The stir the Shelby Mustangs have made in the hobby over the years has been huge. Of all Mustangs, these heady beasts have the greatest impact on the marketplace and the show field-even greater than the Boss cars we peeked at last month.
What drives this desire by most-if not all-Mustang enthusiasts to lust after these sometimes hairy-chested beasts that Carroll cranked out of his Los Angeles and finally the Ionia, Michigan, plants? The answer is as varied as it would be for any Mustang, but surely it just boils down to a couple of things: first, is value. The Shelby GT350 and GT500 hold their value well. Even when the old-car market goes soft, the Shelby does well. The second reason is jazz. The Shelby has that "certain something" that stops people in their tracks at a show and makes them want to take a closer look. This is especially true where the average joe is concerned in regard to the '67-and-up GT350 and GT500. To the typical car guy, these Shelbys are markedly different from the Mustang herd.
So we are going to delve into the things that make a Shelby "Shelby," and we'll even give some values and tips on where to go if you are interested in these cars.
The First And The Last (Sort Of)The two cars on our cover were found serendipitously. We have walked down hundreds of rows of cars and never had this kind of thing happen. Our original goal was to find a nice '65 GT350 for the cover. What we got was well above our expectations. At the Mustangs Northwest Mustang Round-up sat not just the "perfect" car, but two cars that represent the beginning and the end of Shelby American's production of the Mustang from 1965 through 1970. So, we did what any red-blooded American photographer would do-we begged them to let us shoot their cars. Odd that we didn't have to beg too hard.
The '65 GT350, owned by Dave Lennartz of Brush Prairie, Washington, is none other than 003. The very first one-numero uno. So, why was it number three? Well, the car started life as the Shelby Press and PR car to promote interest in the Shelby Mustang program. It was built first, but it wasn't really serialized (outside of the 001 on the cowl for press shots). It had a number of oddities that made it unsaleable. For instance, the scoop on the hood was clay, it had the quarter-windows that would not see actual production until 1966, and the side stripes were painted on. There were other niggling details, but the aforementioned were the "majors." After these were worked out, Chuck Catwell of Shelby American serialized the car as 5S003. The configuration in which Dave shows the beast is its "as-raced condition," and believe us when we say the Shelby has the stones. For a peek at the car, check out www.mustangmonthly.com. For a breakdown of how this Shelby was equipped, see the sidebar "What They Were."
Larry McEwen of Bothell, Washington, and his '70 GT500 were nestled in right beside Dave and his GT350. Though his Shelby is not the last GT500 built, it's close enough for us. And he only misses having the highest serial number Shelby by 154 cars. That's not bad.
The car is typical for a GT500 from Shelby's last year. The Competition Orange GT500 packs a 428 Cobra Jet, four-speed, and 3.50:1 Traction-Lok rear axle. Cushy options include a fold-down rear seat, an AM/FM stereo, tinted glass, and a power antenna. The car was first bought by a woman from Wisconsin who kept the 38,428 mile jewel until 1988 when she let go of the big-block beast. From there it changed hands twice before landing in Larry's garage. "I get a tremendous amount of support from my family," Larry says. "My wife, Kristi, has helped support the hobby financially as well by giving up her garage space." You can also see Larry's GT500 wheeling past our tiny camera at www.mustangmonthly.com.