Jerry Heasley
February 1, 2008

With Shelby Automobiles bringing back GT500s, Hertz rent-a-racers, the KR series, and even the fabled Super Snake, the return of the Terlingua nameplate to the '08 Shelby lineup isn't a big surprise. It's definitely a pleasant one for Shelby enthusiasts-no question about it. The big surprise is that, in addition to the '08 Terlingua V-6 Mustang, Shelby is planning to build a "continuation" series '67 Terlingua Mustang. Shelby Automobiles unveiled both cars, along with a CSX4000 series 427 Cobra in Terlingua colors, at a press conference/party last November at the SEMA show.

Our trips to photograph and gather information on the Mustangs began with a visit to Keith Craft Motorsports in Dallas. There, Rob Camp showed us the '67 Terlingua coupe, painted and lettered like one of the original Terlingua race cars of the '60s. Bill Neale, famous automotive artist and life-long pal of Carroll Shelby, drew the original Terlingua logo. He still lives near Dallas.

Late-model Mustang drag-racing fans will recognize the name Keith Craft, who is most often associated with Keith Craft Inc., a builder of racing engines in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. However, Keith Craft Motorsports in Dallas builds early hot rods and late-model restomods, including Mustangs.

Rob is a managing partner at Keith Craft Motorsports. He worked at a Ford dealership for more than 20 years and received the Ford Senior Master Technician Certificate. He gets grease under his fingernails and knows how to build cars. "Shelby Autos asked us to build this Mustang as a prototype," Rob says. "The car had to be completed for the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, so we built it from the ground up in 82 days."

This was a Friday, and SEMA began the following Monday. The coupe already resembled a show car. We marveled along with Rob when he said, "Three and a half weeks ago, this '67 coupe was sitting on my lift as an empty body shell."

The '67 is a serious street-legal Mustang. Underhood, the Keith Craft-built 408ci V-8 turns out 525 hp. According to Keith Craft's Web site, "Only a few of these cars, with an MSRP beginning at approximately $99,500, will be built annually under contract by Keith Craft Motorsports. Each will receive a Shelby serial number that will be registered in an official Shelby Automobiles registry."

Late that Friday morning, Bill arrived at Keith Craft Motorsports' shop in Plano, Texas. Rob says that Bill took such an interest in the car that he personally applied the decals to the front fenders. He wanted this car to be right.

Bill was obviously excited about the project. Right away, he jumped in the driver seat and laid down some rubber in the parking lot. On his return, Bill explained how the Terlingua project got off the ground. "Shelby heard we weren't going to do anymore restomod '66s," he says, referring to the '66 Terlingua coupes that he had licensed in early 2004 to Dallas Mustang Parts ("Terlingua Rides Again," July '04, pg. 44). That deal is over, with just four or five built, according to Bill.

"Shelby was in my studio and said, 'Neale, why don't we do some Terlingua cars?' The next thing I know, Amy [Boylan] calls. Then she comes down to spend a couple days with us. We talked and talked. I said, 'OK, let's do it.' Out of that came this '67. The people at Keith Craft did a great job."

Amy Boylan, of course, is president of Shelby Automobiles in Las Vegas. She's the fireplug that gets the wheels turning, literally.

We were familiar with the '67 Terlingua of the '60s, but we were anxious to see the treatment Shelby gave the '08 Terlingua Mustang. We wondered how they molded the theme onto a Gen 5 coupe. In Dallas, all we heard was that the new Mustang carried a reverse paint scheme from the '67. Instead of the infamous Gawdawful Yellow with black hood and stripes. The '08 is the reverse in color, but Shelby will still offer Gawdawful Yellow with black stripes.

Photo Gallery

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Rob loaded the '67 onto an enclosed trailer and headed west to Las Vegas. We flew to Vegas and drove north to Shelby Automobiles on the grounds of Las Vegas International Speedway. We walked into the Mod Shop for our first glimpse of the '08 Terlingua and were blown away by the totally finished look. The badges on the rear taillight panel, for example, are solid metal, looking more like jewelry than an emblem. The paint scheme is enough to jerk heads, but the car is also loaded with special features, including 20-inch American Racing Razor wheels, new Borla side exhausts, a Shelby fiberglass "deep draw" hood, and a flat-black mesh grille. Replacing the Mustang running horse in the grille is the Shelby Terlingua rabbit-a substantial piece, cut from a solid chunk of billet.

