1999 Shelby Series 1 Roadster Is Our Bring a Trailer Auction Pick

1999 shelby series 1 front three quarters
1999 Shelby Series 1 Bring a Trailer
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Car and Driver

Carroll Shelby is a legend, but not everything he built was legendary. Case in point: The Series 1 roadster he designed and engineered in the '90s. The car's journey to production was riddled with complications and setbacks, with Shelby American eventually churning out just 249 copies, and one of them is currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer, which—like Car and Driver—is part of Hearst Autos.

Cobra Connection

Just because the 1999 Shelby Series 1, pictured here in Centennial Silver with Garnet Red metallic stripes, didn't quite live up to the ambitious goals set by its iconic creator doesn't mean it's still not cool as hell. Just look at the thing. Its resemblance to the original Shelby Cobras is undeniable, and that curvy bodywork is said to be extremely lightweight, as it's made of carbon fiber and fiberglass. The Series 1 had a claimed curb weight of 2650 pounds.

1999 shelby series 1 rear three quarter
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The Playskool-like interior isn't so attractive. In fact, it's pretty embarrassing for a car that once cost about the same as a Ferrari 360 Spider when both were new. Close inspection reveals parts from a fourth-generation Pontiac Firebird; one need look no further than the retrofitted gauge cluster, HVAC controls, and door handles to spot the connection.


Still, no one who bought a Series 1 likely expected a luxury interior—or apparently one that had any cupholders or storage space whatsoever. The roadster was also notoriously unfriendly to driver's over six feet tall, as the standard seating positions put the top of the windshield directly in their line of sight.

shelby series 1 interior
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Powered by Oldsmobile

It's kind of funny to think a car as expensive and performance-focused as the Shelby Series 1 would share an engine with a front-wheel-drive Oldsmobile Aurora, but that's exactly where its DOHC 4.0-liter V-8 was sourced from.

Without the optional Vortech supercharger, which is said to have been a nearly $20K add-on, the standard engine in the Series 1 produced 320 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. Sending that power to the rear wheels is a six-speed manual transaxle, and the eight-cylinder soundtrack was delivered through a Borla exhaust system with a set of prominent tailpipes poking out the back.

1999 shelby series 1 engine
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Back in 2000, Car and Driver icon Brock Yates reviewed a 1999 Shelby Series 1 that looks identical to the example currently up for auction. Despite mechanical snafus during two separate tests, the supercharged roadster shot to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and cleared the quarter-mile in 13.0 seconds at 112 mph. Its Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, size 265/40R18 up front and 315/R18 out back, helped it post 0.92 g of grip on the skidpad. Every Series 1 also had race-car-derived pushrod suspension.

Yet its impressive performance and sophisticated chassis weren't enough to offset its other shortcomings, with Yates summarizing the car like this: "The Shelby Series 1 is essentially a superb concept but remains a work in progress. When all the bugs are worked out, we're eagerly awaiting another call from the man whose name is on this interesting but still unproved sports car."

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