A Friend Catches Up…

We feel it’s time to reveal what the special post was going to be all about that we talked about when Adam came back from his SEMA trip this year. Of course it was always going to be car related as you would expect. Last year Adam made arrangements to meet up with his friend Cleo Shelby. This year he has gone one better…

While out in Las Vegas Adam made the phone calls and arranged to meet up with his friend Cleo, this time he introduced his wife Lynn to Cleo who hit it off straight away.

The usual catch up chats were had and as time passed a rare opportunity was offered to Adam & Lynn; lunch at Cleo’s house the next day in Las Vegas! Obviously that is an offer you just can’t refuse. For privacy issues we delayed this post and made sure all was OK with Cleo before we posted.

All photos are exclusive to Adam/Mustang Maniac and the first time on the internet.

We won’t show pictures of the outside of her home except to say it’s pretty special as you would expect. Adam and Lynn arrived on time and was let in through the gated premises and was met by Cleo at the front door. They were given a cup of tea to start with which was shortly followed a guided tour around her home. Adam was in his element looking at Carroll’s possessions and his car related items. Adam did take some photo’s of those, but again we will respect Cleo’s privacy, but we will show you this little item, yep the back of Cobra that is now a seat!

Cleo was happy to chat away to Lynn and Adam for quite a while in one of the reception rooms where Adam took this pic.

Not to disappoint, Cleo kept her promise to show Adam her one of a kind Mustang. Carroll had this car made especially for Cleo which is unique as this car has no limited edition number, but is signed by her husband. Cleo removed the dust cover to reveal a special bespoke Mustang, just one of one!

Cleo behind the wheel of her much-loved car.

When it was time to leave Adam was given a parting gift from Cleo – a couple of drinks from Carroll’s very own collection! a bottle of Carroll Shelby Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and a bottle of Snake Bite Lager.

The 2007 wine is a rare vintage and very much a collector’s item now. The question you have to ask yourself here is; did he or didn’t he open it? Cheers. 🙂

As part of Adam’s birthday, he was bought this rather cool wine holder, what a fitting way to hold the bottle of wine.

We hope the wait for this post was worth it. Next week we will be back to the cars again.

Shelby American Full Factory Tour

Friday 4th November 2016. It’s SEMA 2016 last day for us at the show, but before we picked up where we left off at SEMA, there was a trip back to the Shelby Heritage Center to be had where a full, unprecedented all access tour was coming our way. As this is a large post with lots of pictures, it’s well worth scrolling through to the end as these rare behind the scenes pics have not been in the public eye – until now!!!!

We arrived early before the doors opened at nine sharp. As a group we were hanging around by the side roller door of the factory waiting for our guide, we could already see some rather nice cars parked inside. Adam had arranged to meet with Shelby American Inc’s Director of Production and R&D, he is also their Chief Test Driver; Vince LaViolette. Vince was going to be our very own personal guide.

A few more other guests joined had by now joined our little group, thinking this was a way in. However, once the introductions had been completed with Vince we were shown in, some random other people followed us. Vince asked if they were with us and we of course said no. With that Vince advised them that we were on a private tour and that they should wait outside. The first thing to see was lines of  post ramps, all with cars in various states of their build along with the sheer scale of the factory.

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Behind us stood a very rare original GT40 owned by Bob Bondurant this was his personal car, and what a car it is too. In 1965 Bob won the FIA Manufacturers’ World Championship for Shelby American and Ford, winning seven out of ten races against the class dominating Ferrari 250 GTOs in Europe. Bob is also known for being a driving instructor to actors James Garner, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Robert Wagner and Tim Allen, Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage to name a few.

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We were taken down the ramps and shown each of the cars in detail, and what they (Shelby) do to them to make them a “Shelby”. If you thought it was “scoops and stickers” then you are so far from the truth. The cars are ducted, cooled, tweaked, upgraded etc. but we will go into that a little later.

The cars have to be registered when they arrive at Shelby in order for the work to be done. The stock parts are removed from the car ready for the Shelby parts. This car below was going back to Australia as a rare right hand drive Shelby version. The little blue stickers on and around the car are where the body shop checks for damage, and what needs to be touched up after the series of complex engineering work has been completed.

Moving further on there was works race cars, replica GT40’s and Cobras of course.

We got up close to a Cobra being assembled. All the racks that hold the parts are covered so they don’t even put the smallest of marks on them, such is the level of care and detail.

