The Shelby Mustang is a high performance variant of the Ford Mustang which was built by the Shelby American automoblie company from 1965 through 1970. Following the introduction of the fifth generation Ford Mustang, the Shelby nameplate was revived in 2007 for new high performance versions of the Mustang.
1965–1970 GT350 and GT500
The 1965–1966 cars were the smallest and lightest of the GT 350 models. These cars are often called "Cobras", which was the Ford-powered AC-based two-seat sports car also produced by Shelby American during the same period. Both models use the Cobra emblem, similar paint scheme, and the optional "Cobra" valve covers on many GT350s that were part of a marketing tie-in by Shelby, as well as one of his iconic symbols. All 1965–66 cars featured the K-Code 271 hp (202 kW; 275 PS) 289 cu in (4.7 L), modified to produce 306 hp (228 kW; 310 PS). Marketing literature referred to this engine as the ""Cobra hi-riser" due to its high-riser intake manifold. Beginning as a stock Mustang with a 4-speed manual, the cars were shipped to Shelby American, where they received the high-riser manifolds, had their stock Ford Falcon live rear axles replaced with heavy-duty Ford Galaxie rear axles, and were given larger, metallic-lined rear drum brakes and Kelsey-Hayes front disc brakes.
The 1965 G.T. 350 was not built for comfort or ease of driving. Less than 30 "G.T. 350R" race-spec cars that were built specifically for competition use under SCCA rules. The 1966 G.T. 350 had featured more comfort of casual drivers that included rear seats, optional colors, and an optional automatic transmission. This trend for additional features continued in following years, with the cars becoming progressively larger, heavier, and more comfortable, while losing much of their competitiveness in the process. The 1969 G.T. 350s and 500s were largely styling modifications to a stock Mustang. By 1969 Caroll Shelby was no longer involved in the Shelby GT program, and the design was done in-house by Ford.
The 1965 and 1966 G.T. 350s were delivered from Ford's San Jose assembly plant in body in white form for modification by Carroll Shelby's operation, originally in Venice Beach and later at Los Angeles International Airport. San Jose cars carried an "R" in the Ford VIN denoting that facility.The only year that Shelby Mustangs from the 1960s came from another plant was 1968, where they came from New Jersey, "T" in the VIN,and were modified by A.O. Smith.
All 1965 G.T. 350s were painted Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue rocker stripes. Very few GT350s were delivered to the dealer with the optional "Le Mans" (or "LeMans") top stripes, which run the length of the entire car. Approximately 28% of the 562 1965 cars built had Le Mans stripes. Dealers often added the stripes, probably at the customer's request. Today, it is difficult to find a GT 350 not so equipped.
Many 1965 cars had the battery relocated to the trunk, which was changed mid-year from complaints of fumes, and featured over-rider traction bars, relocated A-arms, as well as other modifications. Over-rider traction bars are named so because to their design being on top of the leaf spring as opposed to underneath them. There was only one transmission available, a 4-speed Borg-Warner T-10 manual. The exhaust system in the 1965 G.T. 350 was a side-exit dual exhaust with glass-pack mufflers. For this one year, the G.T. 350 also featured special 130 mph-rated Goodyear "Blue Dot" tires, named for the prominent blue dot on each sidewall. The 1965 G.T. 350 had a full size spare tire mounted in place of rear seats, making it a 2-seat-only vehicle (to be allowed to race under SCCA regulations as "sports car"), and rode on either silver-painted steel wheels or special cast-magnesium center "Cragar Shelby" 15" rims with chromed center caps marked with a stylized "CS". Total 1965 model year production was 562 units.
For 1966, the GT 350 lost its Mustang tag and was marketed simply as the Shelby GT 350. The new model year also saw the introduction of non-white colors, including blue, red, green, and black. Other changes included special rear quarter-panel windows replacing the factory extractor vents, functional brake scoops on each side, and optional SelectShift 3-speed automatic, as well as an optional Paxton supercharger. The battery was no longer relocated to the trunk for 1966, and the over-rider traction bars were discontinued. The normal factory fold-down rear seat was optional. While early 1965 cars had black engine blocks, 1966 and later cars had their engines painted the regular factory Ford dark blue. The 1966 models came with a dual-exhaust exiting in the rear.
