Shelby Terlingua Mustang
By Steve Statham
A cobra may be the mascot most closely associated with Carroll Shelby’s high-performance stable, but the wild rabbit from the Terlingua Racing Team logo comes in a close second.
For those new to Shelby lore (welcome!), Terlingua is a small town in a remote corner of West Texas. It was once a mining town, but had dwindled to ghost town status by the middle of the 20th Century. Then Carroll Shelby purchased a large ranch in West Texas that included the nearly forgotten village. It quickly became a hangout for ol’ Shel, where he and his buddies could hunt, ride motorcycles, and toss back a few adult beverages. He began hosting his famous chili cook-offs in Terlingua, putting the town back on the map in a big way.
It was during these after-hours sessions that the idea for the Terlingua Racing Team was cooked up. It was part joke and part Texan independent streak, during a time when so many of the big racing teams were becoming ever more buttoned down and corporate. And hey, if Ferrari could have a fancy prancing horse shield on his cars, why couldn’t the Terlingua Racing Team? Carroll Shelby’s pal Bill Neale came up with the design for “Lucifer”, the rabbit with the upraised paw, and a legend was born.
The Terlingua Racing Team may have started off as a winking dig at the conservative, established racing teams of the day, but Lucifer the rabbit and the Terlingua Racing Team logo soon found itself on a championship winning race car—the Jerry Titus Mustang that won the 1967 SCCA Trans-Am title. With its pale yellow paint, flat black hood, and black roof stripes, Titus’ Terlingua Racing Team Mustang became one of the most recognizable Shelby race cars from a decade full of them.
More recently, Shelby American has kept that heritage alive, with a modern twist.
During the Las Vegas years, Shelby has built two generations of late-model Terlingua Mustangs, centered around the 2007-2009 Mustangs, and the 2015-2017 Mustang GT. The idea behind the 2007-2009 Mustang Terlingua Racing Team Package was two-fold—celebrate the Terlingua heritage while also providing younger buyers with an affordable entry point for Shelby Mustang ownership. The Terlingua package was built around the lower-priced V-6 Mustang, and the base package included a free-flow exhaust, cold air intake, performance engine calibration, short-throw shifter, Ford Racing suspension, 18-inch Shelby wheels, and a fiberglass “deep draw” Shelby hood, plus Terlingua stripes and logos. Naturally, there was more available. The optional Performance Pack included a Paxton supercharger that boosted the V-6 to 375 horsepower, plus Shelby/Borla exhaust, Baer 6-piston brakes, and 20-inch wheels. The Terlingua package could be installed at Shelby headquarters or any authorized Mod Shop.
Bill Neale, who was there at the beginning, had a hand in developing the late-model package. “We wanted to create a V-6 Terlingua Racing Team Mustang to offer young people a big bang for their buck,” Neale said at the time of the car’s release.
If the 2007-2009 Terlingua Mustangs were designed for affordable performance, the 2015-2017 Shelby Terlingua Mustang is more reminiscent of the Trans-Am racing cars that carried the rabbit logo. The latest version was based on the Mustang GT with 5.0-liter V8, and comes standard with a yellow powder-coated Whipple supercharger good for 750 horsepower. The track-inspired Shelby Terlingua Mustang comes with Borla exhaust with black Shelby tips, Shelby by Eibach adjustable suspension, Shelby Brembo brakes front and rear, camber/caster plates, Shelby coilovers, 20-inch Weld Racing Venice wheels and more serous hardware.
Weight is kept in check thanks to generous use of carbon fiber body components, including a front splitter, special Terlingua hood with vents, rear spoiler, rear fascia diffuser and rocker panels. The option list is plentiful, including Sparco racing seats that Jerry Titus could only dream of back in ’67.