Shelby Posts

Fireball Tim Visits hobbyDB, Shelby American Collection, and More In Boulder

The folks at hobbyDB recently enjoyed a couple days hanging out with Fireball Tim Lawrence, dropping in on some automotive attractions in the Boulder Colorado area. Fireball was visiting to record video for his Fireball Malibu Vlog on his his website fireballtim.com.

fireball tim shelby

Steve Volk of the Shelby Museum meets Fireball TIm.

First, let’s clear up the confusion about his name. “Fireball” is not a nickname, it’s his actual name. And no, he didn’t legally change it to that, it’s from his parents. “My Mom and Dad were a Hollywood writer/producer team,” he said. “They were always having to come up with interesting names for characters and went with ‘Fireball’ for me.” Aside from the usually teasing that comes with middle school, the name suits his go-getter life style just fine. My wife usually just calls out “Hey, you!” he laughed.

hobbydb office

At Tatooine, the headquarters of hobbyDB (from the left Anastasia, Devan, Ron and John).

While he was in Boulder, he stopped by the hobbyDB office to ask about working/collecting/playing with toys, and also the Model Car Hall of Fame. He took a private tour of the Shelby American Collection with Steve Volk, dropped in on William Taylor at Auto Archives, and paid a visit to the office of Hagerty’s Insurance. He also met hobbyDB store owner Bud Kalland to see his real and his diecast cars, and went to Loveland to view one of our Advisory Council member Steve Engeman’s collection of promo cars and other automobilia.

william taylor

A tour of Auto Archives and Hagerty Insurance with William Taylor.

Along with a ride up the twisty turns of Boulder Canyon, he shot enough video to create four episodes of his vlog.

Here’s the rundown of the episodes with links…

  • Episode 758: Visit to the Shelby American Collection (Private tour by Steve Volk)
  • Episode 759: Visit to hobbyDB, World’s Coolest Collectibles Database (Meet the hobbyDB staff and visit to Steve Engeman)
  • Episode 760: Visit to Auto Archives & A Rare 540HP McLaren (Auto Archives and Hagerty Insurance in Golden, CO)
  • Episode 761: A 400 HP Mustang GT is only  the Beginning (Visit with Bud Kalland)
bud kalland

Bud Kalland shared his diecast collection and his real Mustang (here with John and Christian).

Being immersed in Hollywood culture his whole life gave him a sense of wonder and possiblity. “Never listen to the Doctor No’s in life,” he says. By that, he means the negative people and voices that tell you to play it safe and never take chances. So to that end, he has worked for Disney Imagineering designing them park rides, created production designs for countless movies, and even worked on the 1989 Batmobile from the Tim Burton movies. “I take the script, and sketch out what the vehicles, weapons, props, and sets should look like for a movie,” he said. He also had a company called Fireballed which produced hypertuned Mini Coopers.

Steve Engman

With Steve Engeman, promotional model collector.

Fireball Tim is also an author/publisher, with several books to his credit. He’s created a couple volumes about his movie and TV cars, but also several activity and coloring books for kids. The children’s books focus on, as you might imagine, cars, beach, and ocean culture. “I just want to share my love of these things through coloring and reading.”

fireball tim books

Just a few of Fireball Tim’s books…

So, yeah, he’s pretty busy and loving every minute of it. These days, he splits time between Malibu and traveling anywhere there’s an opportunity to talk to people about car culture. His vlog features daily posts, so in the past couple years, he’s already created over 750 15 minute or so episodes. “The message of my work it that life is fun,” he said. “You can live a long time where it’s not fun. I play with cars, I live a beach life. Happiness is present, not in chasing dreams.”

Everything Fireball visited on his trip to Colorado is being archived on hobbyDB, The World’s Online Museum. He came to visit hobbyDB because he was a bit skeptical of our mission of documenting the entire world of collectibles. “I came out here because I didn’t think it could be done,” he said, “and now I thinks they just might. I love it!”  In fact, we plan to have him visit again later in the year as there is lots more to see here in Colorado!

Steve Volk of Shelby American Collection Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Steve Volk Shelby American CollectionThe hobbyDB Advisory Council‘s newest member is an expert on one of our favorite subjects: Carroll Shelby and his legendary cars.

Steve Volk is President of the Shelby American Collection, a museum of everything related to Shelby. The museum, located in Boulder, Colroado, features dozens of Cobras, Shelby Mustangs, and Ford GT-40s as well as other related vehicles. As if that weren’t enough, the collection includes incredibly rare original racing artifacts and probably the biggest gathering of toys and models of these cars.

“I’ve been interested in cars my whole life,” said Steve. “I started building model cars as a kid and started collecting Ferraris and Cobras in my 30s. I read about Shelby Cobras and GT-40s as a kid but never thought I would own one let alone an entire Shelby museum.”

Shelby American Collection museum

Just a few of the GT-40s, Mustang, and Cobras, at Shelby American Collection in Boulder.

