Monday, May 14, 2012

In Memoriam Carroll Shelby

I should have had my camera with me. Because if I had photos to show you, you’d understand. Too late now!

It happened in Wilno, a small town in rural Ontario. I had just stepped out of the local tavern when I saw the thing, only meters away.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

It lay close to the ground, absolutely still. Its striped, muscular frame suggested immense power, and its skin reflected the blood-red rays of the setting sun. I stood frozen, refusing to believe what my eyes were telling me.

Moments passed, and I decided I had nothing to lose. I began to walk towards it. Closer… closer… closer.

Finally, I was standing over it. No response. So I reached down and, ever so gently, stroked it. And then it happened. A voice behind me, yelling a question. I mustn’t have responded, because the question was repeated.

“So would you like a peek under the hood?”

"Yes", I said.

Beneath the thing’s hood was a gleaming and oh-so-potent 427 V8. And the thing itself was an AC Cobra, immaculately restored to its mid-60s glory. For the next 30 minutes, the Cobra's owner treated me to a bumper-to-bumper inspection of the car, inside and out. I must have exclaimed “Cool!” about 100 times. Because it was.

The best part? When the owner started it up. The car's engine and side-mounted exhaust pipes erupted into sonic mayhem, right off the decibel scale. Pure rock ‘n’ roll.

Ever since then, I have had the comfort knowing that, on the highways of Ontario, there can be found an unalloyed embodiment of one man’s automotive vision and imagination. A man whom I've never met, but whose work I've admired for more than 45 years. An man who, just recently, left us. The car, an AC Cobra. The man, Carroll Shelby.

RIP Carroll.

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