Widow, children settle fight for body of Carroll Shelby

A settlement was reached in a bizarre custody battle between the children of automotive legend Carroll Shelby and the last of his seven wives that has left his body stuck in a Dallas County morgue for months.

Shelby, a famed auto designer, has been in the morgue since his death May 10. His children wanted to cremate him, and his surviving wife Cleo Shelby, 64, said she wanted to decide what happens to his remains. Both filed petitions in a Texas court for control of the body and a hearing was scheduled for later this month.

According to a representative of Cleo Shelby, her husband will be cremated as he requested prior to his death. Cleo Shelby will get 20% of his remains. Each of his three children will also get 20% and the last 20% will be buried in his parents’ family plot in Leesburg, Texas.

John Freeman, an attorney representing the Shelby children, confirmed that a settlement was reached but declined to discuss the details. He also would not provide a time frame for the cremation and distribution of remains except to say that “sooner than later would be the most appropriate thing.”

Shelby died at age 89 at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.


The fight for his body was the latest chapter in what had been a colorful life. He grew up in east Texas and attended high school in Dallas. He served as a flight instructor at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio during World War II. He started auto racing when he was 29 and his rapid successes and unique bib-overalls racing uniform made him a legendary figure before he retired at 37.

After retiring from the race circuit Shelby wanted to build an American sports car that could beat the best European models, and with the help of the British AC Bristol auto company he developed the Shelby Cobras that are now American cult cars.


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