DETROIT (Reuters) - Carroll Shelby, designer of the Shelby Cobra and other sports cars that placed him in the pantheon of auto industry legends, has died at age 89, his company said on Friday.
He died on Thursday at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, according to the company, Carroll Shelby Licensing. The firm did not disclose the cause of death. A post on his Facebook page last month revealed he had been hospitalized for pneumonia.
Shelby was one of the few prominent designers to work with all three major American car companies, starting with Ford Motor Co in the 1960s. His last collaboration with Ford was on the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500.
Shelby's high-performance cars helped Detroit challenge the dominance of the Europeans in racing. Ralph Gilles, head of product design for Chrysler, said Shelby created cars that helped enthusiasts worldwide find "joy and self-actualization."
"My name is Carroll Shelby and performance is my business," Shelby said in an early commercial for the Cobra.
He was born in Leesburg, Texas, in 1923. He started racing cars in the 1950s, and in 1959 he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a marathon race held in France.