The Shelby Can-Am is a car that was developed in 1989 for a single-make racing series designed to pick up after the original Can-Am series disappeared after the 1987 season.
The development of the new car was overseen by Carroll Shelby, and the body was designed by none other than Pete Brock – the same pairing responsible for the Le Mans winning Shelby Daytona Coupe (surviving examples of which now sell for $7+ million USD).
The tubular spaceframe chassis was designed by David Bruns and built by Racefab Inc. from Rusk, Texas, and originally fitted with a 3.3 liter 60 degree Dodge V6 in high-performance configuration making 255 hp.
The plan for the Shelby Can-Am Series was to offer two classes – a 255 hp entry-level class an a 500 hp pro-level class. Initially it was started off with the lower powered engines, and the first full SCCA sanctioned season took place in 1991 with 20 drivers lining up on the grid.
The Shelby Can-Am would run from 1991 to 1996, giving a start in racing to drivers like Scott Harrington, Memo Gidley, Kyle Konzer, and Mike Davies.
The end of the series in 1996 wouldn’t spell the end for the cars – 28 of which were bought and shipped to South Africa to create a new single-make championship. The South Africans swapped out the Dodge V6 engines that were starting to show their age, and replaced them with the 300 hp Nissan Z350 unit.
This new engine would be accompanied with newly designed bodywork from the 2008 season onwards, giving the cars an appearance far closer to modern-day Le Mans Prototypes. The South African series appears to have wound up in 2014 or 2015, but many of the cars remain in the country, and there is some talk of reviving the class in the future.
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