The Cobra was waiting for the engine to be fitted and Vince explained the quality control that it all goes through before it even gets near the car.

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Moving round to the back of the factory, are the little seen areas of the body assembly. There is a huge storage area off to the side where the parts from the new cars that were removed are stored before the new bespoke Shelby parts are fitted to the car. Some of these “spare” parts are sold on or maybe modified as required.

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The car’s brakes and suspension having their upgrades fitted.

The very back of the workshop well away from the public gaze is the body paint and prep areas, the light booths will show any imperfections for the paint to be fixed.

We mentioned earlier on that the cars are all ducted and vented etc. The hoods are designed to cool the engine as every 100deg saved from the hot running engines will give around 4obhp, that’s A staggering figure just for cooling. The engines can run hot to about 400deg, but with the Shelby ducting designs this can be reduced to around 260deg, that’s why the venting is so important and the simple (in principle) way to obtain more power. This also applies to the brakes, there are cooling ducts under the cars to make sure the brake temperatures do not go out of tolerance no matter what the style of driving. The fabrication area is where each car has its own bespoke bodywork fitted or panels made for the car. Vince showed us the process for the carbon fibre and the fibreglass made on site, quite literally everything is hand finished to an impeccable standard.

Vince explains and shows us why all the little fins and ducts are there along with the benefits they produce. Nothing on a Shelby is just for show when it comes to the panels & bodywork.

Vince and Yogi discuss the finer points of body styling with Shelby’s best.

We emerged from the body shop out into the main factory area again, here more cars were being finished and some more new parts storage.

Vince explained that every single car is given a thorough road test adjusted and tested again. Vince gave us an example of one particular car even had a tiny break wobble at the rear at high-speed braking. The problem was tracked down to the position of the rear calipers being to high. A new design and fabrication was made to the calipers to re-position them, just to stop that issue that any mere mortal wouldn’t even detect, but they are there. If you think that the Shelby cars are expensive – now you know they are cheap considering what you get and what goes on behind the scenes to make your car the best it can be.

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The suspension handling is set up to the tires and their pressures when testing as on this 1000bhp just back from an initial test run. So when the owners change the wheels, tires or stance, they are undoing all that fine tuning and hours of testing done by professionals.

We walked up to the cleaning area passing more completed cars and a trucks, vince, Yogi and Adam leading the way.

The obligatory photo shoot with Mustang Maniac’s core personnel and Vince.

The crew; Gary, Jason,Yogi, Vince, Adam and Mart.

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We mentioned in an earlier post that you can sign the walls of the Shelby American Factory, which we obviously did a few days ago in the public area. This time Adam wanted to do something a little different, so the idea was born to draw around Adam and we all sign inside with a message.

Gary is quite a talented cartoonist and we put him on the spot to replicate our business card logo. We even stuck that business card in Adams silhouetted hand. What did we write? Just a message to the Shelby Factory and Cleo Shelby too from yesterdays catch up with her.

As Vince said, “there are no stickers or scoops here.”

For over two hours of Vince’s valuable time he answered our barrage of questions and showed us everything. As with most very busy people he was due at a meeting, we said our thanks and Vince departed leaving us to make our way back to the factory museum and shop. We of course took another look at the cars which are out of reach of the general public.

Then Chris and Mart took a Shelby for a spin! (OK, they just sat in it!)

That was our tour over; a rare, unique and personal guided tour around the whole of the Shelby factory. We weren’t allowed to take photo’s in couple of places, such as Vince’s own R & D area and another fabrication process area for obvious reasons. However, we were given that full unprecedented access and shown everything no stone unturned. Vince even showed us what he was working on for the 2017 Mustang in that R&D area! Not bad for a “small time parts dealer” as Adam said again.

That leaves us to say a huge thanks from all of us at Mustang Maniac to the Shelby Heritage Center and Vince LaViolette for giving us the top-level VIP treatment for the morning. An incredible insight to one of the worlds most famous names in the automotive market.

Las Vegas – SEMA 2016 Day 3 (Part 2 of 2)

Thursday 3rd November 2016. SEMA has been a pretty awesome show and we have loved every minute of it so far. But, this afternoon of the third day we had a special catch up with a friend of Adam’s and and official interview. The suspense is now over as we can reveal that it was Cleo Shelby, the fifth and surviving wife of  the late Carroll Shelby. Adam had arranged to meet up with his long time friend Cleo at a place of her choosing, where he had a more private conversation shortly before Chris joined Adam with a whole heap of questions ready to ask Cleo. The rest of us being Yogi, Gary, Jason and Mart turning up a few minutes later and we all sat down with her after introductions and had a drink or three with her.

