- Ford 427ci V8
- Tremec TKO600 5-speed
- Moser 9-inch / 3.50 gears
- Upgraded suspension
- Shelby interior with updates
- Baer four-wheel disc brakes
- Alpine stereo system
- Air conditioning
In the world of collector cars, the Shelby name is synonymous with extreme performance and collectability. Enthusiasts that missed the early-buying boat have spent the last few decades running straight up a value curve that just won't quit rising. When the legend himself, Carroll Shelby, passed on last year, the demand for authentic Shelby pieces hit an all-time high. With many of the originals becoming museum pieces, smart enthusiasts who enjoy driving their vintage hardware are buying cars like this slick 1968 Shelby GT500 convertible tribute. Decked in full Shelby regalia with a hot 427 under the hood, this restored GT500 carries on the Shelby spirit by looking awesome and punishing pavement with the best of them. Sure, authenticity is great but it will be the last thing on your mind while rowing through the gears in this awesome convertible.
Appeal begins on the outside where the FoMoCo sheet metal has been massaged and added to for a more aggressive look. The panels are straight and fitment is excellent all around. Meadowlark Yellow was about as exciting as Ford's regular color options got in 1968, so this Mustang was shot with an even coat of Speed Yellow for a little extra flash. It's a bright color and one that accents the added Shelby lines well. Shelby offered no less than eight striping packages for the model year, there was no shortage of correct options to choose from. This convertible wears the traditional GT500 rocker stripes in white matched by racing stripes across the hood and decklid. The look is quintessential Shelby and sure to please any Ford enthusiast.
The original GT500 added fuel to the muscle car fire by not only adding power, but also introducing some of the coolest and most aggressive Mustang design cues ever created. At the leading edge of the car a pristine chrome bumper dissects a stainless trimmed Shelby-style grille which houses large driving lights. To the sides, clear, stainless-trimmed Ford-branded halogen headlights sit above two stainless trimmed bullet style parking lights. A showroom-fresh “Shelby” header panel script fronts a weight reducing Shelby-style fiberglass hood while, at the sides of the car, purpose-built race car attributes which include Shelby-style scoops and straight GT500KR decals combine with top-notch production detailing like factory fresh “427 Ford Cobra” fender emblems and dent free stainless rocker and wheel well moldings. At the top of the car, a fresh white vinyl top crawls from a Shelby-style decklid to the top of stainless trimmed like-new glass which is bordered by pristine chrome door handles and a chrome driver's side mirror. At the back of the car, a silver Shelby-style rear valence hangs a pristine chrome GT500 fuel filler and two bright segmented brake lights over a show worthy chrome bumper and clear, chrome-trimmed reverse lights.
According to the VIN, this car left Metuchen with a 230hp 302ci V8 – not a bad start but certainly not as good as the 427ci V8 planted between the fenders today. The foundation is a traditional cast iron block dressed in blue and topped with FoMoCo aluminum heads, an Edelbrock F427 intake, and a single Holley four-barrel carburetor. Up front, an MSD distributor sends spark through matching MSD wires while the front of the engine hosts pieces such as the aluminum Shelby water pump, open-face alternator, and new Sanden air conditioning compressor. The radiator looks factory-spec but a pair of electric fans have been added to help cool the bay. The exhaust system has also been upgraded with coated headers that connect to a stainless dual exhaust system capped off with Flowmaster mufflers. Despite the upgrades, presentation retains a factory feel. Black finned Cobra Le Mans valve covers cover the aluminum heads while a matching Cobra air cleaner assembly tops the carb. Details like the reproduction Shelby serial number, dual horns, and a reproduction Autolite battery further the look.
Put this Mustang on a lift to find an equally well restored undercarriage. The solid floor pans wear a coat of satin black paint which allows the new hardware to really pop. From underneath, the square Cobra oil pan continues the look started in the engine bay while a Tremec TKO600 5-speed manual transmission brings modern shifting to the vintage convertible. From there, power spins down the driveshaft and out to a sturdy Moser 9-inch rear end with 3.50 gears. The suspension stays true to factory form with A-arms up front and leaf springs out back, but there are a few thoughtful additions. Up front, a stout new sway bar works alongside a new manual rack-and-pinion to tighten up steering. Tubular subframe connectors strengthen the bond between front and rear while a matching sway bar and new shocks round out the back end. Braking comes courtesy of power-assisted Baer brakes that clamp down on slotted and drilled rotors all around. At the corners, 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich G-Force Sport tires play on the vintage Halibrand look.
Inside the car, a saddle leather interior seamlessly mixes Shelby styling with modern updates. Open the doors to find Shelby door sill plates anchoring plush tan carpet protected by pony-branded rubber floor mats. The saddle leather gives a nice aged look to the front and rear seats while the distinctive Shelby center console incorporates a chrome shifter alongside an aftermarket voltage gauge and clock. A dark, wood veneer anchors the console and repeats on both the door panels and the dashboard for a cohesive look throughout. From the driver seat, a wood-rim three-spoke steering wheel tops a Flaming River tilt column while a restored cluster features new AutoMeter Phantom gauges that track temperature, oil pressure, fuel, speed, and revs. From the HVAC controls and vents to the hardware and trim, everything presents with the gloss of a showroom car. In flight entertainment is provided by an Alpine AM/FM/CD head unit that sends signal to two JL 6.5-inch speakers in the rear and a center-mounted dash speaker up front. From the big pieces to the details like Shelby seat belts, this is a great place to log miles from.
When the basis of your build is one of America's favorite cars, you know the results are going to be great. With an authentic Shelby appearance and a modern Mustang feel, this car combines the style and class of yesterday with some of the best performance technology of today. For many people, the essence of the classic car hobby is to have fun with the hardware, and this scary-fast instantly recognizable classic is an absolute blast!
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