Car of the Week: 1967 Shelby Mustang G.T. 500

Story and photos by Angelo Van Bogart

Some of us ask for ponies and Hot Wheels cars as kids. As a child, Jane Marshall of Belgium, Wis., asked her father for a 1967 Shelby. She was denied.

“I remember being 8 years old and seeing them on TV and saying to my dad, ‘You need to buy one,’ and he said, ‘When you grow up you can buy one,’ and now we have three,” Marshall said.

Marshall’s first Shelby was the fastback 1967 G.T. 500 pictured here, purchased in 1998, sight unseen. Her friends thought she was crazy for not looking at the car before bidding, but shortly after winning the car in an online auction, it became clear to Marshall she had bought one of the good ones.

“I was called every name in the book by my friends for not looking at it first, but after the auction ended, the dealer offered me $10,000 not to take it,” she said.

The dealer was Stephen Becker, owner of Planet Cobra in Sugar Hill, Ga. Before bidding, Marshall said she researched Becker and knew he was a reputable person.

“Becker said he had so many people call him who didn’t have the opportunity to bid. He said, ‘If you don’t want the car, I’ll send you a check.’ We had it shipped sight unseen and it was everything I thought and then some. It was my dream come true.”

The Shelby has a dreamy history that starts with the first owner, a woman in Indiana.

“I have papers from where she bought it,” Marshall said. “I have quite an extensive paper trail of everything she did to it. It’s highly documented. From what I understand, she bought it off a lot. She must have been pretty cool.”

Among the documentation is proof the Shelby received an aftermarket Hurst shifter before the first owner drove it off the lot of Jerry Alderman Ford Sales in Indianapolis.

“Ford had a shifter on it that you pulled up and then down for reverse, and most people are used to that H-pattern, and people changed them [to Hurst shifters], so I left it that way,” Marshall said.

Hatching the 1967 Shelby

Compared to a standard Mustang, there weren’t a ton of options available on a first-year Shelby G.T. 500. True, the Mustang-based Shelby had been offered since 1965 as a G.T. 350 performance car by Carroll Shelby, who had already made a name for himself as a car producer beginning with the Shelby Cobra of 1962. By 1967, the Mustang-based Shelby was evolving into a different beast from the original 1965 model. It was based on the redesigned 1967 Mustang fastback body, which finally provided more room in the engine compartment between the shock towers for more cubes of Blue Oval power.

As a result, the 1967 Mustangs were larger cars, so while Shelby was at it, work was undertaken to better visually differentiate the Shelby from the Mustang. Since a 1967 G.T. 500 was base-priced at $4,195 while a base-priced Mustang fastback started at $2,698, the styling changes would help Shelby justify its car’s higher price.

To keep development costs down while funds were devoted to appearance, Shelby American relied more on available Ford Motor Co. parts to improve handling and increase performance than install upgraded components at a higher cost as it had in the past. The result was a more luxurious road car and less of a road course warrior, a fact Shelby readily acknowledged in its advertising that touted “Road Cars.”

“Do you agree with Carroll Shelby that good driving is a fine art? Then these all new 1967 Shelby GT cars are custom-crafted for you. By incorporating his competition-proved design and engineering features in the Mustang, Carroll Shelby has created two unique road performers that carry the lowest price tags of any true GT cars.”

After detailing the engine and transmission choices, the ad went on to provide a list of the Shelby’s features before laying on the sales pitch.

“Naturally, you’ll find true GT features. Unique Shelby styling. Luxury interior with bucket seats, complete instrumentation, wood-rim steering wheel, folding rear seat (an extra-cost option).”

That “unique Shelby styling” is largely credited to Ford designer Charlie McHose, who went to work styling the 1967 Shelby at the company’s headquarters in a Los Angeles International Airport hanger in mid 1966. His goal was to give Carroll Shelby’s pony cars more of their own image. Eventually, McHose was joined by his former instructor, Joe Farrer, and Carl Nasson, a Ford clay design mold expert. All three worked to give the 1967 Shelbys their sinister look. McHose sketched the designs; Farrer carved the parts to match a stripped Mustang fastback shell; and Nasson made the molds.

In the end, the 1967 Shelby was made to look leaner and meaner than a Mustang with a longer nose that incorporated four smaller 1960 Ford headlamps, a functional dual-snorkel flat hood scoop and a different lower front valance with a larger opening. There were also side scoops in place on the fastback’s sail panels and on the rear side body coves, a full-width rear ducktail spoiler and new Mercury Cougar tail lamps that required a different tail panel to be used on the Mustang body. These body components were fashioned out of fiberglass and fitted to Mustang bodies to create the Shelby’s unique look. However, the Mustang body shell supplied to Shelby American by Ford for design and construction of these components had been used for seat belt crash testing and was subtly tweaked, resulting in ill-fitting fiberglass parts for which the 1967 Shelby models remain notorious.

Of the many body components that gave the Shelby more attitude than a standard Mustang, one of the most subtle but important are the side scoops. The features serve two purposes: they tied Ford-based performance cars to Ford’s Le Mans program via the Mark II endurance racer, and they directed air through the body. The scoops behind the side window pulled air out of the cabin while the lower scoops directed air to rear wheels where they cooled the brakes, at least on early-build 1967 Shelbys (the functionality of the scoop ended when a flexible hose connecting the scoop to the inner rear fender was eliminated by Shelby American).

