A fitting tribute to the iconic LeMans racer

LISTEN 05:27

Carroll Shelby certainly created a name for himself in the 1960s, not the least of his accomplishments being the 1-2-3 win at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1966. That marked the first time an American car had won the iconic race. Shelby’s fame as a car builder skyrocketed in the fallout. To help celebrate the Shelby on his 85th birthday, Shelby Distribution USA and Shelby Automobiles reproduced 255 examples of the GT40 race car for the 2009 model year.

The car was offered the three color schemes, each mimicking the three racing liveries that saw action in the 1966 Le Mans race. In total, 85 examples of each were built. Each car could customized to have either left- or right-hand drive, and were completely road-legal. Each car received a Shelby Automobiles MSO and sales were recorded in the Shelby Registry, making the whole process even more historical. A dash plaque records each car’s build number and authenticity as a legitimate and licensed replica.

The design of the replica Ford GT40 is an exact copy of the originals’, though these 2009 examples were constructed from electro-galvanized sheet steel. This helps prevent rust, ensuring each car lasts for decades to come. The pieces were also laser cut to the exact measurements of the originals.

The only kicker to the MKII GT40 – it was only offered without an engine. Yep, in order to skirt emissions and crash testing regulations, the car was sold as a rolling chassis. Customers were expected to install their own engine, which of course, should only be a 427 Ford V-8. Anything else would be heresy. Those who wanted to track their Shelby MKII GT40 could opt for the available race version. The package included a roll bar, fuel cell, and air conditioner delete.

Continue reading for the full review


2009 Shelby MkII GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 245575
2009 Shelby MkII GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 245573
2009 Shelby MkII GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 245577

Only an eagle-eyed GT40 expert could tell the difference between these reproductions and the original. The 2009 examples featured an exact copy of the racer’s monocoque unibody structure and pressed steel roof. The three color options included Arcadian Blue with whites stripes, black with silver stripes and red with white stripes. Each color scheme was limited to a production of 85 examples, totaling the 255-unit cap.

Since this reproduction so closely mimics the original, it’s undeniably beautiful. The sloping front end with its flowing fenders and large air intake and vent swoop over the large windshield. The body lines the slope over the mid-mounted engine and the car’s twin side air scoops. A tall spoiler out back and truncated rear end help the car cut through the air, just as the original GT40 did in 1966.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 95 Inches
Length 163 Inches
Height 40.5 Inches
Width 70 Inches
Track (f/r) 57 Inches/56 Inches
Ground Clearance 4.125 – 4.75 Inches
Curb Weight 2,400 LBS
Weight Distribution: f/r 40/60 percent


Like the outside, the interior was designed to perfectly match the original GT40. The dash, seats, and four-point racing harness are all in place, as is the 14-inch, quick-release steering wheel. Smith gauges line the dashboard, giving the driver a low-down on what’s happening in the engine bay. The original style seats come with the old-school rivets and leather coverings. In all, the replica’s interior is a spitting image of the original racers’.

Drivetrain & Suspension

2009 Shelby MkII GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 245579

Behind the cabin lies an empty space the customer is expected to fill. Granted, the engine bay is designed to only fit a Ford V-8, specifically the 427 monster similar to the one powering the original GT40. Expect horsepower numbers of a well-tuned example to exceed the 500-horsepower mark.

The GT40’s running gear, on the other hand, is present and accounted for. The original style independent suspension system utilizes unequal length A-arms with coil-overs comprised by H&R springs and Bilstein shocks. The fully adjustment suspension offers owners to track their cars to dial things in. The ride height can also be adjusted from 4.125 to 4.75 inches. Thick front and rear anti-roll bars keep body motions under control.

Wilwood brakes do the stopping, with 12.75-inch rotors and four-piston calipers residing behind each tire. Speaking of which, the cars came with BFGoodrich g-Force Drag Radial tires sized in 225/50/15 up front and 275/60/15 out back. The tires mount on original style 15-inch Halibrand wheels.