First a little about Cleo;

After the sad passing of Swedish-born Lena Dahl Shelby in a highway accident in 1997, Carroll insisted he would never marry again. Four months later he married Cleo Patricia Marguerita Shelby in Las Vegas. Cleo was a vivacious Briton who was always by his side, even as she pursued her interests in flying, art and jewellery. Carroll initially meet Cleo in 1970. About that first meeting, Cleo told us that when Carroll first saw her she was getting of a car in her full evening wear and jewellery. Carroll thought she was a princess and started to talk to her and they hit it off straight away. Carroll also told Cleo that he was going to marry her at that first encounter. He had to wait a while, they were indeed married some 27 years later. There are relatively few photo’s of Carroll and Cleo together, so we found some stock images here.

Chris was asking lots of questions in his official capacity for Classic American magazine. As this was going to be an exclusive we won’t repeat everything she told us. But, Cleo was fantastic and answered everything thrown at her from all of us at some point. Some of it will be in the interview, some of it certainly won’t. Such a classy lady and she has a great sense of humour too. We can reveal a little story about when Carroll was taken seriously ill, he needed to get to a hospital as an emergency which was miles away. Their aeroplane was standing by, but the pilot was told to “get out of the way”, as Cleo (who is fully qualified pilot) had at the time over 4000 flying hours, compared to the relatively small amount from the pilot. Needless to say Cleo got Carroll to the hospital and he was treated to fight another day. Stories like that you just don’t read about. So it seems this lovely lady can certainly lay the law down when she needs too. We didn’t take photo’s during the chat and Chris’s interview as we saved those for outside in the afternoon sun. Cleo is quite a private person and keeps herself very much to herself, but she agreed to sign our SEMA passes, and just about everything else the guys put in front of her. After an absolutely fascinating two full hours with Cleo, it was time to leave as Cleo had another meeting to attend, which it looked like she was going to be late for now. We all went outside for that impromptu photo shoot, trust us, we have quiet a few pics, here are only a small sample of the ones we took. Chris was taking the official photo’s for the Classic American Magazine to go with the interview of course, but we grabbed a few of our own too.

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The Mustang Maniac “core”, Adam & Yogi had their pic(s) taken first as you would expect.

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Then the rest of the guys also got in for a photo, Gary, Adam, Jason, Cleo, Mart & Yogi. Now there’s one for the album and to tell your grandchildren!

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There was a lot of people looking to see what was going on, and taking their photo’s of us, as we were taking ours. We did hear a comment from a guy to his friends, “Did you see who that was, how did they get to meet her?” Adam replied with, “Not bad for a small time parts dealer eh?” They looked a little blank at his response, to which Adam just smiled. This has become a little bit of an in-house, joke saying for Adam, if you know Adam then you will understand the story behind it. Adam tells us that there are some readers out there who will know exactly what it means.

We all escorted Cleo back to her car and chatted some more on the way, we were part of her entourage for the day so it seemed. We said our goodbyes, Cleo gave us all a hug and kiss. Adam had a few more quiet words before Cleo got in her car and left with a big smile and a wave. We walked back to the SEMA show still slightly shell-shocked to meet such a high-profile person in the automotive world. We asked Adam why didn’t he mention Cleo before to us? He replied with a typical Adam-ism “I know a lot of people, I don’t need to name drop.” With that, we all knew what he meant. It only leaves one thing to say to a very busy lady:

Thank you Cleo for taking some time out of your schedule to catch up with us.

Later that evening we went out to our local eatery Wingstop, 3910 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas. NV 89119. We had been looked after so well by a young lady called Morgan, she had asked us where we had been, so we told her SEMA. She told us that she would love to have gone to see it. With that Adam had sparked an idea. Adam asked Chris to get her to one side as he was going for another free refill, as he had a little surprise for her. Adam had a spare ticket and wanted to give it to Morgan. 

Morgan was absolutely delighted and a little overwhelmed that some strangers would do such a thing for her, you just can’t buy smiles like this. Needless to say Adam got another hug from a young lady who was lost for words.

During the evening the beer never seemed to stop flowing for some reason. A fantastic way to end the day. Cleo made our day, so Adam (being Adam), came to the rescue and made a young lady’s day too. Morgan posted a great picture of her inside the SEMA show for the final day with big thank you to Mustang Maniac.