Eric English
December 1, 2007
OK, we admit it. We lampooned the performance of the '68 GT350 in our story as a way of explaining the motivation behind Jerry Logan's wildly modified example seen here. Now, for any fan of the same model who's tempted to blast off a letter of indignation, let it be known that we'd be thrilled to own one of these beautiful cars ourselves, stock or otherwise. In other words, hold your fire!

With little reservation, we can say that the '68 GT350 seen here is the most modified street-going Shelby we've ever seen. In and of itself that may not be overly remarkable, but when you consider that stock restorations are currently bringing head-spinning numbers at resale, the observation may be a bit surprising. In this light, asking why owner Jerry Logan wanted to modify such a car to this extent becomes the question of the hour. The answer? Simply put, he wanted a car with a more meaningful identity than a standard fastback would provide. Fact is, he wanted a car with provenance.

As owner of a '67 GT500 in the past, Jerry clearly understands the mystique which accompanies a real Shelby, and to tack a bunch of fiberglass and emblems to a chassis that didn't originally wear the name just wasn't his cup of tea. That said, 40-year-old performance wasn't in the plan either, so a less-than-pristine Shelby was tracked down and a modern, state-of-the-art build commenced.

Before proceeding, let's bring a little perspective to any purists in our midst-those who might be aghast that a rare, original Shelby has been altered so far from stock. For starters, the rare terminology is really a matter of degree. We agree with enthusiasts who want to call it such, but the production run of 1,431 '68 GT350s-including 404 convertibles-hardly puts it in the same league as other heavy hitters in the arena of the unusual: the '63 1/2 lightweight Galaxie (200 estimated), the '65 Shelby (562), and the '68 Cougar GTE (394) to name a few. In the end, altering one of more than 1,000 '68 GT350s still leaves plenty of stock examples for the proper-paint-daub crowd.

Point two is that in stock form, the '68 GT350 is the weakest-performing Shelby of the era due to its basis on the new J-code 302 four-barrel engine. Save for an open-element air cleaner, GT350s built prior to mid-March received this pedestrian small-block with nary a change from standard corporate fare. After mid-March, the Shelby American World Registry explains that Shelby aluminum high-rise intakes were fitted, and a service campaign was launched to retrofit the earlier cars. Regardless, we'd say the result had a dubious impact on performance, what with the 302's nonperformance cylinder heads, lackluster hydraulic cam, and log-style exhaust manifolds. Factory ratings said 230 horses with the iron four-barrel intake, or 250 with the high-rise, but power was downright laughable either way by musclecar standards. That's right, laughable.

With this sobering truth in mind, Jerry's decision to lay on the full high-tech treatment to his '68 begins to come into focus.

It doesn't take but a moment in the presence of what Jerry likes to call his "Logan Edition" GT350 to recognize that virtually no stone has been left unturned in bringing this car up to modern standards of performance. Credit for the achievement goes to Dave Eckert and the crew of Eckert's Rod and Custom (ERC) in Molalla, Oregon, who worked with Jerry to create the initial game plan, then followed through on virtually every facet of the project. Visually, the car makes a powerful statement with much of the original Shelby fiberglass, 20 coats of DeBear three-stage acrylic urethane in Cadillac Pearl White, and custom touches galore. The latter includes all kinds of hand-fabricated items, including the lower spoiler, grille/driving lights, stain-less grilles in the scoops, shaved door handles, and so on. Several other points bear specific mention for their craftsmanship, such as the consistent 3/16-inch body gaps throughout, the modified bumpers that suck up next to the body, and the frenched (flush) emblems, hood locks, headlights, and taillights. This is serious street rod-style stuff.

For reasons explained earlier, you can imagine the modification of choice on any '68 350 will involve the powerplant, and Eckert and company have indeed quashed any concerns about a lack of grunt. In place of the weak-kneed original 302 lies a potent 347-incher specifically built to complement the Paxton Novi 1200 supercharger. Brodix heads and SRP pistons result in a blower-friendly 8.7:1 compression ratio, while the bottom end is built to take a beating with a forged SCAT 3.40-inch crank and SCAT rods. A Professional Products aluminum intake provides the mounting point for a blower-spec Demon 650, concealed by the sweet-looking, cast-aluminum carb enclosure that's included in Paxton's blow-through carbureted supercharger kits.