2009 Shelby MkII GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 245571

The 85th commemorative Shelby MKII GT40 is a fantastic tribute to the legendary Carroll Shelby. His vision in building the GT40 won America its first LeMans race, and later created other racing legends like the Shelby Cobra and Daytona Coupe. Shelby’s name lives on today thanks to Ford’s continual use of his name on top-shelf Mustangs.

Though Ford has built two separate iterations of the GT40 – the first in 2006 and the second in 2017 – the original still holds the most historical value. It will be a design that stands the test of time as an icon in the automotive and racing industries.

  • Leave it
    • No engine included
    • Still limited availability with 255 produced
    • Not as valuable as the original
Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
About the author


Press release

In celebration of Carroll Shelby’s 85TH birthday Shelby Distribution USA under license from Shelby Licensing and in partnership with Shelby Automobiles Inc. will reproduce the three dominating Shelby American GT40® race cars that accomplished one of the greatest feats in American automotive racing history into a street legal vehicle that can be driven or simply collected. These rolling chassis will receive a Shelby Automobiles Inc. MSO and will be recorded in the Shelby Registry along with the Safir GT40 Spares LLC assigned licensed mark, identification number and registry that reflects these cars as newly manufactured variants of the original GT40®.

The GT40®’s chassis is a near-exact replication of the original race car’s monocoque unibody structure down to the pressed steel roof. The only departure is the use of electro-galvanized sheet steel in the construction. The chassis, at over 12,000 pounds per degree, is stiffer than any other chassis on the market, and is made of over 244 laser cut and bent or pressed parts.


The Shelby 85th Commemorative GT40® is built to accommodate only a Shelby branded engine. The top of the line engine includes the Shelby 427FE V8.

Original Style Suspension

The Shelby 85th Commemorative GT40® features an original style fully independent suspension system utilizing an unequal length A-arm design. The coilover system utilizes H&R springs and Bilstein shocks that are fully adjustable as well as the front and rear anti-roll bars. Ride height can be changed from 4.125 to 4.75 inches.


Incredible braking performance is achieved through vented Wilwood super light brakes. Both front and rear brakes feature 12.75" discs and 4-piston calipers. Original style 15-inch Halibrand wheels are wrapped with high performance BFGoodrich g-Force Drag Radial tires, 225/50/15 front, 275/60/15 rear.


The interior features original style seats with rivets and 4-point racing harness seat belts. A racing style dash features Smith gauges, and the pedal box, instruments, quick-release 14-inch steering wheel, and dash accurately replicate the original.

Unique 85th Commemorative Edition GT40® Features

The MKII Shelby GT40®’s will be based on the following cars. Only 85 of each color will be issued.

  • Car #1, Chassis P/1015: Arcadian Blue, White Stripes/Dark Blue borders, and Dayglo Red Fender Flashes
  • Car #2, Chassis P/1046: Black with solid Silver Stripes and White Roundels
  • Car #3, Chassis P/1047 Red with solid White Stripes and Roundels

Features Include:

  • Record sale into the Shelby Registry
  • Shelby MSO and dash plaque
  • Carroll Shelby engraved door handles
  • Carroll Shelby etched left and right front headlight covers
  • Roundels with 85 number decals
  • Leather seating
  • Hood wind diffusers
  • CS GT40® numbered plaque
  • CS GT40® side sill graphics
  • Carroll Shelby signature floor and sill mats
  • 85th Commemorative hood badge
  • 85th Special Edition decal
  • Available in right and left hand drive


Available Race Version

While the standard Shelby 85th Commemorative GT40® is as close to a race car as one can get to driving on the street, a race version is also available. This package comes with a roll bar, fuel cell and A/C delete.

Vehicle specifications

Wheelbase: 95"
Length: 163"
Height: 40.5"
Width: 70"
Track (f/r): 57"/56"
Ground Clearance: 4.125" – 4.75"
Curb Weight: 2400 lbs
Weight Distribution: f/r: 40/60%

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: