Since the 2012 passing of Carroll Shelby, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California, has hosted an annual Shelby Cruise-In that celebrates his January 11th, 1923 birthday. He would have been 94 this year, but the love for the cars bearing his name along with all kinds of other Mustangs and Fords will live on for eternity.
The 2017 event happened earlier this month in the museum parking garage, and there were plenty of Shelbys of all stripes, and of both the late-model and vintage variety. This included all our favorite S197 models and the GT500s, as well as thelatest S550 GT350 and GT350R models.
The gathering is also put on in part by Superformance and Hillbank Motorsports and both are very involved in keeping the Shelby name prominent–through various tribute and Shelby-licensed cars, trucks and parts that are on the market.
Whether you are looking at our coverage on FordNXT or Ford Muscle, you will want to check out both the late-model and vintage cars in our gallery; because both are equally spectacular for a number of reasons.
For the early side, it’s easy to point out the significance of such cars as the first 1965 GT350s that began the whole Shelby craze more than 50 years ago. In the early-to-mid 1970s when Shelbys were all the rage, people bought these 1960s-era GT350s for practically nothing–and we know of one example that was acquired for less than $1,000! (the figure was $900 to be exact). Today, these first-ever GT350s now change hands for upwards of a quarter-million; and standing offers on some 1965 GT350s are at the $300k figure. Not a bad return on investment, eh?
As far as the late-model side of the ledger is concerned, what Shelby/Mustang/Ford enthusiast wouldn’t be enticed by cars such as the 2013-2014 GT500s with their 5.8-liter Trinity modular engines, making 662 horsepower? Today, that number still stands as the highest-output figure from any production Ford engine. And the S550 GT350’s 5.2-liter Voodoo engine’s 526-horsepower figure stands as the most power produced by a naturally-aspirated Ford engine.
So as you can see, Shelby Mustangs of all kinds are awesome for many different reasons. And this now-annual Shelby birthday celebration is a great way to take all these attributes in. And as our gallery also shows, there are all kinds of other Mustangs and other Ford cars that gathered for the event. If you happen to be in the SoCal area next year, it will be something you won’t want to miss in January of 2018.
As you can see, the first annual Carroll Shelby Birthday Cruise-In had a great turnout.
As we mentioned, these are the two current top-of-heap late-model Shelbys. At left is an S550 GT350 and the gray S197 is a king-of-the-hill 662-horsepower GT500. Which would you choose?
Another S550 GT350 adorns the parking lot of The Petersen Automotive Museum. Behind it is a 1966 Fairlane 500 two-door hardtop. These ’66-’67 Fairlanes are a favorite of ours, and this Antique Bronze example has a hot 306 cubic-inch small-block V8, and happens to belong to your humble scribe.
As we’ve said, you don’t have to own a Shelby to celebrate the man’s birthday. This 1968 Mustang GT fastback sports a S-Code 390 cubic-inch FE V8, and is one of 6,016 1968 fastbacks so-equipped.
This pair of LASAAC-member vintage Shelbys includes Joe Risk’s 1967 GT500 (left) and Manny Samaniego’s 1966 GT350 (right).