One for the Road
The Last Shelby: A Piece of History and The Inspiring Face of a Local Automotive Program
Our awesome friends over at the Northeast Texas Community College’s (NTCC) Carroll Shelby Automotive Program were kind enough to let us borrow this remarkable piece of history. The last car Carroll Shelby ever bought. Here’s the story by Dr. Jonathan McCullough (NTCC Vice President for Advancement), behind the car, and the man who was personally involved in the development of the Program bearing his name:
“In 2007 I was fortunate (or lucky, or blessed) to meet one of the greatest “car minds” of all time, not to mention, one of the nicest guys I had ever met in my life, Carroll Shelby. After a very entertaining lunch that first day, he went straight to the heart of the matter and said he wanted to talk about the Automotive Program at NTCC. His exact words were “there are many young men and women who are stuck in dead-end jobs. They went to work straight out of high school stocking shelves, digging ditches, etc., thinking they were making good money. Before too long they had a car payment, rent, utilities, and more. All of a sudden they found themselves ready to get married and start a family but they could not get out of this rut they had dug themselves into. I want to give those people the ability to get an education and learn a trade that will help them to get ahead!” His goal was to provide an opportunity for struggling students to get into college and send hard-working, well-paid, mechanics back out into the community.
That day Mr. Shelby committed $50,000 per year to provide students with scholarships allowing them to achieve their dreams. In addition, he also contributed funds to create a position allowing the College to hire a Director of the new Carroll Shelby Automotive Technology Program at NTCC. He made additional cash contributions and purchases of equipment and supplies helping NTCC to enhance its offerings in the Automotive Program. To date, he and the Carroll Shelby Foundation have committed more than $700,000 to this project. However, after many trips to the College where Carroll would show up and surprise students by sitting in on their classes and letting them ask him questions, or he would walk through the garage and look under the hoods with them, he told me there was something missing. Mr. Shelby said we needed a “car” that could be the face of the program. Something to take to local high schools, car shows, parades, etc., that would bring attention to the opportunities made available to students who could become certified mechanics.
He had a “certain” car in mind and he personally searched for it for more than two years. In March of 2011, he called me on the phone to let me know that he had found THE car. He told me he personally bought it and was having it shipped to NTCC that week. THE car, a 1968 Shelby GT350H, arrived on our campus a few days later. At that time it was solid maroon (without the stripes) and needed a little bit of bodywork. However, the person delivering the car jumped up on the trailer, started it right up, and drove it into our garage.
Mr. Shelby came by later to look it over and told me we needed to take our time and restore it back to its original condition. He said this was what he had been searching for and when he found it he knew this was THE car he wanted as the face of the Carroll Shelby Automotive Program at NTCC. He sat inside it and cranked the engine up and said: “this is one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard”. This was Carroll’s last visit to our College. He passed away a few months later, but his legacy will live forever. However, the picture of him sitting in this Cobra that day and listening to the roar of the engine is priceless, as is the story behind The Last Shelby.”
This 1968 Shelby GT350H is one of 224 made for the, reestablished, Shelby and Hertz “Rent-A-Racer” program after it was stalled in 1967. During its restoration, it was repainted Highland Green like the iconic 1968 Bullitt Mustang.
This beautiful car is already garnering lots of attention at the dealership. Come check it out for yourself while it’s still here!
If you want to learn more about the Carroll Shelby Automotive Program at NTCC, visit their website: www.shelbyautotech.com