Origins and History of the Shelby – De Tomaso P70 Can-Am Sports Racer
In this book I cover my years at Shelby American with a focus on the time I spent in Modena, Italy designing the Shelby – De Tomaso P70 for Carroll Shelby, a car planned for the emerging Can-Am series.
Working in Modena was one of the best experiences of my life. I started to write the history and creation of the P70, and the stunning body construction techniques I learned from the Italian artisans, when I realized I had to put the car in context of this incredible time period and also describe what was happening with Carroll’s numerous projects, racing and the other cars I was designing.
I share the transition from the Cobra’s first appearance in ‘62 to its championship in ’63, through to the King Cobra USRRC race period to the transition to Can-Am. Shelby’s every move was well thought out and intentional, all with the ultimate goal of getting Ford’s lucrative GT40 program but having contingency plans in case it didn’t happen. Shelby’s venture with Alejandro de Tomaso on the P70 was one of those contingencies.
Looking back, these few short years turned out to be some of the most interesting and innovative in sports racer history. The quest to understand and harness air flow and ground effects led to amazing creativity. The Can-Am race series showcased it to the world.
My designs during this period at Shelby’s included the FIA World GT Champion Daytona Cobra Coupe, the Shelby GT350 Mustang, the Lang Cooper, the Nethercutt Mirage, Shelby’s Can-Am spec racer as well as the Shelby – De Tomaso P70. I give the inside story of each and the pivotal role talented driver Dave MacDonald played in Shelby’s plans.
I trust you will also enjoy the details and photos I share of how the P70 body was built with the unique techniques of the talented craftsmen of Modena and how, even though Shelby cancelled the project near its end, the P70 launched de Tomaso into the spotlight. — Peter Brock