Find Your Make

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
HOME | Articles index | media | use of content | contact us  
March 2009 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
The Making of Shelby Cars in Detail
By Robert McLellan
 

Longtime automotive literature collector Frank Barrett began a home-business — Toad Hall Motorbooks — selling Porsche books in 1978. In 1982 he also began editing and publishing The Star, the magazine of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America. By 2007, after 25 years with the magazine, Frank was ready for a new challenge. When Cobra-driving buddy Eddie O'Brien suggested a book on the cars in the Shelby American Collection, Frank jumped at the idea, contacted publisher David Bull, and got the green light. Shelby Cars in Detail was off to the races.

Frank's experience involved Porsche and Mercedes-Benz; he had written The Illustrated Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide, which sold over 50,000 copies. Shelby was a new topic, so he had some learning to do. His 2,000-book automotive library-assembled over 40 years — already contained most of the books on Shelby. The Collection*, in Boulder, Colorado, 35 miles from Frank's home, had a good archive covering Shelby's cars, business, and racing. The Shelby American Automobile Club kindly allowed access to its historical files. While writing, Frank spend months reviewing the SAC archives and contacting owners, race drivers, restorers, and historians.

 
In Frank Barrett's words:

"As research progressed, I realized that the best stories involved not only the cars but also the people who designed, built, and drove them. So, knowing that other books had covered the "nuts-and-bolts" and race records, I decided to focus on those people, and not all of them were well known. For example, Tommy Hitchcock III bought a race 289 Cobra days before the 1964 Sebring race and became one of the first to race a Cobra in Europe, in the Targa Florio and at the Nürburgring. After he sold the car, it was left out in the snow until two car buddies from New England bought, drove, and preserved it until the late 1990s. Meanwhile, Hitchcock had gotten involved with Timothy Leary and become a recluse. Today the car is stripped to bare aluminum, awaiting restoration, yet its colorful history earns it 'feature' status in my book.

Meanwhile, David Bull signed up a first-rate automotive photographer. Boyd Jaynes and an assistant drove from their Los Angeles base to Boulder, built a temporary studio inside the museum and spent six 12-hour days shooting 30 cars. So that they shot the right details, I had listed the unusual features of each car. Shortly afterward, the bookseller Tom Warth and I drove his 289 Cobra from Minneapolis to Austin, Texas and on the Texas 1000 tour. To me it was an experience in what it's like to live with a Cobra!

Working alone in my home office, I completed the text in early 2008, and after design and production, the book was printed in time for launch in August at the Monterey Historics. Reading the reviews was extremely rewarding, and the book was a finalist for the 2008 Dean Bachelor Award.

For me it's important to leave something behind — a trail for future enthusiasts and historians to follow. The Mercedes-Benz magazine was one way to accomplish that, and this Shelby book is another."

*The 'Collection'
The 10-year old Collection's 30 cars range from an A.C. Ace-Bristol, through about 20 historic 289 and 427 Cobras, four GT40s, and two prototype GT350s, forming a fine cross-section of pre-1968 Shelby history. Besides several street Cobras, it houses significant racers: the first Cobra race car (which was also the third one built); the first race-winning Cobra; the original Dragon Snake drag-racer; Ken Miles' personal race Cobra; one of the six Daytona Coupes, the oldest surviving GT40, and a Mk. IV driven at Le Mans by Mario Andretti. Two other unusual exhibits are the Ferrari 410 Sport that Carroll Shelby drove to a 1956 SCCA national championship and the 1963 Ford Falcon Sedan Delivery bought by designer Peter Brock and used by Shelby American as a "go-fer" vehicle.

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shelby Cars in Detail is available from Toad Hall Motorbooks (www.toadhallbook.com or 303/237-0911) or from David Bull Publishing (www.bullpublishing.com or 800/831-1758) at $149.95 plus shipping. Books ordered via Toad Hall are autographed by Frank at no charge.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, March 2009
 
 
 
 
 
Spacer
Spacer
 L I T E R A T U R E
I N D E X
Click here
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Spacer
separator
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Literature for
OVER 600 MAKES
Sales literature