The car that started it all was a factory team car that Steve purchased in the 1980s. Rather than hiding in the garages of individual enthusiasts, it made sense to put this and other cars on public display. It helped that Steve was also knew Mr. Shelby and could get his approval and cooperation. “Carroll Shelby was a good friend,” said Steve. “I spoke with him prior to starting the museum in 1996. We wanted his support in the creation of the museum, and he told me he would be there for us for as long as he was vertical. He kept his promise until his passing in 2012.”

With that kind of official involvement, the museum has been able to attract some very rare pieces. “We have a number of original trophies such the 1964 USRRC Championship trophy on display in the museum plus lots of race records and memorabilia from the Shelby American racing years,” said Steve.

As for the cars themselves, the collection includes many permanent fixtures as well as cars that are on temporary loan.The museum or its members own some 70 percent of the vehicles on display. The balance are owned by collectors around the country such as the Larry H. Miller family.

Shelby American Collection pin hood badge doedorantIn addition to the brick and mortar museum, items from the collection are being gathered in an Official Archive on hobbyDB. It’s a monumental undertaking to document the thousands of items on display, but when complete, it will be one of the biggest archives on the site.

“It’s incredible what Carroll Shelby did for the automobile industry,” said Steve, ”and for America having ushered in the muscle car era. He put America on the map by winning the World Manufacturers Championship in 1965, winning Le Mans in the GT40 for Ford in 1966 and 1967 and the SCCA Championship in the Shelby Mustang in 1965, 1966 and 1967.”

It’s incredible what Steve Volk and the Shelby American Collection are doing to preserve that legacy, too. Next time you’re in Boulder, Colorado on a Saturday, you can visit the museum in person.

Is 500 always greater than II? 1967 Vs. 1976 Mustang

1967 1976 Mustang

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy reading about the back story of a couple of very different Mustang diecast models.

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Suppose someone offered you a choice between two vintage Mustangs. The first is a 1967 Shelby GT 500. The second… a 1976 Mustang II Cobra. Easy choice, right? With emission controls, fuel efficiency goals, and new safety standards, by 1976, most cars were slower and less attractive than their predecessors. In fact, the ’67 probably represents the high point in Mustang performance, while the Mustang II easily is the nadir of the marque.

Okay then, let’s take a look at some 1/18 scale models of these two cars. In lane 1, we have the Road & Track edition of the 1967 Mustang from Auto World, which you can pick up for around $85. And in lane 2, the 1976 model from Greenlight, going for around $45. If you can set aside your feelings about the real cars and just consider the models as well as their relative prices, the comparison is closer than you might have guessed.

1967 Mustang

Under the hood, the ’67 is very detailed, as it should be at that price. But the ’76 has a surprising amount of detail including braces hoses, and quite a few parts with separately painted bits. Honestly, they are pretty much on par with each other here.

1967 1976 Mustang

A look at the chassis tells you the detail is worth the extra bucks on the ’67, right down to the body color overspray on the undercarriage. The chassis on the ’76 is a bit more basic, but still nice. Worth noting for both cars: The packaging eschews the usual screw-on base for a form fitting blister insert. The payoff is that neither car requires big, ugly mounting tabs that otherwise mar the design. Let’s hope that’s a continuing trend.

A peek inside both cars reveals a lot. Wait, before you get in, something amazing happens when you open the doors of Greenlight’s Cobra: the front edge of the door dips into the body, mimicking a real door hinge. This is a marvel of miniature engineering, really, something you probably have never noticed or cared about until now. Anything less real will never be the same.

1967 Mustang

Now let’s go inside. The black interior of the ’67 matches the spartan, utilitarian look of the real car, mixing matte and shiny surfaces throughout. It’s accurate, but nothing unusual. The interior of the Mustang II is far more opulent… the carpeting is flocked with fuzzy blue material. Say what you will about other aspects of 1970s cars (we already did), but velour is fabulous stuff. And the rest of the details are on par with the carpet treatment. Heck, you can even get a really good look at the insides with the rear opening hatch. Greenlight really outdid themselves on the interior of this model.

1976 Mustang

For two cars that represent the opposite ends of the performance spectrum in real life, these models are much closer in desirability than you might expect. Both are well packaged with fun graphics, making you think twice about whether to display them loose or in the box. Even the pickiest Mustang enthusiast will have to admit the Greenlight Mustang II would be worth having on their shelf alongside all your other 1/18 ‘Stangs.

1967 1976 Mustang

Shelby American Collection Showcases Much More Than Cars

Shelby American Collection museum

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.

Shelby America Collection AMT slot car Cobra

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 American Collection pin hood badge doedorant

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.

Shelby American Collection press release record brochure

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.

Shelby American Collection slot car AC Cobra

Here’s an Aurora AC slot car…

Shelby American Collection Tycopro 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.

Inside Scoop: Meet Charlie McHose, Shelby Mustang Designer

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Anyone who’s interested in American cars can name the principle engineers of the Shelby Mustang. There’s Carroll Shelby, of course, and automotive journalist Brock Yates, the , are usually cited as the folks who turned a sporty but mild-mannered coupe into a performance beast. But there were a lot of visual cues that set the Shelby cars apart, and you might not be familiar with the names of the folks who handled those aspects.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

McHose with one of his design sketches.