To maintain the Shelby mystique, all Mustang emblems were removed and replaced with a new badges featuring a coiled cobra snake designed by McHose. The Shelby snake emblems continued in the interior, which was made more plush than the Shelbys before it. Carroll Shelby insisted on installing a three-spoke steering wheel with a real wood rim and a Shelby horn button, a feature owner Marshall calls the car’s coolest touch. Brushed aluminum accents on the instrument panel and door panels added to the plush interior, but it was the padded roll bar with inertia-reel shoulder harnesses borrowed from jet fighter ejection seats that were truly innovative (both the inertia-reel harnesses and padded rollbar are believed to be firsts in a production automobile). While Shelbys used most of the interior components of Mustang GTs, Cobra emblems were fitted to such places as the seatbelt release buttons. Shelbys also employed additional stainless and aluminum trim accents and a 1966 Mustang Rally-Pac gauge housing hung upside the instrument panel for Stewart-Warner oil pressure and ammeter gauges. Those gauges now monitored the rumblings of one of two available engines with different displacements, a first in the Mustang-based Shelby.

Shelby models could again be equipped with the hi-po 289-cid V-8 with solid lifters, an aluminum Cobra intake, aluminum valve covers and a chrome air cleaner. This engine was said to be good for 306 hp, as it had been in 1966, although the 289 now came with money-saving cast-iron exhaust manifolds rather than better-flowing headers Shelby fit to 1966-and-earlier 289s. The 289 could be equipped with the standard 715-cfm Holley carburetor, or for $700 extra, a Paxton supercharger was available. When equipped with either type of 289, the cars continued the G.T. 350 designation.

Shelby ran with the additional space now found in the new Mustang body’s larger engine compartment and also fit the 428 Police Interceptor V-8 with hydraulic lifters under the hood. The engine was capped by dual four-venturi carburetors of 600 cfm. A full-race 427 side-oiler was also available, but at $2,000 extra was only fit in three 1967 Shelbys that year. Cars equipped with either the 427 or 428 were given a new designation — G.T. 500 — which had nothing to do with the numbers behind either powerplant. However, it sounded big, and there were some big numbers behind the G.T. 500. The 428-cid-powered cars had 355 hp and 420 lbs.-ft. of torque. For 1968, the 428 would continue with a single four-venturi carburetor rated at 335 hp. The 355-hp powerplant is one reason Marshall went snake hunting for a 1967 Shelby G.T. 500.

“I was saddling between getting a 1968 [G.T. 350] convertible, but I went for the big-block [1967],” Marshall said. “I’m a horsepower girl.

“I wanted a ’67 because they have the dual four barrels. It was also the last year Shelby built them at the LAX airport, and I wanted the white with blue stripes or blue with white stripes. I was looking for either one. But it had to be a four-speed.”

Indeed, production of Shelby G.T. 350 and G.T. 500 models for 1968 was moved to Ionia, Mich., where the A.O. Smith Corp. would build the fiberglass Shelby body components, install and paint them and add the other Shelby ornamentation. As a 1967 model, Marshall’s car has components built for and installed by Shelby American in California. Fortunately, all of the Shelby pieces were present and in fine condition on Marshall’s Shelby.

Rejuvenating a loved snake

“I had it for 10 years and battled whether we should restore it,” Marshall said. “We used to show it a lot at local shows before it was restored and people would say, ‘You have the best car at the show,’ but we didn’t win anything until it was restored. Now that it is restored, we have been winning trophies. [2012] was the first year we started showing it and she’s won first place at every show. At one show alone she took home four trophies for four different classes.”

Marshall begged Troy Kuyoth of Stratford, Wis., to restore her G.T. 500, as he has an impressive line of Shelby restorations to his credit, including the restoration of Carroll’s personal car. He agreed, and according to Marshall, the car was a relatively easy restoration, and one in which most of the original parts could be restored rather than replaced.

“We tried to keep everything original,” Marshall said. “I would say 90 percent of it is the same car. We had both original bumpers and even the original door handles rechromed. Just the minor stuff — like weatherstripping — we got new. Otherwise, the main parts, even the bolts that hold the fenders on, we redid those original bolts.”

The interior received new carpet, but otherwise remains largely original. “It had a little tear in the stitching of the seat, right in the seam, and I had that re-sewn, so it still has the original interior and headliner,” said John Carl, Marshall’s significant other. The main components of the car also appeared to be in good shape. Although it looked as though the G.T. 500’s nose had been slightly smacked in the past, a 1975 repaint hid very little on the Indiana car. Metal replacement was limited to a select few places common to Mustang bodies.

“This car was in such good shape — we were so fortunate,” Marshall said. “We took it all the way down to the bare metal and there were some rust spots, a couple spots in the floor, in the cowl, but really, for the age of the car and in Indiana, it was actually in really good shape because [the original owner] took care of it like I do.”

There were just a few pieces that had to be found during the restoration, and some were surprisingly difficult to obtain.

“We had trouble finding the spring for the trunk — the rod that makes the trunk swing up and down,” Marshall said. “It’s just out of a ’67 Mustang, but boy, that was a tough part to find.”

After a decade of driving the G.T. 500, the Shelby is now a trailer queen, and that’s OK with Marshall, at least while premium fuel prices remain high.

“Instead of being a fun car, it’s a beauty car. We had fun with it for 10 years. It’s an awesome car; it can pass everything but a gas station.”

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One thought on “Car of the Week: 1967 Shelby Mustang G.T. 500

  1. edrogers

    beautiful car, i would be a little intimidated by the power though unless i was on a test track, don’t think i would want to drive on a city street. this is a ticket waiting to happen….

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