Bob McClurg
April 30, 2015
Photos By: Shelby American Automobile Club

Remember the "Super Fine 289" engine buildup story that ran in our Sept. '14 issue? That Paxton-supercharged Ford small-block, which produced nearly 316 rwhp and 388 lb-ft of torque on JBA Racing's dyno, was built for this 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby G.T. 350 owned by retired Honolulu nightclub owner Fred Piluso. Let's take a closer look at the car the engine went into.

According to the Shelby American Automobile Club's Shelby Registry 1965-1966-1967, this car, number 01378, was completed on April 14, 1967, and shipped to Welty Ford in Wenatchee, Washington. The car was originally purchased in late 1968 by hometown boy Gerald Milliken. Over the years the car changed hands several times, staying in the Pacific Northwest until Fred bought it in September 2013.

The car had a nice, solid body, but the drivetrain was either incorrect or worn out
In our Sept. '14 issue we followed the buildup of this car's Paxton-fed 289 at Paradise Wheels. Here is the team that built the engine and finished the car (left to right): Mark Clyde, Rob Kazen, Paradise Wheels CEO Craig Conley, and Jesse Gonzales.

Somewhere along the line, the original Hi Po 289 was reported to have been removed from the car and a lower compression, two-bolt main, two-barrel 289 was substituted in its place. As you would imagine, that didn't set well with its new owner, so the following spring, Fred shipped the car to Craig Conley at Paradise Wheels in San Marcos, California, where it received the aforementioned (and correctly date coded) Paxton supercharged 289 Hi Po V-8. The crew at Paradise Wheels also rebuilt the Ford Top Loader four-speed transmission using a McLeod clutch and aluminum flywheel, along with Hurst linkage bolted to the factory Ford T-handle.

"The car had a nice, solid body, but its drivetrain was either incorrect or worn out," said Craig. "For example, the rearend had a bunch of brackets welded to it that evidentially were for traction bars of some type, most likely for drag racing. We plasma-cut those off, bead-blasted the housing, and detailed the rearend back to its original condition. Then we installed a 3.50:1 Traction Lok carrier along with new axle bearings and seals. We also rebuilt the brakes and installed a new set of rear leaf springs and the correct Koni shocks."

Craig and employees Rob Kazen, Mark Clyde, and Jesse Gonzales likewise rebuilt the entire front suspension with new ball joints, bushings, anti-sway bar endlinks, and more. They also rebuilt the front brakes, installed a pair of Konis, and rebuilt the power steering ram.

"Along the way we also installed a new fuel line, as the OE line was 5/16 inches in diameter and pinched," says Craig. "It was replaced with a larger 3/8-inch-diameter line so that the Paxton supercharger would get the necessary fuel it required."

Fred is a hardcore Pittsburgh Steelers fan

When the dyno test was completed, the Shelby was shipped back to Fred's summer home in Concord, Ohio, where Paul Wolonsky from The Paint Shop in Akron, Ohio, resprayed the white stripes gold. Of course, a black Shelby Mustang with gold stripes looks like one of the cars ordered for rental car fleets by Hertz back in the day, but the reality is that Fred is a hardcore Pittsburgh Steelers fan; all his cars, a collection that includes a 2006 Ford GT (which he keeps in Florida) and a 2007 Shelby GT500 convertible (which he keeps in Hawaii), are painted black and gold.

The gold stripes on this G.T. 350 make it look like one of the Hertz Shelbys, but it's not. Owner Fred Piluso is a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan. All his cars wear the black-and-gold livery.

At this juncture, it should be noted that although the side stripes on the car say "G.T. 350 S," Fred makes no bones about the fact that the car is not one of the 35 genuine 1967 Shelby G.T. 350 S cars listed in the latest SAAC Shelby Registry.

At a Glance
1967 Shelby G.T. 350
Owned by: Fred Piluso, Honolulu, HI
Restored by: Paradise Wheels, San Marcos, CA; The Paint Shop, Akron, OH
Engine: 289ci/315.9 (rear-wheel) hp supercharged V-8
Transmission: Top Loader 4-speed manual
Rearend: 3.50 gears with Traction Lok
Interior: Black vinyl bucket seat
Wheels: 15-inch Shelby Magnum
Tires: P255/60R15 BFGoodrich Radial T/A
Special parts: Paxton supercharger kit

Paxton's Joe Granatelli contacted Carroll Shelby early in 1965
Shelby G.T. 350 6S051 was the car Shelby used to prototype the installation of the Paxton supercharger kit. Wearing Ivy Green paint and white G.T. 350 S rocker stripes, it was also the first G.T. 350 painted a color other than white.

The Granatelli-Shelby Connection

The fourth edition of SAAC's Shelby Registry has a whole chapter devoted to the few 1966 and '67 Shelby Mustangs fitted with Paxton superchargers from the factory. According to SAAC's historians, Paxton had been watching the development of the Mustang and had a centrifugal supercharger kit ready for the 289 almost as soon as the car hit dealer showrooms. Paxton's Joe Granatelli contacted Carroll Shelby early in 1965 and pitched him on the idea of providing supercharger kits for the new G.T. 350. Shelby was skeptical of the idea but lent Granatelli a car to put the kit on.

When Granatelli returned to Shelby's facility near the Los Angeles International Airport with the kit installed, Shelby pitted the blown Mustang against one of his 289 Cobras. Granatelli and the Mustang spanked the Cobra, convincing Shelby that the blower was a good idea. Shelby promptly ordered 500 of the kits.

Nowhere near that many superchargers were installed during the two years Shelby offered the kit as a factory option. The Registry lists 11 1966 models and 35 1967s that were outfitted with the blowers. The kit was also available as an aftermarket add-on through Shelby's parts catalog, but it's not known exactly how many were sold and put on G.T. 350s.

A likely reason so few kits were sold was the $549 price—a hefty add-on to a car already expensive at more than $4,000. Plus, in 1967 buyers could step up to the big-block-powered G.T. 500 for $4,395, just $200 more than the $4,195 G.T. 350.

The Granatelli/Shelby drag race notwithstanding, there's some controversy over just how much power the blower brought to the party. Paxton and Shelby advertised a 46 percent power increase, which would bring the output of the 306hp Hi Po 289 to nearly 450 hp. But that figure is based on calculations of the air pressure boost provided by the supercharger—6.3 psi, or about half an atmosphere—which in theory would increase the engine's output by a corresponding 46 percent. But as the SAAC historians point out, the supercharged Shelbys received no corresponding change in the engine's exhaust system, which would be necessary for the motor to realize the full benefit of all that incoming air. Recent dyno figures, they reported, showed that the engines gained 20-25 percent horsepower with the addition of the supercharger. —Drew Hardin


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