The Shelby GT500 Mustang
In the mid to late 1960s, famed race car driver and automotive designer Carroll Shelby created high-performance versions of the legendary Ford Mustang. These cars would be known as the Shelby GT350 and the GT500. The Shelby GT500 Mustang, introduced in 1967, offered the signature muscle car styling of the Mustang with Shelby modifications for increased performance.
The 1967 Shelby GT500 featured an unusually large and quite powerful engine for a compact muscle car; a 428-cid monster rated at 355 horsepower due in part to various alterations made by Shelby. A few models received the potent Ford 427 V-8. It came with both four-speed manual and three-speed automatic transmission options. The interior design on the GT500 was largely shared with the Ford Mustang GT, and power steering and air conditioning were offered as upgrade options.
In mid-1968, the Shelby GT500 received a new suffix, now being called the Shelby GT500KR (the KR standing for “King of the Road”). A 428-cid engine now replaced the standard 427 of 1967. The new engine was rated at 335 bhp, but this was considered by many to be a conservative rating. In 1968 a convertible option was also added for the GT500.
By 1969 and 1970, Shelby had ceased working in conjunction with Ford. The body style on the new models was changed dramatically, including a four inch increase in length. Production models actually ceased after 1969, as 1970 GT500s were rebranded leftovers from the previous year. 1969 marked the end of an era for the GT500, with the ’67 and ’68 models being the most authentic of the original GT500s produced.
In 2007 Ford and Shelby collaborated on a new GT500, and in 2008 a GT500KR was also released for the 40th anniversary of the KR version of the 500. New Shelby GT500 Mustangs are still in production today, produced in limited quantities each year.