September 19, 2013

On the Wide Side

When we first learned about Shelby American's wide-body package for '05-current Mustangs, we knew it was only a matter of time before the body-bulking panels made their way onto the GT 500 Super Snake, an 850-horsepower beast that can certainly take advantage of wider tires, especially on the rear. At January's North American International Auto in Detroit, Shelby American pulled the cover off the '13 GT 500 Super Snake Wide Body.

"Carroll Shelby's innovative and aggressive hot-rodder spirit lives on at Shelby American," said Shelby American president John Luft during the introduction of the Wide Body along with another new Shelby product, the Shelby Focus ST. "This year, we're returning to our roots with a pair of game-changing cars that will rewrite the rules for American performance."

For the GT 500 Super Snake Wide Body, Shelby American takes the stock 662-horsepower '13 GT 500 and boosts its performance to a street-legal 850 horsepower while keeping 50-state emissions legal status. Adding the new Wide Body option, available for the rear only or both front and rear, puts the power to the pavement by allowing up to 13-inch rear and 10-inch front wheels for a wider footprint.

Shelby American is now accepting orders for both the Shelby GT 500 Super Snake Wide Body and Focus ST by calling 702/942-7325 or visiting www.shelbyamerican.com.

Mustang: 50 Years Ago

The original two-seat Mustang concept car was first shown to the public in October of 1962 at Watkins Glen, New York. It generated strong interest in a new type of sports car image for America. That winter, the concept was shown at auto shows around the country. On February 12, 1963, a national college tour began with the car displayed for engineering students to generate prospective Ford engineers. By May, the tour was completed and the Mustang was sent to Europe for a year-long display in various countries.

Hal Sperlich was instrumental in the four-seat concept car development from the start. As dedicated Program Manager, he became the driving force behind completion of the entire Mustang project. In the early spring of 1963, the already approved-for-production four-seat Cougar (as the Mustang was then named) project was surrounded in secrecy as its development proceeded toward the first real prototype model. Lee Iacocca knew that before investing millions of Ford's money in a new car, he would have to test public perception for a four-seat sporty car to cement his own personal conviction on the marketability. Iacocca sent out a requirement to produce a drivable concept that could be shown to the public to test opinions. This new concept would closely resemble the true four-seat production design, yet could not reveal too much about the sleek but secret styling.

By April 16, conceptual drawings of the "X-Car" were displayed in the styling department. On May 1, final design plans for production cars were firmly established. Prototype production was underway with a reported 25 chassis to be built. One of those hardtops would be used to create the Mustang II, as the four-seat concept would become known. There was one year left until production of retail Job 1 Mustang.

On April 17, 2013, we mark the 49th anniversary of the production Mustang's public introduction by Ford. —Bob Fria (author of Mustang Genesis, available from Amazon or by contacting the publisher: McFarland and Co., Box 611, Jefferson, NC 336/246-4460).

Boss 302R Takes Grand-Am Opener

Even better than taking the checkered flag, it was good to see a Mustang in victory lane for a race named the BMW Performance 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson drove their Roush-prepared Boss 302R to a second consecutive GS class win in the season-opening Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Roush Jr. was especially pleased to earn the race win in front of his father, Jack Roush Sr., whose Ford won 10 straight 24 Hours of Daytona races during the 1990s. "It's a big deal given what he's accomplished here," Roush Jr. said after the win.

Rare Finds Follow-Up

In his January 2013 Rare Finds column, Jerry Heasley documented the discovery of a 47,000-mile '69 Shelby G.T. 500, an original 428 Super Cobra Jet car that was tucked away by its original owner, John Peterson, in the mid-1970s. Northwest Mustangs' Bret Mattheson bought the Shelby from Peterson in 2008, then sold it to Mike Pfeifer, who recently completed a three-year restoration in his home garage.

"It's hard to describe the excitement of taking a '69 Shelby G.T. 500 Super Cobra Jet for its first drive after 36 years of sitting," said Pfeifer, who is technically the car's second owner.

Pfeifer says a Shelby, any Shelby, was on his bucket list, but the SCJ G.T. 500 is more than he ever expected to find. Grabber Blue with a four-speed and 3.91 gears from the factory, the car is one of only 170 produced with the Drag Pack option.

Pfeifer says the restoration was a labor of love. "You know when your wife calls your car ‘your mistress,' you have spent too much time in the garage," Pfeifer adds. "When restoring a car in your own small garage by yourself, you have to use everything at your disposal, including the dishwasher, kitchen sink, and dining room table."

Original owner John Peterson with his SCJ Shelby in 1973, complete with side pipes and Firestone’s Parnelli Jones white-letter tires.