Carroll Shelby Used a Screwdriver To Sign the Hood of this CSX Prototype

1988 shelby csx prototype vehicle
You Could Save This Neglected Shelby PrototypeFacebook

The Carroll Shelby name may forever be linked with high-performance Ford products, but the Blue Oval isn’t the only American brand to receive some of that legendary go-fast treatment. Chrysler and Shelby worked together on a number of vehicles throughout the 1980s, culminating with the Shelby CSX-VNT in 1989. One of only two prototypes for that final Shelby-Chrysler collaboration has just popped up for sale on Facebook Marketplace.

The CSX came at the tail end of Chrysler’s relationship with Shelby for 1987, following work on models like the GLH-S, Daytona, and Dakota. The car was based on the Dodge Shadow, and came equipped with a Shelby-specific version of the brand’s 2.2-liter turbo-four. Thanks to the intercooler and plenty of boost, the motor provided 175 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The Shelby treatment also brought upgraded shocks and brakes borrowed from the Daytona project. In a very Henry Ford approach, customers could only have the CSX painted in black. Only 750 examples were sold.

1988 shelby csx prototype vehicle engine shot with hood up showing dirty condition

This particular car, a 1988 Shelby CSX, would serve as one of two prototypes for the CSX-VNT model that debuted the following year. The car was named for the new Garrett variable-nozzle turbo now attached to the 2.2-liter motor, marking the first use of variable turbine technology in a production car. Horsepower remained unchanged, but the new turbo design helped the Shelby make a healthy 205 lb-ft of torque. A Getrag five-speed manual was the sole gearbox option. The cars received suspension adjustments beyond CSX, as well as a more aggressive alignment from the factory. The CSX-VNT would also be the first production vehicle to use composite wheels, a trend continued by Ford’s Shelby-branded products today. The cars were all painted in Exotic Red in an effort to further differentiate them from the standard CSX. Only 500 were built, including the two prototypes.


This prototype, HP42213X7, was previously purchased from Carroll Shelby at his 1994 Newport Beach Historic Garage Sale auction. Shelby had the VIN numbers removed from the car ahead of the sale, leaving only the prototype makers in place. While this made the car ineligible for road registration, the racing legend made up for it by signing the hood with a screwdriver. The car would sell again at a Barrett-Jackson auction in 2008, where it brought a hammer price of $33,000. It would appear the car has had a rough go since the Recession however, as its current condition isn’t what you’d call stellar. The listing seller states that the car was stored outside for a large portion of that time, resulting in the paint fading you see here. Shelby’s signature on the hood isn’t visible in the listing, though it's unclear if the car retains the same hood. The original Goodyear Eagle tires have also been ruined by the elements, which would’ve been nice for displaying the car. Thankfully, the prototype Shelby cylinder head that Carroll included in the initial sale is still with the car. That said, the asking price of just $23,000 reflects the degradation. That’s not a ton of scratch to take home a genuine Shelby prototype, regardless of which model it may be.

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