Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
January 9, 2018

When you have both the knowledge and financial means to own any car you want, what would you choose to drive? Now consider that you are a true car guy or girl but without any specific brand loyalty—meaning you can get equally excited about an AMC Eagle or a Ferrari Dino. Would you still have a Mustang in the garage?

If you answered yes, then McKeel Hagerty is your kind of guy. The owner of Hagerty Insurance based in Traverse City, Michigan, McKeel can have any car he wants—so he has a bunch of them (as well as a lot of boats), but one of his “keepers” is a Lime Gold Shelby G.T. 500 Mustang.

The Shelby runs and drives beautifully, and is a delight to cruise on a nice northern Michigan morning.

The first Shelby Mustangs—the 1965-1966 G.T. 350s—all started life as K-code cars with 289 engines and handling-oriented suspension bits, but that changed when Carroll upped the game for 1967 by introducing the G.T. 500 with Ford’s new 428ci FE big-block. While the earlier G.T 350s were mostly designed for SCCA-type road racing, the G.T. 500’s heavy, cast-iron 428 and slightly bulkier body for 1967 made the G.T. 500 more of a street brawler than a track master.

McKeel said, “I wasn’t really looking very hard for a Shelby, but I had met Carroll Shelby a few times for business and got to know him fairly well, and had thought about getting a G.T. 350 or maybe a Cobra. Then a sort of old family acquaintance, who had been a collector but was never really into it, had this 1967 G.T. 500 and told me he was thinking of selling it.”

The dual-quad 428 Police Interceptor engine used in early 1967 G.T. 500s is not a Cobra Jet, but still potent nonetheless with 335 hp.

Intrigued, McKeel said, “I did the proverbial cool, anxious drive out to the pole barn and unlocked the padlock on the door, and sure enough there it was, an uncovered Lime Gold G.T. 500.” On the spot, he got on his phone and went through the process of joining the Shelby Registry to authenticate the car, and sure enough it was the real deal. So he made the deal right then and took the car home, saying, “It was running but wasn’t very drivable at the time. Plus the original wheels were gone, there was evidence that the original steering wheel was also gone, and I’m pretty sure it was repainted sometime in the 1980s.”

The dual-quad 428 in this car is backed by an automatic, which roughly 30 percent of ’67 G.T. 500s had. McKeel commented, “Would I rather have a four-speed in a Shelby? Probably, but the automatic is fun too.” He said he talked to Carroll several times over the years about the G.T. 500 program and learned that Carroll wasn’t a huge fan of the car, mostly because that heavy 428 and bigger car were antithetical to his normal car-building mores—meaning stuff as much power into as light a package as possible and then go like hell. When they were just dating, McKeel’s now-wife did some public relations work for Shelby and at one point mentioned that her boyfriend had just obtained a G.T. 500, to which Carroll responded, “tell him to send me the glovebox door.” Whereas most people would pay the $100 or so donation to his charity fund in exchange for Carroll’s name on the door, McKeel got a personalized one that says, “To McKeel, Carroll Shelby.” McKeel barely unwrapped the door before having it clearcoated to protect the signature from the elements, and it’s on the car now.

Early 1967 G.T. 500s had the driving lights (high beams) right in the middle of the grille opening, but for Federal specifications and cooling issues they were relocated outboard, nearer the headlights.

The Shelby didn’t need a lot of work, just some spit and polish, and McKeel is iffy on whether or not he wants to restore it, explaining that it runs just fine (if not hot on a hot summer day), the paint is fine though not “show-quality,” and he enjoys driving it as is on nice spring and autumn days. (We shot these photos in August 2017 on a beautiful day, and the car never ran north of 180 degrees.)

Whenever we meet a collector with an enviable amount of cars, many of them have a habit of frequently buying and selling the cars, so after we saw McKeel Hagerty’s impressive and diverse collection of cars and boats in his Michigan office dream garage, we had to ask him about the Shelby. His response? “I’ll never sell it. It was personalized to me from Carroll Shelby himself, so it will be a permanent part of my collection.” Of all his many cars, that makes the G.T. 500 one of three. He said, “My first love is a 1967 Porsche 911S that I got at 15 and restored with my dad. I’ll never sell that or this Shelby. My other keeper is a 1960 Aston Martin DB4, a beautiful car but an awful project to restore.” The Aston apparently was such a nightmare to restore, and took so long, that the ordeal of suffering through it makes it all his, and one to never part with. So, this Lime Gold G.T. 500 Mustang is in good and fairly exotic company, but he says “none I’m more proud of than the Shelby.”

The proof is in the tag.

Plus it’s just too much fun to drive. McKeel said, “My old saying is that ‘there’s not a better way to turn gasoline into sounds than a Shelby.’ It makes great sounds and does all the right things that it’s supposed to do.”

About Hagerty Insurance
You’ve probably heard of Hagerty Insurance, and possibly even have one of their policies on your classic Mustang now, but in case you haven’t they insure over 1 million vehicles, 12,000 boats (the company originally started insuring wooden boats), and 30,000 motorcycles worth a total of $30 billion. They claim to be bigger than all other specialty insurance providers combined and attend over 2,000 classic car events each year, including every major auction in the U.S. and abroad. See more at Hagerty.com.

McKeel doesn’t think the steering wheel is original to the car since they were commonly stolen or sold for big bucks.
The Shelby came with a “rollbar,” shoulder harnesses, and a fold-down rear seat. The interior on this car is all original.
Unique to McKeel’s car is that Carroll Shelby personalized it to him.
The wheels aren’t original to the car, but they’re OE-spec Kelsey Hayes Mag Stars, correct to a 1967 G.T. 500.
McKeel Hagerty loves driving his Shelby on nice spring and fall days.