There's no denying the fact that the S197 Mustang has been a huge sales success. From the V-6 automatic convertibles lining the rental car parking lots to modified GT coupes running down the 1,320 looking for that last bit of power, '05-'08 Mustangs are everywhere.
The popularity of this latest generation is one reason we see so many specialty Mustangs as well. We're not just talking about the Steeda, Saleen, and Roush vesions, but limited-run-even one-off-built-to-order specials from speed shops across North America.
Of course, the Ford top brass aren't likely to miss out on a potential sale, either, and as a result, the company has given us its own string of successful specialty models such as the V-6 Pony Package, the GT/CS and, most recently, the Bullitt. But nowhere has a Mustang specialty model been more enthusiastically revered than with Ford's reborn relationship with the legendary Carroll Shelby and his Las Vegas-based Shelby Automobiles Inc.
The reuniting of Shelby and Ford first came to light with the '06 Shelby GT-H Mustang, which was only available for rent through select Hertz rental-car facilities that featured the Hertz Fun Collection. The introduction of this car was no coincidence-model year '06 marked the 40th Anniversary of the original '66 Hertz GT350-H "rent-a-racer."
Slowly, the 500 '06 Shelby GT-H Mustangs found their way into private hands once their rental obligations were up. The relationship continued into 2007 with the release of the GT-H convertible (again available only for rent at Hertz), Shelby GT500 Mustang, and Shelby GT coupe. Ford built nearly 11,000 GT500s and less than 6,000 of the Shelby GT coupe.
While all of these cars have proven to be hugely popular, no matter what the window sticker says, there's no doubt the name Shelby has helped to sell them as much as the styling and performance.
One popular selling point for the Shelby GT has been that the cars are finish-assembled at Shelby Automobiles and are listed in the Shelby registry, just like a classic Shelby or Cobra.
Once again for '08, the Ford and Shelby relationship has grown with the continuation of the GT500, the Shelby GT in coupe and convertible, and now the limited-production GT500KR.
The KR is Shelby and Ford's latest creation, with development by SVT and performance enhancements courtesy of Ford Racing Performance Parts, with final assembly by Shelby Automobiles. It's no coincidence that the KR is an '08 model, allowing Ford and Shelby to tout another 40th Anniversary-this one celebrating the original '68 GT500KR, also shown to the public for the first time at the same New York Auto Show as the '08, 40 years before. Ford and Shelby have pushed the '68/'08 synergies to the max with the new GT500KR production figures of 1,570 units, matching the original '68 sales numbers, using the same stripe lettering font, and more.
We were lucky enough to be part of the KR's media launch event at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, home to the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School. Not only did we get ample seat time in Ford's latest Mustang, but Team Mustang, Ford Racing, and the SVT folks were all on-site to stress their "Steed for Every Need" mentality by allowing us to sample a plethora of examples from the Mustang lineup. Everything from a base V-6 to the new Bullitt and "regular" GT500 were available for evaluation.
Like A Million Bucks
No, it won't take that much money to call a GT500KR your own (we'll get to that later). We're talking about the looks of the KR itself. If there's one thing to be said about the current Mustang's styling, it's that it has a powerful presence. With the KR, the people at both SVT and Shelby Autos have taken that concept further and improved upon it.