Helping implement the prodigious power is a TCI C4 and torque converter, teamed with a Gear Vendors overdrive unit, for a total of six forward gears. A 9-inch rearend housing was narrowed, fitted with big bearing axle ends, Baer's 11.625-inch Touring brake kit, and filled with 3.50 gears and a Detroit Locker diff. Baer 13-inch discs are the perfect complement up front, and when combined with a '95 Cobra master cylinder, effectively give Jerry as much braking power as he could ever need. Likewise, sparkling Raceline GT wheels provide a mounting place for as much rubber as might ever be desired, measuring 17x8 inches in front, and 18x9 inches out back.

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The road less traveled has certainly been embraced throughout the build of this Shelby, with perhaps no better example than the underpinnings. Eckert explained that the desire to drop the car in the weeds and make it handle dictated a custom suspension, as nothing on the current market tucked up far enough underneath to meet his expectations. Beginning with custom subframe connectors and beefed-up rear framerails for adequate stiffness, Eckert's crew dove in up front with fabricated lower control arms, '96 Mustang spindles, a steering rack originally intended for an '86 Ford Escort, Global West strut rods, and modified GP Moto struts with QA1 450-pound coilovers. Not to be overlooked is the completely revised rear suspension, consisting of Eckert's own four-bar system, custom swaybar, and QA1 coilovers.

Moving inside, the customized nature of this beast continues to roll. Obvious items include a full complement of Auto Meter gauges, a center console with {{{Merkur}}} shifter and DVD player, and a Vintage Air Gen II A/C. Almost expected is the full leather skins over the original seats and door panels, but we were startled to find the metal portions of the doors and dash to have the full leather treatment as well-bet you've never seen that in a classic Mustang before. In spite of having a clean slate from the start, we think Jerry was smart to retain many of the original '67/'68 interior styling elements-gauge placement, panel shapes, and so on, but particularly the factory Shelby rollbar with inertia-reel shoulder harnesses.

Though his GT350 contains some of the best street rod-style workmanship one could imagine, Jerry has every intention of driving this show-stopper whenever and wherever his heart desires. The results of the project were everything hoped for when it launched, with reports of crisp response in all areas of the performance envelope, and cosmetics like nothing else on the face of the planet. The latter can only be realized in the flesh, which is when you realize Jerry's vision for the ultimate Shelby is truly over the top by any standard.

Perhaps it won't resonate with every enthusiast of the breed, but this GT350 is a shining example as to why the classic automotive hobby is thriving as never before. We find more and more enthusiasts choosing to stray from a once-common path, seizing on a new spirit of open-mindedness and making the most of unprecedented options and oppor-tunities to build the car of their dreams. Jerry is clearly one who has broken from the cookie-cutter mentality, teaming with Dave Eckert to create a one-of-a-kind {{{Ford}}} that we're thrilled to share with our readers.

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The Details
'68 Shelby GT350 Fastback

Owner: Jerry Logan, Hillsboro, Oregon

Stock '68 302 block, 0.030-inch overbore
347 ci of displacement
SCAT 3.40-inch forged crank
SCAT rods
SRP pistons
Comp Cams hydraulic roller cam
Brodix ST 5.0R cylinder heads
Crane roller rocker arms
Professional Products intake manifold
Demon 650 Mighty Demon carburetor
Paxton Novi 1200 supercharger
Modified '70 Mustang tank w/in-tank electric pump
Mallory Hy-Fire VI CD ignition

TCI 2,000-rpm converter
Gear Vendors overdrive

Narrowed 9-inch
3.50 gears
Detroit Locker
Dutchman 31-spline axles

Custom 2 1/2-inch polished stainless
Summit mufflers
Modified JBA headers

Front: Eckert's Rod & Custom modified w/rack-and-pinion, custom lower control arms, GP Moto struts, QA1 450-pound coilover springs, custom subframe connectors
Rear: Eckert's Rod & Custom four-bar w/QA1 450-pound coilover springs, ERC rear sway bar, custom rear subframe reinforcement

Front: Baer 13-inch disc, drilled and slotted, two-piston caliper
Rear: Baer 11.625-inch disc, drilled and slotted, single piston caliper

Front: Raceline GT, 17x8-inch
Rear: Raceline GT, 18x9-inch

Front: Toyo Proxes, P235/40ZR17
Rear: Toyo Proxes, P275/35ZR18

Auto Meter gauges, custom leather seating and door panels, custom-built console with Merkur XR4Ti shifter and power-window controls, Moto Lita steering wheel, tilt column, power mirrors, Vintage Air Gen II air conditioning

Cadillac Pearl White tri-stage acrylic urethane hand-fabricated lower spoiler, grille/driving lights, lower quarter-scoops; shaved door handles; tucked bumpers; frenched emblems, hood locks, headlights, and taillights

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