Make us your home page
Instagram

After Carroll Shelby's death, Shelby American still in fast lane

In the first two weeks after Carroll Shelby died, the phones at his Shelby American car company didn't ring once.

"And then when they finally did, we had people with urgency in their voices, asking if they were still going to get their cars," said John Luft, president of Shelby American, based in Las Vegas.

The short answer is absolutely. The company that Shelby founded 50 years ago to build specialty cars like Mustang GT350s and 427 Cobras is "planning for the next 50 years," Luft said.

"This is ground that had never been walked — life without Carroll," he said. "But Apple's not going anywhere, and Steve Jobs is no longer alive. We are focused on the next 50 years, not the last 50."

Shelby, a legendary racer who developed Shelby Mustangs and Cobras and was a lifelong entrepreneur, died in Dallas in May after a long illness. He was 89.

Shelby American is a subsidiary of Carroll Shelby International, a publicly held company that trades over the counter.

Even before Shelby's death, the company was in transition.

Although Shelby worked with longtime partner Ford to develop the Shelby GT500 Mustang, those cars were built in Ford factories and sold by Ford dealers.

Before the economic downturn, Ford had a program with Shelby American in which Ford sent thousands of Mustang GTs to Shelby American to be converted to Shelby GTs, sold at a healthy markup by Ford dealers.

After the market for specialty cars plummeted, the Shelby GT was discontinued. Shelby American still builds specialty Mustangs, but people have to buy cars first and then send them to Shelby to be converted into a GT350 or a Super Snake. Shelby additions can be $30,000 or more on top of the cost of the car.

The company continues to build the Shelby 1000, the last Mustang that Shelby helped develop. It's a $200,000 monster that can be ordered with more than 1,000 horsepower.

Luft is refocusing Shelby American on selling more parts to modify Mustangs, whether they are Shelbys or not.

Parts currently account for about 20 percent of revenue, and Luft wants to increase that to 50 percent within two years.

"The days of our building 7,000 cars a year are long over," he said. "Carroll always said forget the highs and lows. Identify your sweet spot, and right now, our sweet spot is 400 to 500 cars a year. And as we continue to develop the parts side, we may find that the sweet spot is 300 cars."

Automotive News recently reported that Shelby American expects earnings this year of about $2.5 million on sales of roughly $22 million.

"Shelby American was profitable last year and will be more profitable this year," Luft said.

After Carroll Shelby's death, Shelby American still in fast lane 12/22/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 22, 2012 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]