People always wonder why the survival rate of even exceptional collector cars is so low. If these cars are so special, why didn't someone take better care of them? This special-order Speed Yellow 1968 Shelby GT500KR is unquestionably a spectacular car, but it was almost lost forever and presents an interesting case study in seeing the forest for the trees. Literally hours away from the crusher, it was rescued by someone who recognized its greatness where others saw nothing but a burned-out shell of an old Mustang.
In 1978, even a Shelby GT500KR convertible (with AC!) was little more than a used car. Certain astute collectors at the time recognized that these were special cars, but they had not yet gathered the immense following they enjoy today. Even Carroll Shelby himself had turned his back on the Mustangs bearing his name years earlier, dismissing them as little more than interesting footnotes to the Mustang story. So when Shelby 03900 was stolen, stripped of its engine and transmission, then set on fire, there was no public outcry. And the original owner probably happily cashed the check the insurance company gave him as compensation. The stripped, burned-out carcass was hauled away to a local scrap yard called Twin Service in Anderson, Indiana, where it was scheduled to be crushed just like any other stripped, burned-out theft recovery. However, a sharp-eyed enthusiast spotted the body at Twin Service and immediately made his move. Noting the original Shelby fender tag was still intact and therefore knowing the car was a top-of-the-line GT500KR convertible, he arranged to purchase it for $500 just hours before it was slated to hit the crusher. He paid the wrecking service to drag the car to his home where he began an extensive restoration.
In 1978, you could still order Shelby parts directly from Ford, so all new fiberglass OEM pieces were purchased to replace those that were destroyed by the fire. Other missing parts were tracked down and added to the growing collection of NOS equipment that would restore 03900 to its original condition. Sadly, that never happened, as even in 1978, the resources required to restore a Shelby Mustang, never mind one that was burned, were substantial. Eventually the car and all its associated parts were sold, bouncing from collector to collector for almost 20 years. By the late '90s, it had become pretty clear that the cost of restoring the car was insignificant compared to the value of a finished product, so at least one previous owner made a heroic effort to restore the car using a donor vehicle to supply items like the correct black interior and other irreplaceable parts. His workmanship must have been very, very good, because the pros at Custom Classics, who re-restored the car several years later, could find no trace of fire damage.
When this Mustang landed at Custom Classics, many of the NOS parts acquired by the first restorer were still on the car and the remaining correct, authentic and original components were assembled to create an absolutely stunning convertible. The car itself is no less remarkable than its story. Originally delivered to Dallas, Texas, it carries special-order WT6066 yellow paint, factory AC, a C6 automatic transmission and a tilt steering column. It is 1 of only 20 Shelby convertibles painted WT6066 yellow and, of those, 1 of only 7 equipped with air conditioning. Custom Classics' spectacular restoration incorporated all the aforementioned NOS parts plus hundreds more that were painstakingly researched and properly date-coded. The paint is 2-stage urethane that exactly duplicates special order Bright Yellow and looks especially good under correct stripes and call-outs. Naturally, any flaws carried by the original fiberglass have been thoroughly exorcised (even after Ford took over Shelby production, the 'glass wasn't all that great). Panel alignment is exceptional, gaps are even all around and the car fits together better than any Mustang ever built by the factory.
Built for only nine months, all 1968 Shelby Mustangs were produced at Ford's Metuchen assembly plant and shipped as running knockdown units to A.O. Smith in Ionia, Michigan. And when it came to trimmings, A.O. Smith really knew their way around a muscle car. All of this pony's correct Shelby badges and lettering, including the awesome 428 Cobra Jet emblems, have been replaced with NOS or exact reproduction pieces. The tail panel, with correct Thunderbird sequential taillights, is beautifully finished in correct Argent Silver and, yes, those are real Lucas driving lights in the grille. Side marker lamps, new for 1968, are beautiful reproduction pieces, and the bumpers show better chrome than was humanly possible in 1968. All glass is new, stainless is polished and there's absolutely no detail on this drop-top that's been overlooked. The car is vastly nicer than new in every way!
The incredible detailing extends under the hood, where a rebuilt, date-correct 428 Cobra Jet looks right at home. Rated at 335 horsepower, it's no secret that the mighty CJ actually made around 410 horsepower and 440 lb./ft. of stoplight-slaying torque. Bathed in rich Ford Blue, this particular mill features correct "COBRA" valve covers, functional ram-air and a complete thermactor system. The engine bay is dominated by a massive compressor for the AC system, which is fully functional and blows ice cold. Correct hoses, clamps, wiring, and clips were used throughout the engine compartment, resulting in a highly accurate, concours-ready appearance. An original radiator is perched up front, with a reproduction Autolite battery cover doing a very good impersonation of the real thing. And the mean motor rumbles to life easily, pulling with an endless well of torque that absolutely incinerates those skinny Goodyear tires.
The chassis looks exactly factory correct as well. Red Oxide primer backs 'blown in' Bright Yellow paint, just like on the assembly line. The C6 automatic has been rebuilt and, like the engine, is correct for a Shelby GT500KR. Out back, there's a bulletproof Ford 9-inch that's fitted with 3.00 gears. Original factory markings have been reproduced, from the driveshaft balance stripes to the torque dobs on the suspension bolts. The original factory convertible reinforcements are in place. An exact reproduction exhaust system has been installed, complete with correct tips. A new gas tank hangs amid fully rebuilt brakes and suspension. Gorgeous 10-spoke Shelby alloys carry Goodyear bias-ply tires, although it appears that the car's spare is an original or NOS piece.
The interior remains the one transplanted by the previous restorer. And, since it's far more correct and accurate than any reproduction kit available today, Custom Classics decided to leave it as-is. The seats are deep and comfortable, and we're inclined to agree with Custom Classics in their assessment-the reproduction seat covers don't have pleats that are as deep as those on an original car, and these sure look authentic. The Shelby Cobra logo on the center armrest is crisp and clear and not overstuffed-looking like the reproductions, and the woodgrain pattern on the dash and center console is excellent. We have to believe the carpets are reproductions, and they are correct in material and ply, protected by a set of rubber floor mats. The Rim Blow steering wheel is just too nice not to be a restored piece. And the gauges have clearly been rebuilt, with crisp markings, deep black backgrounds and brilliant orange pointers.
In addition to being listed in the SAAC Registry with a known ownership history, original photos of this Mustang's scrapyard stay include images of an original Shel...for more information please contact the seller.