The Eighth Annual Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club Car Show will be held on the historic Santa Monica Pier, a fitting venue noted as the end of Route 66, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. Spectator admission is free.
The show is dedicated for the eighth year to the memory of Tony Sousa, a longtime Mustang and Shelby enthusiast who passed away in 2005. Sousa was an active member of the National Shelby American Automobile Club and secretary of the local Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club. He had worked as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney.
Randy Richardson, club president, said the historic Santa Monica Pier is an “exceptional location” for a car show, especially a show featuring the cars developed by the late Carroll Shelby.
“In 1962, the birth of the Shelby Cobra was at 1042 Princeton Ave. in Venice. We are celebrating Shelby American’s 50th anniversary this year, and the Santa Monica Pier is the perfect venue to honor some of the most iconic vehicles ever produced,” Richardson said. “We will also be honoring Carroll Shelby, who passed away this year at the age of 89.
“Shelby muscle cars were a limited edition series that were specifically modified by former professional race car driver Carroll Shelby. His company, Shelby American, operated out of that small shop in Venice from 1962 to 1964, when it relocated to a larger facility on Imperial Highway, adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport,” Richardson continued.
“Of special significance are the Cobra roadsters – King Cobra, Daytona Coupe, and Shelby Mustang GT-350, that were manufactured at Princeton Drive.”
In January, the approximately 11,000-square foot building that housed Shelby’s small shop in Venice was sold, along with two other office buildings totaling 23,000 square feet, at 1038-1040 Princeton Ave. for $3.5 million.
“The Cobras quickly developed from a lightweight sports car powered by a small block Ford V-8 to a fire-breathing monster with the installation of a Ford 500 horsepower NASCAR 427 cubic inch V-8, and the street competition Cobra was capable of going from 0 to 100 miles per hour and back to 0 in 12.5 seconds,” explained Richardson.
Richardson said that after Ford Motor Company approached Shelby to develop a race version of the newly introduced Mustang, the Shelby Mustang GT-350 was born in 1965 and immediately began breaking records on road race tracks everywhere.
The Shelby Mustangs continued until 1970, when Shelby terminated his agreement with Ford. In 2007, Shelby agreed to once again build Shelby Mustangs from his Las Vegas facility. Two years ago, Shelby unveiled his new Mustang version of the iconic GT-350 with over 500 horsepower.
This year’s Santa Monica car show guest of honor is championship driver Allen Grant. Grant started working at 1042 Princeton Drive as a welder, working his way up to production control manager, said Richardson.
“But Allen’s true passion was as a race car driver, so he convinced Coventry Motors in Walnut Creek, California, to purchase a Cobra that Allen could drive. Allen turned to his longtime friend, George Lucas (now famous for his cinema directing work) to paint the Cobra a brilliant yellow with black striping to make the Cobra stand out at the track,” Richardson explained.
“Allen immediately won races in the Cobra and achieved the recognition he sought from his boss, Shelby, who then recruited Allen to drive the now famous Cobra Daytona Coupe that won the World Manufacturer’s Championship on July 4, 1965 – the first time in history for an American-made car,” Richardson said.
The Shelby American Automobile Club, a nonprofit organization, sprang up in 1975, with the mission of preserving, caring for and collecting information about Shelby automobiles. The local Los Angeles chapter was founded 22 years ago with a core group of Shelby owners, each one still active in the club.
The group meets once a month to organize events such as racing at Willow Springs International Raceway, a charity fundraiser for the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific division’s toy giveaway each Christmas for hundreds of underprivileged kids in the Venice area, and for the annual Tony Sousa Car Show.