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 2 (Part 1 of 2)

Wednesday 2nd November 2016. We got up early for something to eat, the sun was already out so this was going to be another lovely day in Las Vegas. For the second day of the show was going to be a little different. We wanted to do another hall of cars & trucks and finish a bit earlier ready for the second part of the day Adam had planned for us. We will cover that little adventure in the next post.

On arrival it was already busy, finding a place to park is a mission in its own right, seems as though people were starting to catch on to our secret little place.

The hall was packed out again so we decided to work logically up one walkway and down the next until we had seen the whole area. We start with more cars and trucks.

There was some pretty cool accessories on show and made some interesting pics. You found a “small upgrade” to add to his engine, some monstrous supercharger or two!

 

We worked our way outside to some more displays and the sounds of cars being thrashed around an arena.

The cars being thrown around the track were a couple of Mustangs going for it side by side.

Now for most Mustang lovers there is a special car which is owned by Ken Block. Of course we are referring to the Hoonigan. This reincarnation now has twin super chargers boasting a massive 1400bhp! Needless to say we are dedicating a little section to that car here. Hopefully we have it covered from every angle. It’s not often you get up close to such a car.

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Now for the popular part gathering from emails tells us; the lovely SEMA promotion ladies.

Mart managed to get a pic taken with some of the models.

On the way back to the car we grabbed a few last pics from SEMA day two.

The next Part 2 post has nothing to do with cars or trucks. But it managed to make every one of us produce a huge smile for the hour or so we were there.

Shelby Heritage Center (part 2)

Adam was wandering around the wonderful Shelby Heritage Center and speaking to people as he does, one of those guys he was speaking to was called Vince Laviolette. It turns out that Vince is the Senior Designer in the Research & Development department for Shelby American Inc. Adam mentioned that he had a few Shelbys and we were given unprecedented access to the behind the scenes workshops and cars that the public don’t get to see. Obviously photos were restricted, but what an incredible experience to be given the guided tour around the facility. We would like to thank everybody at Shelby Heritage Center for their extraordinary hospitality and making our visit something never to be forgotten. Thanks Guys.

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There is the odd Cobra lurking about that is being made from the original tooling that will cost the best part of $250,000 if you want one. These new-old cars are old style bodywork with the engine and transmission to fit a budget. They will have airbags for safety and all sorts of modern-day comforts!

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We started yesterday with the newer models, so now it’s time to show some of these unmistakable classic cars.

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At the end there is a chance to spend your cash and by some merchandise, or even buy a car if your wallet will stretch that far!

Such beautiful cars!

Tomorrow we hopefully will have some pics from the first day of SEMA 2015 for you once we had sorted them out.

Buntingford 2014

Update 8th September 2014.

Thanks to everybody who pointed out that its 2014 and not 2015. Well spotted, you can take your pick from the excuses.  A)  it was deliberate of course to make sure you were reading it, or b) was it late in the evening. 🙂

The week has gone pretty quickly and we have been looking forward to a car show a nearby town Buntigford. Each year they block both ends of the main high street off and allow cars to park all the way up and let people wander around. We past two bands and solo a singer. We past a couple of pubs that looked very inviting. We have a number of pictures that we have taken and posted below. But before that we wanted to share a little snapshot of a couple of cars that we lined up ready for some of quality workmanship we have been become recognised for.

We thought the pic with a little tweak looks very retro!

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The pictures taken here were only a selection of the many we had taken, so have gone for an older theme and split them into smaller sections.

The big cars

Very old:

 Best of the rest:

It was a busy show and looks like everybody enjoyed it, we’re looking forward to next year already.

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Classic Car Show Buntingford, UK. 2013

Most years we go to the Buntingford Classic Car Show which is a small show compared to some of the other county sized shows. But, we like it there as it’s family orientated event and you meet up with friends and some nice people to talk about cars. This year we took our latest addition to the garage – 1965 Coupe v8 auto with a single exhaust with a red interior. This car was imported over from Las Vegas where it spend most of her time.  We have decided to put her up for sale as we have had a few enquiries if she was for sale, so we thought why not. We have had some serious interest about this one after just one day. There are more pictures on the “For Sale” menu or click here for the quick link.

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The show 7th August 2013.

The cars here vary from the incredibly old to the latest Jaguars, bespoke hot rods to American Jeeps. We have taken some photo’s of our customers cars that have also put their cars on show at this event as well.

There are the more serious owners who take the cars to the track and race them, we even supply parts to this racer.

Next car along is a proper AC Cobra that is in a current race series. We took some pictures of this as the cars are rare let alone being raced like they were intended to be. We do like to see the children look at the cars the too, perhaps a budding Nigel Mansell or just an eye with good taste.

The gloriously huge Thunderbird that had to park the trunk deep into a cut away part of the hedge!

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I was very taken with the oldest car there at the show this year. It’s a 1910 Renault. The owner was chatting to me about this car’s history and it’s really is amazing that the car still exists. This is the only known example of this model in the world and even Renault themselves don’t have one! The car was taken over to USA before the First World War and spent its life over there up until thirty years ago when the owner bought her back to the UK. The car had no bodywork at the rear past the seats as she was used on a farm as a work horse to transport hay and milk. When this work of art was not being used it just stood in a barn. The bodywork has been hand-built over many years, and yet the mechanics of this engine has never been touched since it was made, incredible. The owner takes this car on its annual pilgrimage to France back to the Renault factory where it was originally made, it receives a very warm welcome and you can see why.

There were many cars from many walks of life and the families looked like they were all enjoying the sun. The ice cream sellers definitely looked pleased with the warm weather. Just to show the diversity of the vehicles there how about a v12 trike?

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