Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
June 8, 2012
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

Every Mustang has a story. But no other Mustang has a story like 67413C9A00139, the only '67 convertible delivered to Shelby American. Or should we say stories, because 0139 was built as an early production '67 Mustang for the intended use as a styling prototype for the upcoming '68 Shelby convertible. As such, it was photographed in two different exterior colors for a number of Shelby promotional and advertising materials, likely making it the most photographed Shelby of all time.

If you appreciate rarity and historical significance, then consider these facts as well. In addition to being a one-of-one '67 Shelby convertible, 0139 was the only big-block convertible ever built at the Shelby American facilities in Los Angeles (subsequent '68 G.T. 500s were assembled at the A.O. Smith Company in Michigan). It was also the third G.T. 500 built (behind a fastback and hardtop, which became the "Little Red prototype). At one point, the convertible was assigned to Carroll Shelby as his personal driver. After its conversion into a red '68 Shelby for promotional photography, 0139 was repainted in white for additional photos. There's even some intrigue with a strange tale about a theft, a woman, and Carroll Shelby.

And then there's the most recent saga about 0139's restoration. Current owners Samantha and Brian Styles, who acquired the convertible in 2009, put together a dream team of Shelby experts to assure an accurate restoration by R&A Motorsports. Thanks to the Styles and their efforts to uncover photography and study paperwork, including archival Shelby American documents, the convertible is one of the most researched, well-documented Shelbys in existence.

C-code, S-code, Q-code

On August 16, 1966, just two days before '67 Mustang production began at the San Jose assembly plant, Shelby American placed an order for three '67 Mustangs--a fastback, hardtop, and convertible. Other than body styles, the three cars were identically well-equipped--C6 automatic, Candyapple Red paint, Deluxe black interior, air conditioning, power steering, power front disc brakes, and other options.

The convertible was originally scheduled as a C-code Mustang with a 289 2V small-block, but the VIN was changed to an S-code for a 390 big-block. It left San Jose in November 1966 with the Competition Suspension package and the Shelby-specific, dual-quad 428 Police Interceptor engine, although the Ford VIN was not changed to reflect the Q-code status.

Upon arrival at Shelby American, the '67 convertible was designated as a "company car/engineering prototype for use as the styling vehicle for the following year's '68 Shelby convertible. Like the fastback and hardtop, the convertible's Shelby serial plate was stamped "ENG in front of the Shelby number. It is not known if the convertible ever received '67 Shelby fiberglass, but by April 1967, it had been converted into a red '68 Shelby G.T. 500 convertible with handbuilt fiberglass body panels, rollbar (a first for an American performance car), and other prototype '68 pieces.

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Stolen! Or Maybe Not

According to a Vehicle Information Report obtained by SAAC, the convertible was assigned as a personal vehicle for Carroll Shelby, who reportedly loaned it out to various people, including employees and visitors from Ford. But just a few days after its conversion into a '68 Shelby, the convertible went missing.

As one version of the story goes, the car was reported stolen from an apartment building parking lot while loaned to a Ford employee. According to a SAAC interview with former Shelby chief engineer Fred Goodell, who had reported the theft to the Los Angeles Police Department, the convertible was found several days later at the top of the Palos Verdes hills. Stripped of its "shiny components, Goodell noted that the thieves were very careful, disconnecting radio wires instead of cutting them and placing the lug nuts back on the studs after making off with the wheels.

If that seems odd, Carroll Shelby implied during a 2003 SAAC interview that something else may have been going on. He laughed about the "stolen car" story, saying that was simply the "public version." He stopped short of an explanation, wrapping up his comments with, "It's better to let a sleeping dog lie."

An invoice from Shelby American to Zurich American Insurance, dated June 20, 1967, confirms that a $506 insurance claim was submitted for "repairs of engineering '68 prototype convertible," including the replacement costs for carburetors, air cleaner assembly, taillight bezel, AM radio, steering wheel, and other components. Additional information implies that some form of compensation was tendered to the person who found the car.

What's the real story? According to Styles, there is speculation that a woman was involved, perhaps a girlfriend who "borrowed" the convertible from either Carroll Shelby or the Ford employee, and the "story" about the car being stolen was likely a cover-up. Styles says, "I suspect there are only three people who may know the truth--a Ford executive, a beautiful lady, and Carroll Shelby. I suspect we'll never know what really happened in April 1967."

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