Jeff Ford
August 1, 2004
Contributers: Jerry Heasley, Jeff Ford Photos By: Jerry Heasley

Shelby has arguably built more of the wildest interpretations of the Ford automobile than anyone we know. His cars are held in awe by the vast majority of Ford enthusiasts. Even late-model Ford guys know Carroll Shelby and his menagerie of wild beasts. But within the wild there are always standouts and strange animals. From mavericks that bear Shelby nameplates to Cobras that inspired a Cosby comedy record album, Shelby kept American Ford fans on the edge of their seat wondering what manner of wicked wildness would come from deep within his garage space.

Here, we hit the ones that piqued our interest and made us want to research the stories on them. Some-like one of the four convertible GT 350s-beg for us to ask more questions than the Shelby American World Registry (SAWR) can answer. So another story might be in the offing.

Sit back, grab a cold one, and delve into the wild world of Shelby circa '65-'72-that's right, '72.

A Little Tex-Mex Anyone?They like Shelbys south of the border, too. Eduardo Velasquez was the connection in Mexico. He bought a Mustang hardtop from Shelby in 1965. SAAC believes this hardtop might have been one of the two prototypes Ken Miles drove to engineer the GT350 suspension components. Velasquez raced the car. by 1966, he had become a Shelby parts dealer. In 1967, he entered into a partnership with Carroll Shelby to build Shelbys in Mexico. The company was Shelby de Mexico, which is also what the car was called.

All the Shelby de Mexicos are odd-looking performance Mustangs because they are based on the hardtop body style. The assembly plant in Mexico, source of the Shelby Mustangs, did not produce the fastback. So they had to use the hardtop. Apparently, none were convertibles. These cars are obviously Shelbys with their fiberglass body pieces, taillights, and various badges and emblems.

Production was 169 in 1967, 203 in 1968, 306 in 1969, and about 200 in 1971. Production in 1970 was limited to one race car. two race cars were built in 1969. Velasquez also campaigned a Shelby Group II notchback race car in 1966 and 1967.

Drop-Tops (Nobody Rides For Free)At the tail end (the last four cars built until the continuation cars of the early '80s) of the '66 production run, Carroll Shelby built four GT350 drop-tops. Though there is speculation Shelby gave these four cars away, as far as we can tell, all the cars were sold within six months to a year of their production by Shelby-authorized used car dealers. Here is how it went down:

The first one was a green convertible with a black top, an automatic, chrome magnums, and no stripes. The car was sold to one of Shelby's dealers as a used car, leading us to believe this might have been a company vehicle, though we have no supporting info for this . . . yet.

Next in line was the yellow with a black top equipped with a four-speed and chrome magnums. This car also was sold to a dealer as a used car. though the SAWR clarifies it as a used company car.

Third was the red with a white top convertible. This one is a bit screwy in many ways. The SAWR lists it as red with a white top, but shipped condition was red with a black top. The car was shown to have a four-speed, but also equipped with air conditioning-a no-no for a hi-po. It also had the chrome magnums. Further muddying the waters, it had not been shipped to a dealer, but sold to Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio. It was not shipped at all, Bob came to Shelby and picked up the car. There is also a credit memo issued in 1967 on the car. it shows the car sold used to the same dealer as the other two.

Last, but not least, is the blue with a white top convertible This car had a few differences from its sibs. For one, it got a fiberglass hood; the other three had all steel. it also had ten-spoke aluminum wheels rather than the Magnums. It was used by Ray Geddes of Ford Motor Company as a company car until sometime in 1967, then shipped to a dealer and sold used.

Maybe Shelby was testing the viability of a convertible. In fact, he also produced a prototype in 1967-which brings us to our next convertible.

PrototypicalWith four convertibles under his belt, Shelby decided to whip up another for tests. This time there would be only one, and it was a dandy. The car was a red GT500 packing the 428 PI and C6 automatic. Rear gear was most likely a 3.00, owing to the factory air conditioning. It mounted Kelsey Hays Mag Star wheels and was destined for trouble. it was stolen from the Shelby facilities and stripped, then recovered one week later. New parts were put on, and it was then used as a test mule for the '68 GT500 convertible and outfitted as a '68. This is the car in all the Shelby press photos. The convertible has been recently unearthed and restored to its '67 specs.

FotwenysevenIn 1967, the GT500 was packing the biggest engine available for the Ford Mustang: a 428 Police interceptor with two four-barrel carbs. But there were those who wanted more, or less, depending on how you look at it. They wanted the power of a 427. There must have been several ordered this way, right? Many were listed with that engine option. But thinking that would be a mistake. In fact, only three were factory original 427s.

The Real Super SnakesJust two were built: one for Shelby and the other for Bill Cosby. In 1966, Shelby built the car as a Super snake. Indeed it was. As wicked as the '67 Mustang Super Snake was, the dual Paxton supercharged, dual four-barrel, 427 FE-powered Cobra had to be the mack-daddy of all Cobras-maybe even of all Fords. Beside the forced air powerplant, the Cobras had a C6 tranny 3.31 limited slip rear axle, Halibrand knockoff wheels, and a Guardsman Blue topcoat that covered a huge hoodscoop built to clear the carbs and superchargers. The package was good for 11.86 at 115.5 mph when tested for the February '68 issue of Road & Track. They estimated the top speed at 182 mph, but lacked the intestinal fortitude to test it to that level.

Bill Cosby's car was built in response to his statement if Shelby would build a 200-mph car, Cosby would buy it. Shelby, always one to rise to a challenge, put together the second Super Snake in 1967. Bill was so impressed he devoted a side of his '68 comedy album "200 M.P.H." to it. The car was scary fast. Cosby's Super snake was so much to handle that one person listed in the SAWR referred to it as the beast. And we guess it was a beast, since it clamed the life of Tony Maxey in 1972. The car was salvaged, and the engine sold to a street-rod builder. The chassis, or what was left of it after the crash, was sold to a fellow in England who didn't return the car to its Super snake status.