This is one of just 70 examples of the Shelby Series 1 that was factory-fitted with a supercharger, boosting power output from 320 bhp up to a tire shredding 450 bhp.
The Shelby Series 1 is one of the most consequential cars to ever carry Carroll Shelby’s name yet today it remains one of least well-known. Just 249 were made in total between 1998 and 2005, and it would be the only car ever made by Shelby from a blank sheet of paper.
Fast Facts – The Supercharged Shelby Series 1
- The Shelby Series 1 was introduced in 1999 as the first car to be designed and engineered from the ground up by Carroll Shelby. Unlike Shelby’s previous endeavors that modified existing models, the Series 1 represented his vision of an ideal sports car. Bruce Canepa designed the vehicle, it has classic roadster proportions imbued with a modern twist, featuring a long hood, short rear deck, and an open-top.
- The Series 1 was powered by an Oldsmobile Aurora 4.0 liter V8 engine, which produced 320 bhp and 290 lb ft of torque in naturally aspirated form. This power was sent to the rear wheels via a ZF 6-speed manual transmission. This combination of power and a low curb light weight (approximately 2,650 lbs) resulted in a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of roughly 170 mph.
- The Series 1 was built around an extruded and formed 6061 aluminum monocoque chassis, a cutting-edge approach in the late ’90s that provided strength and rigidity while reducing weight.
- Following General Motors’ decision to cease production of the Aurora V8 engine, Shelby began retrofitting existing Series 1 cars with superchargers to meet performance commitments. This supercharged variant significantly boosted output, increasing output to 450 bhp. Just 249 Series 1s would be built before the car left production.
Building The Shelby Series 1
Introduced in 1999, the Shelby Series 1 was a significant departure from Shelby’s previous endeavors. It was the first and only car designed and engineered from the ground up by Shelby and his team in-house. Until then, Shelby had built his reputation by improving existing models from other manufacturers, most notably Ford. The Series 1 represented a dream come true for him – the creation of a sports car entirely of his own making.
In many respects the Series 1 was a modern reimagining of the first car to ever carry Shelby’s name – the original Shelby Cobra of 1962. There’s a clear stylistic link between the two cars, and of course they’re both roadsters with front mounted V8s, rear wheel drive, and a strict focus on driver engagement.
The development of the Shelby Series 1 began in earnest in 1994. As is almost always the case for new automakers, the development process of the first vehicle was complex, and it required both more time and more money than had originally been budgeted.
The styling of the car was done by the talented Bruce Canepa, and by the standards of the 1990s the engineering that went into the chassis of the car was space age. The Series 1 was given an extruded and formed 6061 aluminum monocoque chassis with aluminum honeycomb panels bonded into the floor and rocker panels for additional strength and stiffness.
The body panels were made from a combination of carbon fiber and fiberglass laminate for the lowest possible weight, and the car rode on advanced double wishbone suspension with coilover remote reservoir dampers mounted inboard and actuated by rocker arms.
As you might expect power disc brakes were fitted front and back, and the cars all came with air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, and an AM/FM/CD audio system. Perhaps a little unusually for the time, the Series 1 also had both Traction Control and Stability control.
Power was provided by Oldsmobile’s 4.0 liter L47 V8 DOHC “Aurora” engine which produced 320 bhp at 6500 rpm with 290 lb ft of torque at 5,000 rpm in naturally-aspirated form, and a stonking 450 bhp in supercharged form. The supercharged cars were given larger brakes, a heavy duty clutch, and just 70 of them would be made in total – they became known as “Ferrari Killers,” in part due to Shelby’s long history of rivalry with the Italian automaker.
After a series of well-publicized delays the Series 1 started shipping out to buyers in 1999, there were early issues with build quality, as was probably predictable for a new automaker, and this further harmed the car’s early reception.
As a result of all of these factors just 249 Series 1s were made before the project was mothballed. There was talk of reviving the design with a Series 2 version, however sadly it would never come to be. The surviving examples of the Series 1 are now starting to see their values climb, the early issues with the cars have long been ironed out and the bad press has receded into the distant past.
The Factory-Supercharged Shelby Series 1 Shown Here
The car you see here is the most desirable specification of the Shelby Series 1 that was made, the factory-supercharged version that’s capable of 450 bhp that originally added an extra $35,100 USD to the cost of the car.
The supercharged cars are said to be able to do the 0-62 mph dash in just 3.2 seconds, enough to embarrass many supercars of their era, and a marked improvement over the 4.4 seconds required by the naturally-aspirated version.
The car you see here is currently located in Italy and it has just 4,487 miles on the odometer. It comes with the two copies of the original owner’s manual, one of which has Carroll Shelby’s signature on it.
It also has a copy of an email exchange with the president of Shelby American, a copy of the first registration documentation, the Italian certificate of historical relevance (CRS ASI), the Italian registration documentation, and a copy of Cruisin’ magazine with a six-page article on the car.
It’s now being offered for sale out of Varese, Italy won Collecting Cars, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Collecting Cars
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