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car. “

A real ass-kicker

,” as he often

said. He knew that no matter what it

was, it would be compared to the orig-

inal 427 Cobra (his albatross) but he

wanted the car to be clean-sheet-of-

paper new and worthy of his name.

During this time, Shelby was

forced to concentrate on the medical

aspects of his life. Despite his healthy

heart, he was 73 and his age was be-

ginning to show. The President and

Chief Operating Officer of Shelby’s lat-

est businesses was Don Landy, who

had represented himself as a lawyer,

but was without the credentials. He

oversaw the day-to-day operations and

one of his responsibilities was to find

ways to keep Shelby financially

healthy. This included managing

Shelby’s “Original Texas Chili” com-

pany as well as negotiating royalties

for the use of Shelby’s name, trade-

marks and copyrights (name, likeness,

logos and other properties like the

“GT350” and “GT500” names, for ex-

ample). This was more lucrative than

it sounded, as there was no shortage of

model companies wanting to make Co-

bras and Shelby Mustang scale mod-

els, and artists with posters to be

signed. Shelby’s autograph was be-

coming a very desirable thing to have.

There seemed to be no shortage of in-

dividuals and companies lining up to

use Shelby’s name or trademarks on

everything from golf carts to apparel.

Landy and Shelby spoke often and

when Shelby brought up his idea for a

new sports car, Landy was quick to see

that he would need an existing engine

for this new car. He could not go to

Ford (due to an ongoing law suit over

the GT350 name) or Chrysler (they al-

ready had the Viper). The only Ameri-

can manufacturer left was General

Motors. He would have to step lightly

around Chevrolet because the last

thing they wanted was in-house com-

petition for their Corvette. Shelby read

that GM was creating a new 4.6 liter

V8 engine for the Cadillac called the

Northstar. He reasoned that the Cadil-

lac customer base was perfect for a

new, high performance sports car and

Cadillac already had some racing in

its history. If they were looking to

change their stodgy image, Shelby was

just the guy that could do that.

Landy took the ball and ran with

it, but even though he was represent-

ing Carroll Shelby, he wasn’t Shelby.

Cadillac was not interested—but

Oldsmobile might be. They would be

getting their own 4.0-liter version of

the Northstar engine which would

power their new Aurora sedan. John

Rock had recently taken over as the

Oldsmobile Division General Manager

and it was rumored that he was look-

ing for ways to inflate the company’s

sagging image. Olds was planning to

build a special version of the 4.0

Northstar engine for use in the Indy

Racing League series for open wheel

race cars. The timing for a Shelby

sports car proposal seemed perfect.

Landy packed his bag and headed to


The idea of an Oldsmobile pow-

ered sports car built by Carroll Shelby

interested Rock enough to give Landy

an audience. However, Shelby wasn’t

making the pitch – Landy was. Landy

wasn’t an automotive guy, and he sure

as heck wasn’t Carroll Shelby. Rock

was not impressed with him. The pro-

posal, while not being rejected out of

hand, sat on his desk.

Landy reported back to Shelby

that there appeared to be some inter-


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