Shelby will offer two versions of the new Terlingua, both V-6s-a base model and a Performance Pack version with a Paxton supercharger for more than 375 hp. With 155 fewer pounds over the front wheels, the V-6 is bound to be more nimble than a V-8 Mustang, especially with the upgraded Shelby suspension. It's less expensive to insure than a V-8, and with 375 hp from the supercharged version, the V-6 Terlingua needs no excuses because it's easily faster than most V-8 cars on the market today.

Amy explains, "All our cars are built for street, with some track elements. The V-6 Terlingua is a balanced performance car. It's like the Shelby GT and the CS6."

Amy is a world different from Carroll Shelby in that she's a woman, she's short in stature, and she comes not from Texas but from the East. She does a poor Texas accent (but she's working on it). "Terlingua is an irreverent lifestyle. It's about racing and having fun. We wanted to bring something back with six cylinders to give everyone a piece of the Shelby brand that is younger, hipper, and of the antiestablishment type of mentality."

We understand keeping the new Terlingua under wraps. Hundreds of visitors walk in and out of Shelby Automobiles, many snapping pictures. For our photo shoot, Gary Davis actually cut a hole in the car cover so the driver could see out as he slowly steered to our photo location across the street.

Rob met us there with the '67, which didn't need to be kept secret. Basically, it resembles a classic coupe somebody had built into a restomod. It's the first "old" car built by the new Shelby Automobiles. It's still too early to tell where they'll be built-or if they'll be built at all, though at press time Amy said they will. We know for sure-the '08 is a go.

'67 Shelby Terlingua MustangBody

  • Keith Craft Motorsports custom nose panel with brake ducts
  • Drip-rail delete
  • Quarter-panels widened 1 inch
  • Stainless hood pins
  • KCM custom stainless trunk pin
  • Gas-cap delete
  • KCM functional front-brake ducts
  • Functional rear-brake scoops and ducts
  • Rotunda racing bullet mirrors
  • Rolled fender lips, front and rear
  • Painted graphics
  • KCM hood-latch-delete panel
  • Painted rear bumper
  • Custom painted GT grille and foglights
  • Emblem delete
  • Rear chrome delete
  • Gawdawful Yellow and black paint

Drivetrain

  • Keith Craft 408ci engine: 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque
  • Quick Fuel 750-cfm carburetor
  • Lakewood scattershield
  • Concept One pulley system
  • Power Master alternator and starter
  • Be-Cool cooling system
  • JBA shorty headers
  • KCM custom side exhaust
  • Total Control billet engine mounts
  • KCM custom valve covers and air cleaner
  • Tremec TKO five-speed
  • Ram aluminum flywheel and hydraulic clutch
  • Moser 9-inch rearend with posi and 3.50 gears

Brakes

  • Baer/Shelby 13-inch front and rear discs
  • Power booster

Wheels and Tires

  • American Racing Torque Thrust II wheels -
  • 17x8 front, 17x9.5 rear
  • BFGoodrich G-Force T/A tires - 245/45ZR17
  • front, 275/40ZR17 rear

Front Suspension

  • Total Control Products upper and lower
  • adjustable control arms
  • Progressive-rate springs
  • 1-inch sway bar
  • VariShock 14-way adjustable shocks
  • TCP power rack-and-pinion steering
  • TCP tilt steering column

Rear Suspension

  • Mid-eye four-leaf springs
  • VariShock 14-way adjustable shocks
  • 3/4-inch sway bar
  • KCM custom subframe connectors

Fuel System

  • Fuel Safe fuel cell
  • Aeromotive fuel pump and regulator

Interior

  • Corbeau GTS 2 leather seats
  • JME gauge cluster with white faces
  • Four-point rollbar
  • AM/FM/cassette with front and rear speakers
  • Remote 10-disc CD changer (optional)
  • Classic Auto Air A/C
  • Grant Classic steering wheel

'08 Shelby

  • Terlingua Mustang
  • V-6 Base Pack
  • Ford Racing Performance Pack:Cold-air kit
  • Dual exhaust
  • Performance calibration
  • Ford Racing five-speed with short-throw shifter
  • Ford Racing suspension pack
  • 18-inch Shelby GT-style wheels
  • 235/50x18 tires
  • Shelby fiberglass deep-draw hood, black
  • Pony Package grille with foglights
  • Hood pin kit
  • Flat-black striping kit
  • Terlingua hood and fender decals
  • V-6 rear spoiler
  • GT-style rear valance
  • Classic Design Concepts rear decklid cover
  • Terlingua trunk-lid emblem
  • Shelby doorsill plates with Terlingua logo
  • Terlingua floor mats
  • Terlingua shift knob
  • Shelby-numbered dash plaque
  • Shelby-numbered engine plaque

