Race and performance car legend Carroll Shelby has died

Carroll Shelby has died aged 89.

Although Shelby is best known by car fans for the Shelby Cobra and Shelby Mustang, he enjoyed several prolific careers, including chicken farming, racing cars, running race teams, operating a safari tour firm and, of course, tuning high performance cars.

Shelby initially tried chicken farming as a career, but after he failed to make money he tried his hand at racing. His domestic success in the 1950s earned him international recognition.

He started eight F1 races, taking a best finish of fourth in the 1958 Italian Grand Prix, and his reputation was cemented when he won the 24-hour Le Mans race with team-mate Ray Salvadori in 1959.

A serious heart condition curtailed his career behind the wheel soon afterwards, but led him into further successful careers running race teams and working on performance cars. Among the racing highlights was his role in helping develop the Le Mans winning Ford GT40.

The Shelby Cobra for which he is perhaps most famous, used a AC 260 roadster chassis and Ford engine, and was hailed as the fastest production model ever made when it was displayed at the New York motor show in 1962.

He continued to work with Ford until 1970, lending his name to several high performance Mustangs, before a hiatus sparked by the 1970s fuel crisis (and subsequent loss of interest among car makers and the public in high performance cars) led him to move to Africa and run a safari company.

He then returned to the US, using his expertise on a wide variety of Chrysler and GM cars. before reuniting with Ford in 2001. As recently as this year's New York motor show a 1100bhp Ford Mustang was revealed bearing his tuning company's name.

Although suffering from heart problems as in the 1950s, he eventually had a heart transplant in 1990 - and was further hailed for his medical stamina, as one of the longest surviving people to have undergone the procedure.

Shelby is survived by his wife and three children.

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