Jerry Heasley
April 1, 2010

Enthusiasts at last summer's Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, were treated to the chance appearance of a very exclusive Mustang. At the time, the body wore no identification. From ten feet, the red fastback looked like a '69 Shelby GT500. Underneath the body panels, however, was an '07 Shelby GT.

Had the spectators measured, they would have discovered that this custom was 4.5 inches wider and 4 inches longer than a '69 Shelby. It also had 20-inch Shelby Special Edition wheels. Still, the gorgeous red Mustang fooled many people. Of course, this illusion is exactly what Retrobuilt in Nixa, Missouri, was trying to achieve.

"Everyone loved it," said Retrobuilt co-owner Clinton White. "We had several inquiries about purchasing the car. I told them it would be available in the future, but didn't give any details because we were still working things out."

Also, the 2010 Mustang was about to come out. Over the next few months, Retrobuilt began making the steel parts to craft molds for the revamped body style.

In October, Retrobuilt took another step by listing the red prototype, now with Shelby GT500 badges, on eBay. "It's a good marketing tool," Clinton said. "We put it up for auction to gather feedback." Once again, the car got phenomenal response, with bids reaching $38,000 in three days before Clinton pulled the car off the auction site.

"That's when Amy called," Clinton said. Amy, of course, is Amy Boylan, president of Shelby Automobiles. The conflict, as Amy pointed out, was the fact that the Mustang was a Shelby GT. Retrobuilt could sell the car as a modified Shelby GT. However, Carroll Shelby owned the rights to the name GT500.

Amy and Clinton talked on the phone. She invited Retrobuilt to Las Vegas during the week of the SEMA Show. Clinton thought the chance for a licensing agreement was a "tremendous opportunity to work with Carroll Shelby." With the licensing agreement in hand, Retrobuilt is now on track to go into business of building the GT500 CS. The CS, of course, stands for Carroll Shelby and differentiates the name from the GT500.

Clinton gave us the build details in Cliff Notes form: "Basically, we roll in an '05 through '10 Mustang. We unbolt the front clip, bumper cover, and the rear decklid. We hang one-piece quarters that cover the existing rear quarters. We hang door shells over the existing door shells. The front clip, decklid, and the rear bumper bolt on right where the factory had it from Ford. And then they roll through paint and assembly. In two to three weeks, you have a brand-new GT500 CS."

The roof is the only panel Retrobuilt does not change on the Shelby GT500 CS. The hood, front fenders, doors, quarters, and rear decklid are fiberglass, made by Cobra Fiberglass. Basically, Retrobuilt built the parts in sheetmetal before turning them over to Cobra Fiberglass for the molds. Retrobuilt owns the molds; Cobra Fiberglass builds the fiberglass pieces from the molds.

Retrobuilt trucked the red Shelby GT-now lettered the Shelby GT500 CS-to Las Vegas along with a white '10 they completed just days before their trip. They displayed the white '10 at a Shelby Automobiles press event, while the red GT500 CS seen here went to SEMA at the Car & Driver radio booth. The reaction was the same at both places-most people thought the cars were real '69 GT500s.

Whether Retrobuilt starts with a '05-'09 or the slightly redesigned '10 model, the end result is the same on the outside.

Retrobuilt will sell the Shelby GT500 CS under license from Carroll Shelby. The specifics have not been ironed out at press time, but there's a good chance we'll see different packages and perhaps a GT500 CS convertible.

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