The first 252 GT 350s for 1966 began as 1965 Mustang K-Code Fastbacks. These cars were specifically ordered by Shelby American for conversion into 1966 GT 350s. Upon delivery to Shelby-American, the cars were randomly picked for conversion. The Shelby VINs do not correspond in numerical order with Ford VINs. The Ford VINs were shipped in 'blocks,' but many differ significantly because the order they were taken for conversions.
Total production for 1966 was 1,373 fastbacks, including two prototypes and four drag cars, and the 252 early production models with Ford Mustang 1965 bodies. The Hertz rental company ordered 1,003 fastbacks, including two prototypes. Four convertibles were also produced, for a total of 2,378 units for 1966. A small number of the 1966 models were fitted from the factory with Paxton superchargers, but not the No-Spin limited slip differential; with an option price of US$670, the engine was rated at 440 hp (330 kW).
1966 Hertz models
Shelby struck a deal with the Hertz Corporation to produce a special line of G.T. 350s for rent that, after their rental-car lives were finished, were returned to Ford, refurbished, and sold to the public as "GT 350-H" models. Most Hertz cars featured gold LeMans stripes and rocker panel stripes, although a few were white with blue stripes. The first 85 Hertz cars were available with four-speed manual transmissions and Hertz advertised them as "Rent-a-Racer" cars. During rental, these cars were sometimes used as production class cars at SCCA events, and were rumored to have been returned to Hertz with evidence of roll bars being welded in. Hertz ordered the last 800 models with black paint, gold stripes and black interior, as well as automatic transmissions.
When the Hertz cars were returned to Ford to be prepared for sale to the public, the high-performance parts were often "lost" (presumably at the manufacturer) before final sale.
For 1967, the GT 350 carried over the K-Code high performance 289 with a 'COBRA' aluminum hi-rise. The GT 500 was added to the lineup, equipped with the 428 Police Interceptor. These later cars carried over few of the performance modifications of the 1965–66 GT350s, although they did feature more cosmetic changes.
In September 1967, production was moved to the A.O. Smith Company of Ionia, Michigan, under Ford control. Shelby American had substantially less involvement after this time.
For 1968, the Cobra name was applied to both models, and they were now marketed as the Shelby Cobra GT 350 and the Shelby Cobra GT 500. In February 1968, the Cobra GT 500-KR "King of the Road" debuted; under the hood was a 428 cubic-inch Cobra Jet V8 which was rated at 335 horsepower (250 kW).
The GTs lost their Cobra tag for 1969 and once again were marketed simply as Shelby GT 350 and Shelby GT 500. The GT 350 and GT 500 for the 1969 model year received an extensive face lift, the body alone increasing in length by 4 inches (100 mm). Ford was heavily involved with design and style decisions, with Shelby having very little input. The GT 350 was now equipped with a 351 cubic-inch V8. Carroll Shelby terminated his agreement with Ford in the summer of 1969.
No production of 1970 Shelby GT 350 and 500 models was actually undertaken, however unsold 1969 models were given 1970 vehicle identification numbers under FBI supervison. The 1970 models had two changes, a front chin spoiler and two black hood stripes. A total of 789 were re- VIN'd.
Even though production of Shelby GTs had ceased, a small numbers of 1971 and 1972 models were produced on the request of Belgian Shelby dealer Claude Dubois. Shelby agreed to build 14 1971/1972 Mustang based models which were marketed as the "Shelby Europa" and sold only in Europe.
'Eleanor' is the trademarked name given to a 1971 Ford Mustang (redressed as a 1973) for its role in the 1974 film Gone in 60 Seconds. "Eleanor" is the only Ford Mustang in history to receive star title credit in a movie. Whilst the Mustang from the original was an 1973 mustang Fastback, the One-of-kind custom 1967 mustang Fastback from the remake was listed by Hot Rod magazine as one of 100 most influential vehicles in the history of hot rodding for its February 2009 issue, citing how it brought non-car people's attention into cars as well as the numerous replicas built, this example was ranked 19th.
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