Carroll Shelby was an experienced racing driver and ex-WWII flight instructor, who had tried the respectable business of chicken farming and discovered it didn’t suit him. His heart was in sports cars, and so a health issue brought his motor-racing career to an unexpected end (a health issue that required him to slip a nitro-glycerin capsule under his tongue when he went racing) he decided to dare to take the gamble and try his hand at sports car building.
Carroll Shelby understood that it was beyond his means to simply create a new car but he also knew, from his racing contacts, about potential cars that could serve as the basis for what he wanted to build. Over in Britain was a small specialist sports car maker called AC who were building a model called the AC Ace. It was intelligently designed and handled beautifully, but suffered from the great malaise of most British sports cars, it did not have a big thumping American V8 engine burbling under its svelte aluminum hood.