V-6 Performance Pack(adds to base package)

  • Paxton supercharger - 375 hp
  • Shelby gauge pod with boost gauge
  • Shelby by Borla side exhaust
  • Baer six-piston big-brake kit
  • 2-inch American Racing Razor wheels
  • 255/35x20 tires
  • Shelby front fascia
  • Flat-black mesh grille
  • Terlingua "rabbit" billet front logo
  • Shelby GT500-style rear fascia
  • Side scoops
  • Aluminum side-window plates, black
  • Sequential taillights
  • Terlingua hubcap covers
  • Shelby running-board heatshields
  • Ford GT-style start button
  • Shelby Terlingua engine-cap kit

The Terlingua Legacy
For the record, Terlingua is the name of a tiny town in West Texas, near the Mexican border. There, in the early '60s, Carroll Shelby got into a real-estate deal with Dallas attorney David Witts for the purchase of 223,000 acres of land, which was full of huge jackrabbits. Mainly, Shelby and his group of friends used the land to hunt and ride their dirt bikes. So, when Shelby decided to name one of his racing teams after his ranch at Terlingua, Bill Neale got involved drawing a logo.

"The idea was to use a form of heraldry the way you see them done in Europe, with lions, eagles, and gargoyles," Bill says. "I did a rabbit because the jackrabbits are big in that part of Texas. He's holding up his paw to say 'No more peppers in the chili.' Shelby liked it. He liked the yellow and the black, which resulted in Shelby asking me to help with a paint job in 1967 for the Trans-Am Mustangs. That's when I added the Terlingua Racing Team logo. The rest of it is kind of a long story about how much fun we've had putting the decals on various cars and things of that nature. It's been on so doggone-many cars and airplanes."

Terlingua didn't originate on the '67 Trans Am Shelby coupes. The emblem first appeared on the '65 Shelby GT350 team car (5R002) and the 427 Cobra (CSX3002) that raced at Green Valley, Texas, on February 14, 1965. Ken Miles was behind the wheel of the Shelby Mustang's first win that day. So Terlingua goes back a long way in Shelby history.

In order to sell the land, Tom Tierney, a Ford PR man, dreamed up the idea to have a chili cook-off. This idea sprang from the chili suppers Bill and David had on Friday nights during the early '60s.

Bill says, "We never meant to have more than one cook-off. We figured we'd have a big party, some fun, and get a lot of publicity. It was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. It was in Sports Illustrated. It was in a lot of publications. This was due to Tom's influence that he had as PR guy for Ford."

Most of us have heard and read the story of Terlingua many times. Still, it's fun to hear Carroll Shelby tell it in his own Texas accent. Your author riled Carroll because our simple questions had him thinking we'd never heard the story before.

Jerry: The racing story about Terlingua is pretty well known.

Carroll: Jerry Titus was a hell of a driver and the spark plug in our car.

Jerry: The Terlingua Racing Team car?

Carroll: Yeah. I owned 220,000 acres in Terlingua with David Witts from Dallas.

Jerry: Terlingua is the name of the town, right?

Carroll: The name of the town, yes, and we had a ranch. I bought half the Cherokowa Ranch, which David Witts owned. And we renamed it Terlingua Ranch-220,000 acres of rocks. So, we decided to sell it. Jerry, have you heard the damn story?

Jerry: Yes, sir.

Carroll: Well, then there's no use telling it again.

Jerry: It's better coming from you.

Carroll: All right, then we decided to sell it. So, Tom Tierney, a former Ford PR man, said to give him a couple weeks. And he came back and said, 'We're going to have the world's first championship chili cook-off in Terlingua. The only people who can come are from the press, and all they can bring is their sleeping bag and a toothbrush.' And that was the first one. Now, it's world famous. It's so famous that typical Texans got to arguing with each other, and after 40 years they still don't speak. Now two organizations have two different chili cook-offs on the same day across the street from each other.

Jerry: Did the chili cook-off help sell that land?

Carroll: Yeah, we sold it a couple years later.