Charlie McHose is one of those people. He kindly took some time to talk to hobbyDB about his days on the project and shared some photos from his archives as well.

Fresh out of college in the early 1960s, McHose went to work for Ford Motor Company in England. He did a lot of detail work on interiors and grilles for Cortinas and other European models before moving to Detroit. “I worked on the first Mustang a little bit and also some refrigerators.” Yes, Ford Motor Company dabbled in appliances in those days. “Then one day in 1966, I was told I was heading to California to work on a new project.”

The first generation of Shelby Mustang was designed as something of an afterthought, a way to spice up the performance and image of very successful but modestly performing model. Unlike those first cars, the 1967 Shelby was developed along with the incoming car, so McHose was involved from May through July of 1966. The skunkworks were set up in a couple of old airplane hangars at LAX Airport in Los Angeles. (Sadly, the runways were not used for testing, which would have been even more awesome).

“When I first arrived, we didn’t have any cars to work with yet,” he recalled. “So I started on aluminum wheel designs. After a few weeks, we finally got a couple of cars… a fiberglas body and one beat up metal prototype to work with.” The cars were not complete models, missing the interior, glass and trunk lids. (In fact, the steel body was misshapen because that particular car had previously been used for some rather hard seatbelt testing.) Charlie’s main order of business: get to work on the scoops.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

From left: Early roof pillar treatments included windows and flush vents, but inspired by the GT40’s scoops, the final design was more aggressive.

Visually, some of the most important differences between the base Mustang and the Shelby version are the hood scoops (to help the engine gulp in more air) and the side scoops (to cool the rear brakes), and the roof pillar scoops (functional parts of the cabin ventilation, but mostly there to add extra visual interest). McHose worked on them all.

“The hood was a completely different part from the standard Mustang,” he said. “Not only was it fiberglass, but they decided to make the front fenders a few inches longer, so the entire hood grew as well.” So rather than bolt-on parts, the scoops are perfectly integrated into a whole new hood. “All of this was in the days before computer design,” said McHose. “We sketched, drew with markers, built shapes out of clay.” The roof scoops were add-on pieces that covered already functioning vents, but the fender scoops were designed to cut into the decorative vent-like character lines of the regular model and actually do some work.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang Designer

The longer front end required a bigger hood and featured McHose’s scoop designs.

Most of the engineering and interior modifications were handled elsewhere. McHose says he didn’t get to work directly with Carroll Shelby much. “By this stage of the project, Carroll had already made most of the engineering improvement decisions, so he just came around to check in and approve what we were doing,” said McHose. It’s not like Mr. Shelby was being indifferent to this project, however. He just had some other things going on as well. “Carroll spent most of his time in the next hangar over working on the GT40s, getting them ready for LeMans.”

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

The integrated rear spoiler was inspired by the tail of the GT40.

Speaking of which… SPOILER ALERT! Inspired by the tail end of those GT40s, McHose also helped design the integrated spoiler on the decklid and rear quarters of the car. The final roof pillar scoops also echo the look of the GT40 as well, instead of the rear-facing vents that had been proposed at one time.

While in California, McHose got to drive a first gen GT350… as his daily driver! And not just any old ’66 GT350… “This wasn’t a factory production car, it was prototype number one, according the serial number.” Lest you get too envious, the car had already been raced, tested, modified, and generally beat up to the point that it was not in pristine condition. “It drove like a truck,” he said. “It sounded like a tin can, except when you downshifted to accelerate. Then it sounded terrific!”

McHose’s participation in the project was done by late summer, and he didn’t see a finished car until that fall in Detroit. In fact, he says never owned a ’67 Shelby himself. “Back then, employees would buy a new car from the factory, drive it for six months, then sell it and get another new car,” he said. “I eventually got a ’68 Shelby for about six months and moved on to the next car.” Many of the features he designed had already been changed for the new year, so he has some minor regret not snagging one that he worked so diligently on.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

McHose with his daily driver, 1966 Shelby prototype #1.

If participating in the creation of one of the most iconic cars wasn’t enough of a career coup, he also worked with a young designer named Larry Wood at Ford. Larry, of course, would go on to Mattel and become involved with Hot Wheels as their one of their chief designers, a gig he still does today. And after his days at Ford, McHose would reunite with Wood for several years at Mattel.

McHose is modest about his contributions to what is considered the most potent and beautiful version of the Shelby Mustang. “Pretty much all I did was work on the scoops. I’d been working in Ford’s show cars studio, and they could have sent any of us. They sent me.” he said. “Back then, one department worked on the front of the car, another group worked on the back, another created the interior. We had guys cutting out cardboard templates to gauge how the various shapes would align. It’s a miracle all the parts of a single car all fit together in those days.” That may be the case, but in the for the Shelby, oh, did they fit perfectly! And we have Charles to thank for parts of that.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

Charlie owned this blue ’68 Shelby Mustang for a while before moving on to another new Ford. (All images courtesy of Charley McHose)

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang