Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick belted out the lyrics, "Don't go chasing rabbits" in 1967's psychedelic rock song "White Rabbit." Also in 1967, Shelby American's Terlingua Racing Team, using a caricature of a rabbit as their logo, blew past the competition, taking the Trans Am championship for Ford.
However, enthusiasts had to wait over 40 years for the return of the Terlingua Mustang. Jeff Krueger, a Mustang enthusiast and part-time restorer, gets credit for this Terlingua variant, which he fittingly calls "White Rabbit."
In 2008, Shelby Automobiles had just introduced the new Terlingua. Jeff remembers talking to Gary Patterson at the Shelby booth during the Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"Basically, I told them that I loved the car," Jeff says. "But I wanted something different and special for my 40th birthday the following year. I asked if they could make it happen."
At the time, Jeff didn't know how special his build would become. He liked the track look of the Terlingua and started contemplating colors. Although white isn't exactly a popular sports car color these days, Jeff figured that the starkness might make a great canvas for the stripes, blackout hood, and various stickers on the front fenders. And, at that point, no one had ordered a white Terlingua with the Performance Package. He wanted to make sure his Terlingua was the first supercharged Terlingua in white.
Looking back on his interaction with Shelby, Jeff is amazed that they took so much interest in his special car, especially when they were in the midst of building Shelby GT convertibles and rolling out the new GT500KR.
Being a white car, Jeff started to call his build "White Rabbit." He listened to the classic song "White Rabbit" and Grace Slick seemed to be singing about his car.
"One pill makes you larger" makes sense. The Terlingua's supercharger is like the pill, making the V-6 feel much larger with the blower. The Paxton boosts the 4.0L from 210 horsepower to 375, hotter than normally-aspirated Mustang V-8s in '08 GTs.
To start the build process, Jeff bought his donor car from a "little old lady" outside of Ft. Worth. She bought her '06 Mustang V-6 new but had to sell because she couldn't get in and out of it anymore. The coupe was a five-speed stick with no extras except for power windows, radio, and A/C, perfect for Jeff's performance conversion.
Jeff loves to tell the story about how he built his Terlingua Shelby for less than $30,000. He paid $7,900 for the used '06 Mustang with 31,000 miles. At the time, Shelby's Terlingua conversion cost $19,995. In the build, Shelby replaces certain parts and pieces, such as the stock rear fascia for a GT500 rear fascia and the factory hood for a Shelby Deep Draw hood. As an enterprising man who owns his own carpet cleaning business and has done 14 vintage Mustang restorations to Thoroughbred standards, Jeff knows how to play the car-building game. He sold the stock aluminum hood (same as a V-8 car) and rear fascia for $3,000 to lower his net output to $24,895, not counting miscellaneous expenses. Gutting the stock vinyl interior to replace with black leather and other extras boosted the cost to over $30,000. However, Jeff proved that he could get into a "full-fledged race car Shelby" for less than the cost of a new GT.
Shelby Automobiles helped Jeff achieve his special 40th birthday build in more ways than one. He requested a special serial number to denote his 40th birthday. Shelby obliged with "06TRT0401," decoded as follows: 06 for 2006, TRT for Terlingua Racing Team, and 0401 as the consecutive unit number to denote 40th with a "1" for the first White Rabbit.
As the build progressed, Shelby's VP of Operations, Gary Patterson, picked up on the theme by calling the car Alice. If you remember the song, you'll recall the lyrics, "Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall."
Krueger felt ten feet tall with his White Rabbit at the 2011 Shelby Bash in Las Vegas. He started in the beginner's class, then moved up to intermediate where he easily blew past Mustang GTs on the road course.
To distinguish the White Rabbit, Jeff affixed specially-made, larger badges of Bill Neale's rabbit to the center hub of the steering wheel and the fuse box cover. Neale, who penned the original Terlingua logo, and Carroll Shelby signed the glovebox. Carroll added, "1st White Rabbit 401."
Jeff's Terlingua has become more than the first white Terlingua. The supercharged '06 V-6 has become the first "White Rabbit." The question is: Will there be more?