Just a few of the GT-40, Mustang, and Cobra cars at the Shelby American Collection in Boulder
If you were to list all the automotive meccas in the United States, you wouldn’t immediately think of Boulder, Colorado. But it’s the home of the Shelby American Collection, a museum of anything and everything related to Shelby cars and the man behind them. The actual cars on display can vary from month to month, so frequent visits are worthwhile. Several cars are on loan from their owners, and the museum buys and occasionally sells items from their collection to keep things fresh.
The museum has been working with hobbyDB to create an online archive of these items (there are literally thousands of pieces, so it’s a long-term project). We’re also their partner via their official online store, selling limited edition posters, books, and other collectibles.
Besides the cars, there is a treasure trove of other pieces of great interest. There are models of various Shelby-related race cars… miniature GT-40s, Mustangs, and Cobras abound. But many other bits of memorabilia are on display as well.
This 1/25 scale Cobra slot car kit is based on the non-motorized AMT model.
The marketing for street versions of the GT-40 was very much open to the public in those days. If you walked into a Ford dealer in the mid-60s, you might find a salesman wearing this button. They might have even let you take home a brochure with all the specs. As indicated by the sales literature, however, you weren’t likely to find the actual car for sale on the lot, but instead had to be measured for it (and probably put down a hefty deposit.)
We’re not sure what Carrol Shelby’s Pit Stop Deodorant smells like, but gasoline and burning rubber are probable ingredients. Either way, it was marketed as “A real man’s deodorant,” and who could argue with that?
Shelby’s own brand of deodorant, a dealer button, and a badge from the first year Cobras.
Another fun piece in the collection is an LP record of the sounds of Le Mans. This recording featured the sounds of the crowd and the cars, as well as commentary from legendary participants including Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill and Mr. Shelby himself. For extra bonus points, this copy is signed by Dan Gurney.
There are some very rare parts on display including several complete engines, spare body panels, nameplates and badges.
Press release announcing the Cobra racing team, the sounds of 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race (in case you weren’t there in person), showroom brochure, and California Manufacturer plate.
The museum also includes pieces that most of the general public never would have seen, such as press release materials and company documents. There are also many volumes of racing programs, tickets and pit passes from events where these cars competed.
Here’s an Aurora AC slot car…
… and a Tycopro Cobra slot car.
See that license plate above? Sure, California black plates are special, but this one is really exotic. It’s a special plate for automobile manufacturers, with “013” designating the Shelby garage. The museum reported shelled out around $30,000 for it. And you thought tags were expensive in your state!
If you’ve never had a chance to see the Shelby American Collection, it’s as good an excuse as any to plan a trip to Boulder. The collection is usually only open to the public on Saturdays, so plan accordingly! In the meantime, you can visit the ever-growing archives on hobbyDB.
Fantastic post! I am hoping to make a visit to the museum soon. I want to have my son come with me but his days off are Wednesday and Thursday. I will work on the timing.
Truly an amazing collection. And the folks in charge of it are super nice to boot!
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