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14 Shelby Europa Mustangs - The European Connection
Belgian Ford dealer Claude Dubois created only 14 Shelby Europa Mustangs, including just two convertibles. Finland's Dr. Rauno Harvima owns both.
Editor's note: Wolfgang Kohrn may be the most influential Mustang enthusiast who doesn't live in the United States. Kohrn, a resident of Germany and a member of the First Mustang Club of Germany, maintains his "Unexpected Ponysite" Web site, located at www.ponysite.de, where he keeps tabs on unusual or otherwise interesting Mustangs, including movie cars (especially Bullitt and the James Bond films Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever), T-5s, Trans-Am Boss 302s, and European racing Mustangs. He's also become the Shelby American Automobile Club's semi-registrar-"You can't be a full registrar for just 14 cars," he says-for the '71-'72 Shelby Europa Mustangs, which were created and sold in Europe by Belgium's Claude Dubois.
Our thanks to Wolfgang for sharing his knowledge of the Shelby Europas. More information about the Shelby Europa Mustangs can be found at Kohrn's Shelby Europa registry online at http://www.people.freenet.de/pony/sheleur.htm.
When Dr. Rauno Harvima, from Kuopio, Finland, opens his garage door, he can choose between two '71 Shelby Europa convertibles. No one else has a choice of even one because Dr. Harvima owns the only two that were built.
A passionate Mustang owner with two other Mustangs in his stable (an early '6411/42 convertible and a Canadian '79 hatchback), Dr. Harvima has been a longtime admirer of the Shelby Europa Mustangs. When he bought his first, the green one, in 2001, it had already been somewhat restored, although it was missing some of the original Shelby equipment. With time on his hands during the long Finnish winters, Rauno was able to gather many of the rare items.
Little is known about these rare Mustangs, aside from Shelby American Automobile Club registry records. Few of us have even seen one. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Harvima, we've uncovered some additional information about the Shelby Europa Mustangs.
Claude Dubois: Europe's Shelby ConnectionFrom SAAC records and an interview with Claude Dubois, we've learned that Dubois, a Ford dealer in Belgium for the Benelux countries from 1966 to 1972, created 14 Shelby Europas in 1971 and 1972 under a license agreement with Carroll Shelby. A race car driver himself, Dubois met Carroll Shelby at Le Mans and recognized the potential market for Shelby cars in Europe.
During the '60s, Claude sold more than 120 Shelbys in Europe via his associated partners. Then, in early 1970, he received a note that Shelby was ceasing production of performance cars. Claude quickly visited Shelby American to ensure future business by purchasing over 30 '70 Shelbys from the remaining stock. He also discussed with Carroll the possibility of a licensing contract so he could offer Shelby Europas overseas. Dubois later ordered 14 cars via Bob Ford dealership in Detroit and added the Shelby performance parts, delivered directly from Shelby American, in his garage.
At the Brussels Motorshow in 1971, Shelby visited the Dubois booth, which had the first Shelby Europa on display. Dubois sold 12 Europas at the show, with a delivery time of three months.
Dubois' files and memory reveal that most of the 14 '71-'72 Shelby Europas, 12 SportsRoofs and two convertibles were powered by the M-code 351 4V engine. Dubois admits he didn't care for big-blocks, saying, "They were too heavy up front in a Mustang." He does remember building a white 429 SportsRoof into a unique GT500, which has not yet surfaced. In the Shelby Europa sales brochure, horsepower is listed at 320 for the standard GT350, while the GT500 was either 360 (modified 351 4V) or 405/410 hp (429). The standard GT500 was indeed equipped with the same 351 4V engine as the GT350, only it came with a high-performance Shelby cam, a 780-cfm Holley carb on an aluminum intake, and a Shelby/Mallory ignition. Still, all Shelby Europas received GT350 designations on their ID tags due to the available paperwork.
All around, Dubois added adjustable Koni shocks to the factory Competition Suspension, which was aided up front by a special geometry setup that Claude based on his race experience. In the rear, he added twin torque links between the chassis and rear axle, along with extra coil springs to stabilize the rear tires during acceleration. The Traction-Lok 3.25:1 differential allowed European drivers to reach 220 kmh (136 mph) at 5,400 rpm. Automatics with the 3.00:1 could theoretically hit 230 kmh (142 mph). At this speed, visibility plays a vital role, so a pair of Marchal-like Cibie "Iode" lights was installed in the grille. Although sales literature mentions the availability of either fog lights or driving lights, and SAAC records mention the typical Shelby Marchal brand, only Cibie lights have been found on surviving cars. Maybe these were indeed used due to their availability in Belgium.
The Shelby Europas were striped with unique side decals, produced in Belgium, one with GT350 lettering and the other with GT500. The grille emblem was basically the same as found on '70 Shelbys. The emblem was also attached to convertible rear quarters and fastback C-pillars. A special Shelby snake-embossed gas cap was also used. Another addition was the Shelby lettering across the rear decklid, not always installed the same height, according to surviving cars. With such a low number of cars produced, there was little consistency to the series.
Special Shelby Cal 500 slotted 15x7-inch alloy wheels removed weight and allowed better ventilation of the brakes under performance conditions. Power-assisted stopping was enhanced by ventilated heavy-duty discs with anti-fade brake pads up front and large-diameter rear brake drums.
Performance options included the Ram Air hood and English-brand Avon tires. VR70x15s were listed in documentation, but Rauno's original paperwork shows ER70x15VR. An Italian steering wheel added a sporty flavor to the interior, although Rauno found a '69 Shelby steering wheel in his green Shelby Europa and subsequently added the same wheel to the brown car. It was recently confirmed by Claude that an Italian steering wheel was one of the standard modifications.
On the luxury side, the driver was surrounded by air conditioning, power windows, electric rear-window defrosting, power steering, dual racing mirrors, tinted glass, and a tilt wheel. Color choices were Dark Green Metallic, White, Light Pewter Metallic, Grabber Green Metallic, Bright Red, Medium Brown Metallic, and Bright Blue Metallic. The Shelby Europas received a special Claude Dubois manufacturer's plate; however, homologation was quite risky, as Claude used 1970 GT350 documentation to get the cars approved for European roads. Claude's business was also undercapitalized at the time and the oil crisis caused additional harm. Sales were subsequently discontinued in favor of the Shelby Europa GT250, a Mercury Comet with a 289 GT40 engine.
The Shelby Europa GT350 sold for about 350,000 Belgium francs, just 20,000 francs over the price of a non-Shelby '71 351 Mach 1 with the same factory options.
Nine of the 14 Shelby Europas are known to have survived, although not all are yet confirmed. Most of the other known Shelby Europas are undergoing long-term restorations; one remains a daily driver while another was stolen years ago in the Netherlands. Two others reside in Sweden, and one is in the hands of a collector in New Zealand.