Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 18, 2012

I know I've arrived at Brian Kirby's waterway home in Cape Coral, Florida, when I spot the glistening black G.T. 500CR on the paver-covered driveway. Brian is there too, waiting patiently by the garage door so I can take his fastback for a spin. With prices for the restored, rebuilt, and restomodded Shelby from Classic Recreations starting at $149,000, I want to see why, and if, the G.T. 500CR is worth more than most people's homes.

We've covered the G.T. 500CR before, introducing the '67 fastback as a cover story in the July 2010 issue. Officially licensed by Shelby American, each one starts its renewed life as a real '67 or '68 Mustang fastback, although Classic Recreations recently announced that the new '67-'68 Dynacorn body shell is now available as a starting point. With original bodies, Classic Recreations replaces damaged or rusty sheetmetal before building the car back up as a G.T. 500CR with classic Shelby looks, muscular performance, modern conveniences, and show-quality attention to detail.

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Of course, completely rebuilding a vintage Mustang and transforming it into a modern performer doesn't come cheap. Just ask anyone who has restored a Mustang lately. Initially, the G.T. 500CR started at $119,000 for a 525hp base model. However, earlier this year, Classic Recreation discontinued the base model, which effectively raised the cost of entry to $149,000 for the naturally-aspirated 545hp version. The supercharged G.T. 500CR-900S, with 790hp, stickers for $199,000. In any economy, that's a lot of dough. For Brian Kirby, who bought a 545 model in 2010, it has been worth the investment.

Brian has always liked classic musclecars. Now 55, he continues to run the successful Cape Coral contracting and rental storage facility company that his father started in the early 1970s. With his sons grown and now working in the family business, Brian decided he wanted a vintage performance car as a frequent-driver pleasure vehicle. However, after experiencing a number of restored vehicles for sale, he realized that he had forgotten about the sloppy steering, hard starting, and lack of convenience items like power door locks, nice stereo, and air-conditioning in most cases. He heard about the Eleanor recreations from Unique Performance, and even flew out to Los Angeles to inspect one that was for sale by a professional basketball player. Brian was unimpressed, saying the car was too radical for his needs.

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During that visit to the west coast, someone told Brian about the Shelby G.T. 500CRs from Classic Recreations. Fortunate timing allowed Brian to swing through Las Vegas for the G.T. 500CR introduction at Shelby American headquarters, where he met Classic Recreations' owner Jason Engel and had a chance to drive a G.T. 500CR. Two weeks later, Brian put down a deposit.

A year later, he took delivery of his black G.T. 500CR. Now he's letting me take it for a spin.

Sitting in Brian's driveway, the first thing I notice about the G.T. 500CR is the quality. Essentially, it's a show car, painted in slick black with grey stripes—the opposite of Eleanor colors, Brian points out—and nicely detailed right down to the stainless nuts and bolts. The look is Shelby on steroids—muscular but with more of a traditional G.T. 500 look than the Eleanors. Engel has kept the good parts (like the side-exiting exhausts) but eliminated the gaudy (like the Eleanor hood "bump"). Brian pops the hood, revealing the 427 stroker that sits snugly in an engine compartment void of factory shock towers and coated in a textured black finish, which turns out to be a truck bedliner material. I'm accustomed to seeing '67 Shelbys with oval air cleaners, so it's a bit odd to see a modern induction tube with cone air filter and mass air meter feeding the Mass-Flo fuel-injection.