23 Timeless Carroll Shelby Quotes
One of the most iconic high-performance sports cars of all time is the original Shelby Cobra, designed by none other than Carroll Shelby himself. Who was Carroll Shelby? What kind of person was he? These timeless Carroll Shelby quotes embody his passion for his projects and love for racing.
Who is Carroll Shelby?
Carroll Shelby (1923-2012) was an American automotive designer, entrepreneur, and racer. He is best remembered for his significant contributions to the legendary Shelby Cobra and Shelby Mustang. That legacy includes a fan base we serve with officially licensed Shelby merchandise at the Shelby Store. Peruse our vast collection for your next favorite mug, T-shirt, or decor item featuring iconic Shelby imagery and quotes.
23 Famous Carroll Shelby Quotes
1. "There's never enough horsepower... just not enough traction."
Shelby's humor shines through while discussing his perpetual pursuit of more horsepower while trying to balance it with traction.
Never Enough Horsepower Heather Black Tee
2. "These cars are meant to be driven, so enjoy the hell out of all of it - not just look at it when it's clean."
Shelby's creations aren't meant to sit in a garage and be admired. Their full power is intended to be embraced and enjoyed on the road.
3. "I have always believed that if you want to make something happen, you should do it yourself."
Personal initiative drove Shelby during his career; this quote emphasizes his hands-on approach to racing and car design.
4. "In 1964, when Lee Iacocca said, 'Shelby, I want you to make a sports car out of the Mustang,' the first thing I said was, 'Lee, you can't make a racehorse out of a mule. I don't want to do it.' He said, 'I didn't ask you to make it; you work for me.'"
Shelby acknowledges the importance of having a solid foundation from the start when building a high-performance car.
5. "The reason I moved to California the first time was to build the Cobra. I thought it was stupid to have a 1918 taxicab engine in what Europeans like to call a performance car when a little American V-8 could do the job better."
Shelby's motivation for moving to California to build the Shelby Cobra showcased his belief that an American V-8 engine would be a dramatic improvement from the outdated European engine.
6. "I'm not a mechanic; I'm a nut!"
Shelby frequently addressed his enthusiastic passion for cars with humor.
7. "Next year, Ferrari's ass is mine."
Showcasing his competitive spirit, Shelby expressed his intention to defeat Ferrari the following year after losing the 1963 Le Mans.
CS "Ferrari's Ass Is Mine" Royal Blue T-Shirt
8. "I'll go to the racetrack and drive; you build the car and take care of the paperwork."
Shelby understood the importance of delegation, focusing his efforts on racing while his team handled the rest.
9. "If you have time to think during a race, you're not going fast enough."
Racing is about the thrill of the speed and requires total concentration. There's no room for distractions.
10. "My favorite thing is to go where I've never been."
New horizons are just new options to explore. Shelby's penchant for exploration and pushing limits helped him build some of the most iconic vehicles today.
11. "When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting."
To Shelby, racing is all-consuming.
12. "Success is not about how many cars you sell. It's about the passion and the love and the quality of the product."
Genuine passion and dedication to a project are what define and encourage success.
13. "My proudest moments are beating Ferrari for the World Championship in 1965 and working with Ford to win Le Mans in 1966 and 1967."
Shelby's passion and dedication helped him secure a victory at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967.
14. "The only thing that beats cubic inches is cubic money, and a lot of it."
Investing in engine performance is one of the most significant contributors to the success of a high-performance vehicle.
15. "I've always been asked, 'What's your favorite car?' and I've always said, 'The next one.'"
Innovation and improvement both drove Shelby to strive for excellence continually.
16. "People that are competitive like to be with others that are competitive."
Competition doesn't have to be antagonistic. Camaraderie adds to the experience of competing.
17. "Porsche and BMW drivers are arrogant."
This quote speaks for itself.
18. "If you want to be a hero, you've got to have big dreams."
No one achieves excellence without setting and pursuing ambitious goals.
19. "I had to come from something, didn't I?"
During interviews with Shelby, his background as a chicken farmer was a common topic. He addressed the point humorously with this quote.
20. "I don't think there is anything quite as wonderful as a 427 Cobra."
The 427 Cobra was one of Shelby's most iconic creations, even by his own standards.
21. "It's a lot easier to slow a car down than to speed it up."
When designing a car, starting with a powerful base rather than trying to increase power later is essential.
22. "I'm an old dinosaur. I just make cars because I love cars."
Shelby's passion for cars drove his success in his career.
23. "Leaving a successful career in chicken farming was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make."
This humorous statement describes Shelby's transition from farming to the automotive world.
Did Carroll Shelby Actually Say the 7000 RPM Quote?
"There's a point, 7,000 RPM, where everything fades. The machine becomes weightless — just disappears. All that's left, a body moving through space and time."
- Matt Damon (as Carol Shelby.)
In the film Ford vs. Ferrari, this iconic quote embodies Shelby's deep reverence for high-performance vehicles, but there's no verifiable source linking it to him.
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