Written by independent automotive journalist Steve Statham
The late, great Carroll Shelby knew exactly what drivers wanted in his cars: The basic style of a Mustang, but with vastly superior accelerations, braking, handling and, yes, appearance.
Shelby began modifying first-generation Mustangs by creating the small-block GT350 in 1965. But within three years, Ford had a new body style for its groundbreaking pony car and something else buyers found appealing: a big-block motor.
So while you could still get a GT350 in 1968, Ol’ Shel upped the ante with the bodacious GT500, which featured Ford’s ground-pounding 428ci, 360-horsepower engine under the hood.
Armed with the 428, the GT500 was a top performer during the golden age of muscle cars. When introduced in ’68, the GT500 turned in 0 to 60 miles per hour times of 6.2 seconds, with a top speed of more than 130 mph. These were serious performance cars, something Shelby himself insisted on and, of course, something that buyers wanted.
The GT500, especially in convertible form, was a real rarity in 1968. That year, Ford manufactured 317,404 Mustangs, which were the basis for Shelby’s cars. But in 1968, Shelby built just 1,542 GT500s, only 402 of which were convertibles. That means of the already rare ’68 GT500s, roughly one in four had the highly desirable convertible top. Shelby built a total of 4,450 cars during the 1968 run, which included the GT350, GT500 and GT500KR model. One fine example of the GT500, which is selling at No Reserve as Lot #714 during the 2018 Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction, is #2701 of those 4,450.
The 1968 model year was the first for Shelby GT500 convertibles in regular production. These models came with significant upgrades over lesser Mustangs. In addition to the 428 engine, there was a roll bar, a new hood design with twin scoops, rectangular driving lights built into the front grille and, out back, sequential rear turn signals.
Also new in ’68 was the location where Shelbys were manufactured. From 1965-67, Shelby production took place in Los Angeles, but for ’68, Ford contracted with the A.O. Smith company in Michigan to do the conversion work, which including equipping Shelbys with fiberglass hoods, scoops and other unique body parts.
Trimmed in gleaming silver and contrasting black stripes over a black bucket seat interior, this particular Shelby GT500 – part of the John Staluppi Cars of Dreams Collection – was originally delivered to S&C Motors in San Francisco and it is listed in the Shelby Registry. It also comes with a full Marti Report from Kevin Marti, one of the world’s foremost authorities on vintage Ford and Shelby products.
In 2006, this GT500 was restored to a very high standard to bring it to the beautiful condition it is in today. Under the hood, you’ll find the 428ci engine, along with dual Holley carburetors and the famed Cobra logo on the air cleaner and valve covers.
Not only is this Shelby stunning looking, it drives exceptionally well, thanks to a number of thoughtfully added features, including an upgraded 4-speed transmission, power top with glass window, dual electric fans, Vintage Air, wheel lip moldings and tilt-away steering column.
One of just 402 built, this real-deal 1968 Shelby GT500 convertible is rare, is gorgeous and is going to sell to the highest bidder. Don’t sleep on this one.
For up-to-date information on this vehicle, click HERE.