With Shelby Automobiles bringing back GT500s, Hertz rent-a-racers, the KR series, and even the fabled Super Snake, the return of the Terlingua nameplate to the '08 Shelby lineup isn't a big surprise. It's definitely a pleasant one for Shelby enthusiasts-no question about it. The big surprise is that, in addition to the '08 Terlingua V-6 Mustang, Shelby is planning to build a "continuation" series '67 Terlingua Mustang. Shelby Automobiles unveiled both cars, along with a CSX4000 series 427 Cobra in Terlingua colors, at a press conference/party last November at the SEMA show.
Our trips to photograph and gather information on the Mustangs began with a visit to Keith Craft Motorsports in Dallas. There, Rob Camp showed us the '67 Terlingua coupe, painted and lettered like one of the original Terlingua race cars of the '60s. Bill Neale, famous automotive artist and life-long pal of Carroll Shelby, drew the original Terlingua logo. He still lives near Dallas.
Late-model Mustang drag-racing fans will recognize the name Keith Craft, who is most often associated with Keith Craft Inc., a builder of racing engines in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. However, Keith Craft Motorsports in Dallas builds early hot rods and late-model restomods, including Mustangs.
Rob is a managing partner at Keith Craft Motorsports. He worked at a Ford dealership for more than 20 years and received the Ford Senior Master Technician Certificate. He gets grease under his fingernails and knows how to build cars. "Shelby Autos asked us to build this Mustang as a prototype," Rob says. "The car had to be completed for the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, so we built it from the ground up in 82 days."
This was a Friday, and SEMA began the following Monday. The coupe already resembled a show car. We marveled along with Rob when he said, "Three and a half weeks ago, this '67 coupe was sitting on my lift as an empty body shell."
The '67 is a serious street-legal Mustang. Underhood, the Keith Craft-built 408ci V-8 turns out 525 hp. According to Keith Craft's Web site, "Only a few of these cars, with an MSRP beginning at approximately $99,500, will be built annually under contract by Keith Craft Motorsports. Each will receive a Shelby serial number that will be registered in an official Shelby Automobiles registry."
Late that Friday morning, Bill arrived at Keith Craft Motorsports' shop in Plano, Texas. Rob says that Bill took such an interest in the car that he personally applied the decals to the front fenders. He wanted this car to be right.
Bill was obviously excited about the project. Right away, he jumped in the driver seat and laid down some rubber in the parking lot. On his return, Bill explained how the Terlingua project got off the ground. "Shelby heard we weren't going to do anymore restomod '66s," he says, referring to the '66 Terlingua coupes that he had licensed in early 2004 to Dallas Mustang Parts ("Terlingua Rides Again," July '04, pg. 44). That deal is over, with just four or five built, according to Bill.
"Shelby was in my studio and said, 'Neale, why don't we do some Terlingua cars?' The next thing I know, Amy [Boylan] calls. Then she comes down to spend a couple days with us. We talked and talked. I said, 'OK, let's do it.' Out of that came this '67. The people at Keith Craft did a great job."
Amy Boylan, of course, is president of Shelby Automobiles in Las Vegas. She's the fireplug that gets the wheels turning, literally.
We were familiar with the '67 Terlingua of the '60s, but we were anxious to see the treatment Shelby gave the '08 Terlingua Mustang. We wondered how they molded the theme onto a Gen 5 coupe. In Dallas, all we heard was that the new Mustang carried a reverse paint scheme from the '67. Instead of the infamous Gawdawful Yellow with black hood and stripes. The '08 is the reverse in color, but Shelby will still offer Gawdawful Yellow with black stripes.