Ponder the cars of Carroll Shelby, and it’s highly likely some sort of Ford Mustang will spring to mind, or perhaps the AC Cobra. The one and only car the automotive icon designed and built from the ground up, on the other hand - the Shelby Series 1 - isn’t exactly a household name.
Perhaps that’s because the car itself has to compete with the drama of its back-story. The Series 1, intended to be a modern interpretation of the legendary Cobra, had an expensive and drawn-out development period, and although the intention was to make 500, only 249 were completed.
The finished product had plenty going for it, though. The platform was based around two aluminium extrusions, and the bodywork made from carbon fibre. The 4.0-litre, Oldsmobile-sourced V8 was mounted far back in the Series 1’s curvy flanks, making for a front-mid layout. Just in front of the block are inboard-mounted pushrod dampers, and there are also double wishbones front and rear.
Styling-wise, the nods to the Cobra are clear, but there’s also a very welcome Marcos vibe to it. A folding fabric roof was fitted to most models, although a few were sold without.
The V8 is good for 325bhp as standard, making for a 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 170mph. Shelby American also offered a (rarely fitted) supercharger option complete with a beefier clutch and larger brakes to better deal with the 450bhp output.
Full production of the car wound up in 1999, with some sold between 2000 and 2005 in component form. Thus far, there’s been no follow-up. Mirroring the difficult birth of the Series I, talk of a Series II has rumbled on for years and there have even been a handful of prototypes.
Whether the Series II will get any further than that remains to be seen, so for now, the Series I is your only fully-fledged Shelby sports car option. This example is one of the last to be built - number 238 of 249. It’s been used sparingly, showing a mere 2679 miles on the clock. It’ll be auctioned at RM Sotheby’s Elkhart Collection sale in October with no reserve. Expect it to go for somewhere in the region of $100,000.