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1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500KR - The Way It Was
Originality goes a long way, just ask Floyd Huxford about his '68 G.T 500KR
It's of little surprise that years after production many a musclecar has been fitted with optional equipment that didn't come on the car when built. Truth is, many original buyers were stretched pretty thin even with a base level machine, so a multitude of '60s road warriors ended up being sparsely equipped. Of course, '68 Shelbys were a bit of a different animal with a list of standard equipment that was deluxe by any definition. Floyd Huxford's G.T. 500KR convertible is a prime example of the breed, but there remains one upgrade temptation that he and virtually every '68 Shelby owner considers at one time or another--the wheels.
The majority of '68 Shelbys were delivered with hubcaps on steel 15-inch wheels, and yet a trip to most Mustang shows will find a high percentage wearing optional cast-aluminum 10-spokes. It's little surprise considering the 10-spoke is one of the best-looking wheels of the era, and still available today. But what you may not know is how few Shelbys actually came from the factory with the fancy 15x7-inch castings.
According to '68 Shelby experts Vinny Liska (www.saac.com) and Pete Disher (www.thecoralsnake.com), just three cars are documented to have rolled out of A.O. Smith with 10-spokes, a shockingly small number considering the 4,450 that were built. Numbers aside, the point is clear--most '68 Shelbys have come by their 10-spokes later in life--a few perhaps at original dealerships and the rest at some other point in the four-plus decades since manufacture.
Not surprisingly, Floyd's '68 is one of the roughly 4,447 that came hubcap equipped, and even more surprisingly, it was still wearing the originals when he purchased the car from a California owner in the late '80s. That the caps were present and accounted for was indicative of the originality and care his KR convertible had seen over the years, as hundreds of the mag-style units were undoubtedly trashed within days of purchase. Floyd himself fell under the 10-spoke spell soon after buying his '68, but at least he stored the stockers for possible future use.
You'd hope that 20 years of owning a storied muscle Mustang would result in some memorable experiences, and such is the case here. Yet rather than some big show award or street racing escapade, Floyd related his favorite personal story that involved the car's presence at his wedding in 1995. While plenty of newlyweds enjoy departing their big event in a limo, Floyd and his wife Anne enjoyed extensive wedding photographs and a getaway in this classic big-block droptop. Several years later, the '68 was treated to a bright red repaint, which when combined with the 10-spokes, made for a visually stunning, if not classic stereotypical combination.
In 2008, Floyd called Dan Green Restorations (www.dangreenrestorations.com) in Sandy, Utah, for a resto effort that would take the car to MCA Concours Trailered standards. The decision to return the car to "the way it was" turned out to be easy, so once Green and crew went through the stripping, media-blasting, and body-prep stages, the single-stage DuPont ChromaOne acrylic urethane was applied in original Wimbledon White. Likewise, Green spent countless hours restoring those four original hubcaps, which really set the car apart at most shows.
Much less visible, yet no less important to the day one cause, is the date correct C8OF-9510-AB Holley carburetor, which Green hunted for months, as well as restored original suspension pieces. As is typical, the front end was found to be full of aftermarket service components, so Green located used original upper and lower control arms, tie rods, idler arm, etc., and properly rebuilt/refinished them.
Fortunately, Floyd had been anticipating a full restoration almost from the day he purchased the '68, and thus had been collecting various NOS trim components for years. Reproduction items are few and far between--just a smattering of emblems, stripes, carpet, upholstery, and a full exhaust system from Scott Fuller. Green and company plied their skills on virtually every facet of the project, save for rebuilds of the original 428CJ, C6 trans, and the convertible top.
We stumbled upon Floyd's gorgeous KR at the 2010 MCA Grand National in Bellevue, Washington, and it was surely those hubcaps that grabbed our attention in a sea of top-level restorations. Not surprisingly, Floyd is enjoying the car's like-new persona, as it represents the culmination of a long-held dream of owning a pristine Shelby.
He related that he and his younger brother, Perry, were bitten by the Shelby bug during their teen years, but were obviously unable to afford their ultimate Mustang at the time. Sadly, Perry passed away several years later in a car accident, so Floyd has some extra sentimental reasons for finally securing one of the best of the best. No doubt he's achieved that in large part thanks to Anne's support and Green's skilled restoration work, to which we offer our kudos all around.