FAMOUS RACE CARS! AUTHENTIC MINIATURES!                                         
Shelby Turbine (1969)

Shelby Turbines in Spectraflame red (L) and brown (R).

The Shelby Turbine was one of four open-wheel Indy cars released in 1969 as part of the new Grand Prix Series.

During the winter of 1966-67, the Granatelli brother's STP team built a radical new race car powered by a turbine engine.  At the time, such an engine was allowed under USAC rules.  Parnelli Jones, 1963 Indianapolis 500 champion, was hired to drive the car.  In the 1967 Indianapolis 500, Jones led 171 laps, but a $6 bearing burned out on lap 197.  The STP Turbine, referred to by some as the "pregnant guppy" might have been what the Mattel designer had in mind.  For 1968, the Granatellis turned to Lotus for another try with turbine engines.  The designer of the original STP turbine car, Ken Wallis, approached Carroll Shelby and convinced him to build a turbine car for the 1968 Indianapolis 500.  Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren were to drive the new Shelby Turbines, but they were quietly withdrawn before the race.  After the 1968 pre-race crash of a Lotus Turbine that killed driver Mike Spence, Shelby announced that turbine engines were too powerful and could never be made to work safely in automobiles.  However, the withdrawl of the cars likely had more to do with Shelby's discovery that a design flaw in Wallis' turbine engine left it without sufficient power.  One of the Shelby Turbine cars was later used as a promotional  vehicle for Paul Newman's movie "Winning".

 Parnelli Jones driving the 1967 STP Turbine (L); Denny Hulme in the 1968 Shelby turbine car (R).

As with all four Indy cars, the Shelby Turbine was produced only by the Hong Kong factory.  It features a blue-tinted windscreen (as do all HK cars) and a silver-painted intake vent to the side of the driver's cockpit.   Shelby Turbines were painted with a variety of Spectraflame colors and included a small "Hot Wheels" decal on the right side of the car.  A waterslide decal sheet with racing numbers and sponsors logos was included in the blister pack.

Most Shelby Turbines have black interiors, but occasionally tan interiors can be found.  White interiors are quite rare and have only been found in red cars.  Early production cars have bearing (white hub) style wheels, while later runs have cap style wheels.  While the three other Indy cars had medium wheels in front and large wheels in the rear, Shelby Turbines had large wheels all around.

A rare white interior Shelby Turbine.

Shelby Turbines with clear windscreens and white interiors are prototype cars and are quite valuable.  Some prototypes had plastic snap-on fuel tanks.  These were developed to enable the four Indy cars to run on flat tracks with the Supercharger accessory.  However, the tanks never made it into production and blister packs containing Indy cars carried a label stating that the cars were intended only "for gravity action sets!"

Above: prototype Shelby Turbines in purple and aqua (B. Rosas).

A green Shelby Turbine with prototype snap-on fuel tanks.

Proto tanks: click here to see real deal vs. repro...

Shelby Turbine Color chart

blue common
red common
aqua common
purple common
copper hard to find
rose ("watermelon")
hard to find
light green
very rare

A rare light green Shelby Turbine in a cut blister pack!

A beautiful blue Shelby Turbine still in the blister pack!

Ted Gray's awesome group of Shelby Turbines!

A Shelby Turbine rainbow!


Original images are the property of Rick Wilson. Private use of original images is allowed. Non-profit, non-commercial publication of original images is allowed only with prior expressed written consent from Rick Wilson. For other commercial, for-profit or redistribution needs, please contact the site owner.  This site is not affiliated with Mattel, Inc.

 © 2004 by Rick Wilson. All Rights Reserved.