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1969 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 - A Legend Lives On
This 1969 Shelby got the hands-on treatment from an iconic car builder, but likely not the one you expected.
With good reason, much has been made of the passing of Carroll Shelby this past year, as we've truly lost a dominating figure in Ford's high performance history. Shelby pretty much did it all, from production cars, to international championships, to raising money for kids who couldn't afford critically needed medical care. Ironically, the man had comparatively little to do with the '69-70 Mustangs that bear his name—an excellent example being the car spread before you. Ford itself was primarily responsible for the content and styling of what turned out to be the last of the original Shelby Mustangs; cars that had purposefully strayed from the original concept of the rough and tumble '65 G.T. 350s. That's not to say that a '69 couldn't be made into a fierce competitor, and that's exactly what happened with this one way back in 1971.
It began life as serial number 480033, a Silver Jade G.T. 500 that was sold new in Hayward, California. While the exact details aren't known, it was soon stolen and damaged, and ended up in Jerry Lecatse's ABC Auto Wreckers near San Francisco. Turns out Lecatse had a thing for Shelby Mustangs, was a San Francisco region SCCA member, and decided this car would make for a great racer. Lecatse's friend, Lee Fulton, had just petitioned the SCCA for a ruling on his own '69 Shelby, and was told the car would be acceptable in B-Production. Lecatse followed suit, installed a Boss 302 engine, rollcage, 15x8 wheels and other necessary items, and went racing. Log books showed the car competed at Laguna Seca and Sears Point from 1973 to 1975, whereupon it was sold to Gordon and Nancy Gimbel.
The Gimbels were dedicated Shelby fanatics who continued the racing tradition through 1980, running SCCA regional and national events, as well as various Shelby club outings. The '69 was simultaneously an advertising tool for the Gimbel's high-performance parts business, Cobra Performance in Sacramento. By the end of the run, the car had morphed into a Sapphire Blue GT1 class racer with 351 Cleveland motivation, and IMSA-style flared fenders covering 15x10-inch rolling stock.
After a third owner raced the G.T. 500 in GT1 for a couple more years, Gary Goeringer bought the car in 1982 with the intent of returning it to earlier race specs. He placed the Shelby in storage and began to collect parts and save his pennies—then he got a call from a friend with some bad news. The shop where the car was stored had caught fire and 14 cars had been destroyed. Fortunately, the '69 was only damaged, but plenty of parts were lost to flames.
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After the insurance claims were sorted out, and more time and money was spent, Goeringer returned to what was turning into a long term project. In 1989, a friend introduced him to a retired hot rodder and mechanic who lived nearby—it was none other than the legendary Doane Spencer. Over time, Goeringer and Spencer became friends, and Spencer ended up lending a hand with a number of construction features on the '69.
Affectionately known as "Mr. Gadget," Spencer had a love for Fords, and a knack for improving virtually everything he touched—even items that didn't have an obvious problem. Over the years, he was known for his iconic '32 Ford roadster, competition cars he built while at Hollywood Sports Cars in the 1960s (MGB and Sunbeam Tiger to name just a couple), and later wrenching successfully on everything from Ferrari 512s to DeKon Monzas to Lola T600s. Items Spencer worked on for Goeringer included squaring the chassis and replacing a damaged front clip, designing and installing the chrome-moly rollcage, working over the upper and lower control arms, strut rods, rearend, and much more. Working alongside Spencer on his car was what Goeringer describes as "intense and rewarding."
Unfortunately, Spencer succumbed to lung cancer in 1995, and Goeringer understandably lost steam. Finally, at the urging of friend and SAAC director Rick Kopec, Goeringer resumed efforts in 2010, teaming up with Dave Mani at Mani Motorsports in Hayward, California. Goeringer says the decision was made to finish the car "in the spirit of Doane Spencer; with all the attention to quality and detail, all the special fabrication and all the gadgets Doane and I had discussed and planned."
We trained our lenses on the finished product just days after it was completed in April 2012, and can attest that Goeringer and Mani's mission was accomplished. From the Jack-Williams-sprayed Sapphire Blue Dupont Chroma to the Skip-Govia-built Boss 302 and everything in between, this is one trick pony. Other notable features include a Spencer-modified Bud Moore mini plenum intake, Lexan windshield and vented backlight, magnesium American 200S wheels, and Kar Kraft Trans Am front spindles with Lincoln disc brakes. Says Goeringer, "It's been a rewarding partnership for both Dave and I. We discussed each step, many times on a daily basis, in the process of completing 480033. After fifteen months, busted knuckles, and many trips to the powder coater, it's finished. A tribute to its racing history, past owners, and Doane Spencer." Yes indeed!