Jerry Heasley
March 8, 2010

Horse Sense:
Furthering the unique nature of the Patriot Edition, the Ford design team signed the car to verify its authenticity.

Any of us would go wild to win a brand-new Shelby GT500. But, what if the sweepstakes tossed in a fully restored '67 GT500, worth 150 to 200 grand? OK, now what if they sweetened the pot even more? What if they enlisted the services of Ford Motor Company's design team to modify a brand-new GT500 in the image of the '67 GT500, right down to things like the Wimbledon White paint, rollbar, Super Snake hood, brushed aluminum door panels, engine block painted Ford blue, and a myriad of other details to pay tribute and respect the original design?

That's just crazy talk, right? Well, the winner might go stark, raving mad. Actually, the thought of winning such a dynamic duo makes the sweepstakes almost irresistible. This mania is what the originators, Mark Breiner and Patrick Meehan at Dream Giveaways (actually, United Charities International is the corporate name), had in mind when they came up with the giveaway cars.

"We are a fund-raising consultant to national charities," Pat explained. One of these national charities is the Healing Heroes Network. HHN provides treatment not covered by the Veterans Administration to wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. When they needed a fundraiser, they came to United Charities International.

They chose a Shelby giveaway for a couple reasons. "I think the demographic probably lends itself more to folks of military age," Mark said. Military age means men and women in their 20s and 30s-young adults like Mustangs. Of the Mustangs, the Shelbys are the hottest and most desirable. The charity awards every active-duty soldier one free ticket to honor their service to our country. Most have bought more tickets to increase their odds of winning-like anybody else, of course.

Pat said, "Part of that [free ticket] is so more soldiers will become acquainted with the services Healing Heroes offers and to encourage medical providers to become part of the network. Healing Heroes Network bought both the classic 1967 Shelby GT500 and the new 2010 Shelby GT500. However, they wanted to get Ford "to come on board to try to make something special."

The idea for the Patriot edition gelled when HHN found what they call the "iconic GT500" in the '67 model. This fastback was the first year for the GT500. HHN looked at the '67 GT500 and used words like "work of art" and "well-known icon," They imagined what a 2010 would look like created with the same special features. Melvin Betancourt was the head of Ford's design team. "Melvin immediately latched onto the theme," Mark said. "We took both cars into the studio near Detroit and set them side by side."

Many of the classic upgrades became clear with the cars in close proximity. Color was an issue. The 2010 white, Pat said, is "drastically different" from the original Wimbledon White. Looking back at the history, he recalls the '65 Shelby was "offered in any color you wanted, as long as it was Wimbledon White. All the Shelby's that year were Wimbledon White."

White with Guardsman Blue LeMans stripes became the theme for the Patriot. From here, they wanted to pay tribute and respect the original design, but not go over the top. "It had to be one of those designs where less is more. Ford wanted a lot of subtle modifications that would add up to something really big," Mark said.

Although Ford's design team came up with the numerous modifications, they used a tier-one provider Alternative Automotive Technologies in Troy, Michigan, to do the actual work. AAT is a provider to several OEMs and specializes in building show cars.

Led by point man Bryan Chambers, AAT completed the Patriot GT500 about a week before the big Specialty Equipment Market Association show held in Las Vegas in early November 2009. The Mustang Dream Giveaway promotion kicked off at SEMA in the Ford booth Nov. 3, the first day United Charities could officially accept entries.