Ford Shelby Mustang GT 350/500 1965-1971 Retro Classic Cars Restoration – Mustang Shelby is a car with many names. Some people call it Ford Shelby Mustang, while others refer to the same car as GT350 and GT500. The first generation was produced by two car makers: Shelby in 1965 – 1966 and Ford in 1969 to 1970. After a hiatus of more than three decades long, Ford decided to bring the car back to the market in 2005, with a lot of modifications and improvements for sure, and currently it is still in production.
The first batch of Mustang Shelby came out of the factory in 1965, and every single of them was GT350. The car started as a stock 4-speed manual Mustang, which were shipped to Shelby American who then transformed it into 306 horsepower monster. There was only one engine option, the 4.7L Windsor V8 2-barrel. Obsessed with performance above all others, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 was light and without anything to make the driver comfortable inside. This was the car for true driving connoisseurs who needed neither radio nor air conditioning. Total production for 1965 model year was 562 units.
Starting in 1966, however, the car brought more equipment such as rear seats, optional automatic transmission, color options, and so on. Such designing cue continued to the subsequent production years, making the car bigger and heavier at the expense of competitiveness. Ford also helped with the marketing efforts by asking Hertz, a rental car giant, to purchase more than a thousand units. A small number of 1966 Mustang GT350 came with Paxton supercharger which increased power output to 440bhp compared to the 306bhp in standard model.
With the lack of obsession over performance, 1967 model year was even bigger than the previous one. Style was more important than power-ridiculousness, so Carroll Shelby would have to devise a solution. The idea was to use custom fiberglass front end to accommodate the long bonnet. It achieved the necessary weight reduction goal but without sacrificing the style aspect at the same time. In the comfort department, drivers could now utilize power steering and power brakes. Additional gauges were added to the dashboard and there was also a genuine functional roll-bar. Mustang Shelby grew to be more civilized and user-friendly. Engine option for the 1967 – 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 remained the same with 4.7L Windsor V8 2-barrel.
Despite the style-over-performance mindset, Ford and Shelby introduced something a little bit more serious, the Mustang GT500. The engine was much bigger with 7.0L V8. All in all, the 1967 Mustang Shelby GT500 was regarded as the right combination of performance and luxury, rather than a car designed merely to go fast without considering driver’s comfort. As it turned out, it was a smart move because the GT500 outsold the GT350 by nearly 2:1 ratio. In April 1968, a new variant of the same engine called Cobra Jet was available; any Mustang Shelby fitted with the pack was subsequently differentiated from others of the same breed with a KR moniker, standing for King of the Road. Strangely enough, the power was rated at only 335 horsepower, when in reality the car could produce way more than that.
At around the same time, it was believed that Shelby seemed to lose interest in racing cars now that he achieved great success with the Ford GT40 in 24 Hours of Le Mans. As a result, model year 1969 – 1970 was handled mostly by Ford alone and Shelby had only little input. Carroll Shelby actually terminated his agreement with Ford in summer of 1969. Unsold vehicles made in 1969 were given 1970 identification number.