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The Playmate’s 1968 Ford Mustang G.T. 500KR Convertible
Now in a collector’s arms and returned to its original color, this ’68 G.T. 500KR convertible is as stunning as its past owner
Since 1964, Playboy magazine has awarded a car to the Playmate of The Year (PMOY), normally painted pink, as you would expect—our minds drift to PMOY Donna Michelle and her ’641⁄2 Mustang convertible and Connie Kreski and the pink ’69 Shelby Mustang G.T. 500 that Hugh Hefner awarded her in 1969. At first, the PMOY cars were good ones, including those two Mustangs, as well as a ’65 Sunbeam Tiger, a ’66 Dodge Charger, a ’67 Barracuda, a ’68 AMX, a ’70 Mercury Capri, a ’72 Pantera, a ’75 Porsche 911, and even a high-end ski boat in 1971. But by 1977, when Patti McGuire was named PMOY, the automotive world was in a tailspin and her Playboy car was a ’77 Dodge Charger. Yeah, gross. To pour salt in the wound, the next year the giveaway car was a 240Z, followed by a succession of high-end Porsches.
In 1979, Patti married tennis superstar Jimmy Connors, and to save her from the indignity of having to drive that lumbering, ugly Dodge, in 1985 he bought her the Shelby G.T. 500KR convertible you see here. By that time, the car was nearly 20 years old and Shelbys were enjoying a surge in value in the collector car market. This particular car was special ordered in bright yellow, but Patti had it repainted Lapis Blue to match her Mercedes at the time—perhaps she wanted to be a bit more incognito than driving a screaming yellow Shelby convertible.
Eventually, the KR wound up on the market again, switching owners until we ran across the car at SAAC-39 in the summer of 2014, at Road America in Wisconsin. There, this car proved to be a real head-turner, even amidst Shelby’s finest vintage automobiles. It’s now owned by J.B. Tinney, a high-roller from Houston who is not one to take life too seriously, and had just gathered up a Gold award in SAAC’s Division 2 class with the KR, which was one of his goals when he bought the car a couple of years ago.
The first thing we talked about, of course, was the Playboy connection (hey, we’re guys), but then the conversation turned to the showy yellow, special-order paint, coded WT-6066. WT-6066 was a Grabber color Ford pulled off their fleet line—Ford offered six special paint colors on the Shelby, each color known by its special WT identification code number and the digits 6066 are for yellow.
“This is the first Ford I have ever owned. I think the Shelby has one of the greatest chances of appreciation,” J.B. says. He collects muscle cars including, among others, a ’69 COPO Camaro in number-one condition, as well as a Buick Gran Sport convertible. Each of his purchases must have investment potential and J.B. looks for rarity and widespread appeal, but said a deal-breaker for him can be the color. “It can’t be pea green,” he laughs.
When he purchased the Shelby in California a couple years ago, the KR was, in his words, “in pretty good condition,” but to make it perfect he gave it to Jason Billups, who restores concourse Mustangs at his shop, Billups Classic Cars in Colcord, Oklahoma.
“It was a pretty nice driver with no rust,” Billups says. The paint looked great, but there was no way the car would ever win Gold in SAAC the way it was. Billups found a leaking water pump and many incorrect parts—carburetor, engine fan, suspension, and much more. His job was to detail the KR, correcting the wrongs, but leaving the paint in place. Again, the paint is special order, which explains the lack of a paint code on the original door trim tag. Billups believes this very bright and showy yellow replaced Sunlit Gold, a color that was causing trouble for A.O. Smith, the company that built the Shelby Mustangs in Ionia, Michigan, for Ford.
“A.O. Smith was having a horrible time matching Sunlit Gold because they were spraying lacquer and the Ford cars were painted with enamel,” Billups says. Smith painted the fiberglass pieces (headlight buckets, decklids, quarter extensions, hoods) separate from the car. Eventually, Smith solved the paint matching problems and Ford’s six new special fleet colors came along later in the model year, in time for the arrival of Shelby’s new ’681⁄2 G.T. 500KR, introduced in the spring of 1968.
A showier Mustang there may not be—this KR pops, as J.B says. With its giant grille, bloated body, and cheesy vinyl top, the ’77 Charger hasn’t aged nearly as well as this KR and its famous former owner have.
A showier Mustang there may not be—this KR pops, as J.B says. With its giant grille, bloated body, and cheesy vinyl top, the ’77 Charger hasn’t aged nearly as well as this KR.