Shane Whiting did a fantastic job restoring Ted Kitten's '67 GT500. Despite the various show awards and accolades, one might say Shane restored this Shelby to "fair" condition.
In April 1967, Shelby American shipped four new '67 Shelbys, two GT350s, and two GT500s to Seville, Spain, for the Feria De Sevilla, a "festival of tents" exposition. One of the big-blocks was Kitten's GT500, No. 1191. We got the chance to talk to Kitten at the Mid-America Ford and Shelby Meet in Oklahoma.
Ted was there with Shane, who restored the car at his Whiting Restoration shop in Oconta, Wisconsin. Shane told us about the tar buildup from the Spanish roads, which coated the undercarriage and saved the factory suspension markings. Coupled with Spain's mild weather, the Shelby was preserved rust-free.
Ted had been looking for a restorable '67 Shelby. He found his "Fair Shelby" through a likely source-Bill Collins of Bill Collins Collector Fords in Pennsylvania. Bill has been buying and selling Shelbys, Cobras, and Mustangs since the 1970s, but he is also a collector and an enthusiast. Bill said, "I have friends who spot cars for me in Europe."
One of those friends, John Burgess, called Bill from England with news that he'd found a restored Lime Green '67 GT500. At first, he didn't mention that the owner also had an unrestored Nightmist Blue '67 GT500. Bill told us, "John offhandedly commented that the guy wanted to sell either the Lime one or the Blue one, but not both. I said, 'What blue one?'" Bill preferred the unrestored Shelby with its four-speed and lower price.
Both GT500s had been show cars at the Seville fair in the spring of 1967. The blue car was also displayed at the Barcelona fair later that summer. At the end of its show duty, the car was sent to the Barcelona Ford dealer, Auto Layetana, S.A, where it was sold to Jorge Sanjuan Pid~nol of Madrid. Two or three years later, he sold the Shelby to Fernando Jarado.
During Fernando's ownership in the early 1980s, the 428 spun a bearing. Bill explained that the dual-quad carburetion tends to pump unburned fuel past the pistons and into the oil to wash out the crankshaft bearings. "I've had many '67 500s with low oil pressure. Usually, the bearings are wiped out."
Bill figures Fernando encountered this same problem at 54,947 miles. As a result, the engine wound up disassembled and the parts scattered into the trunk and interior. The car sat in a barn for most of the next 20 years until Eduardo Torre fulfilled a dream by purchasing this treasure find in 1999.
Eduardo contacted the Shelby American Automobile Club and confirmed the car's heritage through the '67 Registrar. He spent several years hunting parts in the U.S. Apparently, the cost and logistics to restore an American supercar in Spain overwhelmed him. Eduardo sold the GT500 to a collector in England who, ironically, also owned the companion Lime Green '67 GT500 that was sent by Shelby to Seville.
With help from liaison John Burgess, the English collector sold the car to Bill Collins in December 2002. Bill arranged shipment by boat to the U.S. After EPA inspection, the fastback cleared the Port of Baltimore.
Ted Kitten was a logical buyer. The word "fair" is part of his hometown's name-Fairway, Kansas-and he says the Spanish heritage sparked his interest. "Fairway is next to Kansas City, which has an outdoor shopping district modeled after Seville in Spain."
Ted bought the car from Bill Collins in the summer of 2003. In 2005, he sent the Shelby to Whiting Restoration.
Bill said, "From what we could tell, it was pretty much a production GT500 that Shelby plucked out of inventory. The only distinguishing feature that survives is the Auto Leyetana decal from the Barcelona Ford dealer."
Bill points out, "Here was a car styled to evoke the imagery of the performance European road cars of the era." Therefore, shipping four '67 Shelbys to Europe for display made a lot of sense. The '67 Feria De Sevilla included an international pavilion for the first time for displaying manufactured goods from around the world, including cars. That probably prompted Shelby American to get involved. Shelby had a Spanish distributor and sold cars there through 1970.
Ted's No. 1191 is one of the early '67s with the desirable in-board driving lights. The Nightmist Blue fastback features the optional Mag Star 15x7-inch Kelsey-Hayes wheels with the gold Shelby Cobra center caps. The original pair of four-barrel Holleys makes the 428 Police Interceptor big-block look hot under the long Cobra air cleaner lid.
These features add up to a hot GT500. But the real story is the car's heritage and the Shane Whiting restoration to its original "fair" condition.