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1970 Shelby GT500 Convertible - Thoroughly Impressive
Bob Gaines' Thoroughbred '70 GT500 Convertible Has the Rare Combination of Drag Pack, Four-Speed, and "Big Suspension"
"You've got to shoot this car!" Ed Meyer kept telling us during the Mid-America Performance Ford and Shelby Meet in Tulsa. Parked in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel, where all show-goers could see, was the product of Ed's pleading-Bob Gaines' '70 Shelby GT500 convertible with Drag Pack, four-speed, 3.91 Traction-Lok, and "big suspension." Just restored, the Shelby had a coming-out party at the show.
Rarity aside, this Shelby stands out nationally as one of those mind-blowing thoroughbred restorations, meaning every part is either N.O.S. or original. Gaines, a well-known collector of vintage Shelbys from the Kansas City environs, spent eight years rounding up N.O.S. parts, many from Meyer. It's also the only one in Grabber Green, a special-order color.
Believe it or not, when Gaines fired up the 428 Cobra Jet engine, he did so with an original, 33-year-old "assembly-line" Group 27-F battery. The thought was wonderful. The very lead that combined with acid to create a flow of electrons in 1969 was doing so in 2003.
Everywhere, inside and out, this GT500 is a model of originality. The reflective tape stripes on the side of the car are "off-white," in Bob's words, but reproduction stripes are much brighter. The N.O.S. stripe kit was over 30 years old and "very difficult to apply," Bob recalls.
The shifter knob is also stock, but almost odd in appearance. You'll see most '69-'70 four-speed Shelbys with a white shifter ball, same as the standard Mustang. However, the Shelby came with a simulated wood knob, sourced from the more expensive Cougar.
Gaines is an MCA Gold Card Judge approved to judge any year Shelby in the Shelby American Automobile Club. Keeping the flame lit is his goal with his collection. Apparently, the '70 Drag Pack GT500 was a prize. The convertible was a 50,000-mile original when Gaines bought it nine years ago, and Bob credits Meyer for helping locate it.
"A '70 Drag Pack convertible is probably one of the hardest restorations to do because there are so many rare parts on it," says Bob. Consequently, Bob worked on his easier-to-restore Shelbys and procrastinated on the Drag Pack convertible until fall 2002. The restoration took eight months. Gaines did most of the work except for the paint and body, which was handled by Jeff Yergovich.
We mentioned "big suspension." What's that all about?
First, Ed supplied us with numbers. Shelby Automotive built 43 Drag Pack GT500 convertibles for '69-'70. Twenty-three were '69s, and 20 became '70 models. Drag Pack refers to cars with the oil cooler and either the 3.91:1 Traction-Lok rearend or Detroit Locker 4.30.
At the middle of the '69 model year, there were three different Mustang suspension combinations (according to size of spindles, rotors, tie-rod ends, and drag links). There was the regular Mustang suspension, the Boss 429 suspension (which collectors call the KKX suspension), and the Boss 302 suspension for the new F60x15 wide oval tires. For 1970, Ford beefed up the suspension on all Mustangs, so the spindles, rotors, tie-rod ends, and drag links were the same size.
Shelbys began receiving the big suspension, called "extra heavy duty," on April 15, 1969. This was still the '69 model year. However, because the '70 Shelbys were actually leftover '69s-updated with hood stripes, chin spoiler, and tuning upgrades to satisfy government emissions-it's possible for '70 Shelbys to have the regular Mustang suspension rather than the "big suspension" with the F60x15 tires. The wide ovals on Bob's GT500 are N.O.S. originals.
Meyer was right-we did have to shoot this car. It is our duty to announce the arrival of a true thoroughbred to the Mustang hobby.