Meet Your Heroes: Shelby Aurora CAN-AM

Shelby launched the CAN-AM spec series back in 1991. By most accounts the cars were lightweight, planted, and delivered thrilling performance, despite the fact that the 3.3 liter V6 engine powering them was probably more at home under the hood of a Dodge Caravan than at Road America. All the same, the spec racer found some takers and even ran as an SCCA pro series for six years. It was a fun thing, sure– but it could hardly be considered a worthy successor to the original, hairy-chested Can-Am series of the 1970s. The car you see here, though? That’s different.

Meet the one-of-a-kind Aurora V8 CAN-AM race car. Stuffed chock full of the same 4.0 liter Oldsmobile V8 that was pushing IndyCars around the big ovals of the era, this car was the loud, barking, spiritual successor to the original Can-Am cars enthusiasts dream of! Or, it would have been. Maybe.

See, the thing is, this one-off racer was never raced in anger. The car spent some time in testing at Willow Springs, but was mothballed soon after- left to gather dust in Carroll Shelby’s garage. It’s too bad, too. In IRL spec and pumped full of alcohol, these engines were good for 700 HP. More than enough, in other words, to live up to the CAN-AM name on their flanks.

Painted in Centennial Silver to honor the Oldsmobile brand’s 100th anniversary in 1009, the car was recently put up for auction at Bonham’s, where it managed to fetch 108,000USD. Not bad for a bespoke racing car built for and owned by the world’s fastest chicken farmer, I think!

What about you? Check out the original Bonham’s listing, below, then let us know if you think the chicken man’s own CAN-AM race car is worth the final bid in the comments section at the bottom of the page.



    • From the personal car collection of Carroll Shelby
    • The only Shelby Aurora V8 CAN-AM race car
    • Designed for the Shelby CAN-AM series
    • Incredible power to weight ratio

    In 1990, Shelby returned to his racing roots and designed a Dodge-powered CAN-AM spec race car. The cars were designed to be an inexpensive way for people to enter the racing scene. The chassis were built by Racefab Inc. of Rusk, Texas and housed a 3.3 liter 60 degree Dodge V6 in a special racing configuration making 255 hp. Originally, the plan was to produce two versions of this car, with the 255 hp version for the entry circuit and a significantly more powerful 500 hp model for the brave. Since all the cars were identical, the winners were to be the people with the best talent, not the team with the most funding. The engines had Shelby seals on them, ensuring that they could only be repaired by Shelby and that all the engines stayed mechanically identical.

    The first race was a demonstration event during the SCCA National Championship Runoffs. The Shelby Can-Am class, and a pro series were launched by the SCCA in 1991. The pro series ran for (an additional) six years (starting in 1992).



    The Shelby Aurora V8 Can-Am car is a 1 of 1 configuration that was built by Shelby as a concept for the up-rated 500hp Can-Am racer. The car was built using the powerful 32 valve DOHC V8 that was used in the Shelby series 1. Paying homage to the engine supplier, the lightweight body was painted in Oldsmobile Centennial Silver. The Shelby Aurora V8 car is the only one of its kind built by Shelby and, aside from the time spent testing at Willow Springs, it has laid dormant in Carroll’s collection.

    When considering the car’s incredible provenance and amount of fun it would be on the track, it is hard to think of a better weekend toy. In addition to the bragging rights of owning a one off Shelby race car, the car is being offered with a Shelby vehicle authenticity certificate, certifying that the car was owned by the man, himself.


Source | More Photos: Bonhams, via Silodrome.