Trans Am winning Terlingua team. This Shelby flagship gets fully-adjustable Eibach suspension, a Shelby Performance cooling pack, Brembo brakes, a short-ratio differential and a dazzling array of styling enhancements to distinguish it as the ultimate Mustang from the Shelby stable.

It's important to note that local Shelby conversions retain the standard Shelby warranty which varies across the different components, including the drivetrain warranty applicable on all models up to and including 500kW engine modifications.

Shelby upgrades in excess of 500kW carry a comprehensive, three-year/60 000km drivetrain warranty, which replaces the Ford Motor Company of South Africa drivetrain warranty and is administered through the Innovation Group via Shelby SA. FMCSA’s warranty (excluding drivetrain), which varies across the different components, remains in place. It's a bit complicated, sure, but at least they're trying to give your that 'Motorplan' peace-of-mind.

SHELBY SA TRACK DAY 2019

I spent Wednesday experiencing some of the Shelby's on offer and went for a ride in a classic Cobra Daytona. Visit the Shelby SA website if you'd like to make a booking to upgrade your Mustang.You can take a quick walk around the 2019 Shelby South Africa Track Day that took place at the Zwartkops Raceway in the video link below. You can also watch Carroll Shelby take on the Italians in Ford V Ferrari in cinemas soon:

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