December 16, 2013

Shelby American on the Move

Shelby American is killing two birds with one stone with its recently announced move from North Las Vegas to the southern end of the famous Las Vegas Strip. Strategically, the new 135,000 square-foot facility will house all operations under one roof, ending the need for employees to stroll across vast expanses of parking lot to visit other departments, which are currently housed in five buildings in the Las Vegas Speedway industrial complex on Speedway Blvd. As a bonus, when the new location opens on December 1 at 6405 Ensworth St., Shelby American will be located near McCarran airport and just one block off Las Vegas Blvd. in the heart of the Vegas leisure and convention area, making it easier for enthusiasts to visit the facility for museum tours.

"Shelby American is gearing up for global expansion," president John Luft said in a press release, noting that the company is moving into the European and emerging Asian markets. "Our new facility allows us to be more nimble and accessible to our customers, while dramatically improving production and operational efficiency."

Shelby American has been in its current Speedway Blvd. location since 1998, starting as a production facility for continuation series Cobras and the Shelby Series One sports car before expanding into Mustang production with the GT-H in 2006. Currently, the facility builds the Shelby GT 500 Super Snake, GT 350, GTS, Shelby 1000, Focus, and Raptor, while also serving as headquarters for the Shelby Speed Shop and Shelby Performance Parts.

Shelby American is planning a grand opening event for the new global headquarters later this year. Details will be announced at

Rebuilding Generations

Fans of the '71-'73 Mustang have something to get excited about with the in-process "Rebuilding Generations" '71 Mustang convertible restomod that will be unveiled at November's SEMA Show. Conceived by Kevin Keep at My Deals LLC, the car is being built by a number of youth, along with their fathers and other men in the community, on Wednesday nights and weekends for teamwork, lessons, and inspiration. Says Keep, "Our goal is to have the men teach and educate the youth on how to restore and rebuild a vehicle while working together and learning to handle the challenges and rewards of completing an inspirational project with a world-class outcome." Watch for tech articles from this project in Mustang Monthly, along with a feature when it is completed.


The summer of 1963 was a busy hands-on start for the new, yet-to-be-named Mustang. Chassis prototyping had been completed and many first generation parts were beginning to arrive at the Allen Park Pilot Plant for use on the first run of pilot cars.

Lee Iacocca needed a special prototype built that would closely resemble the planned production car already in progress. Public display would confirm that his marketing strategy for a new four-seat sporty car from Ford was on target. The project began life on paper in April 1963. The '64 Falcon Sprint chassis used for dimensional specifications was replaced by an early prototype '65 Mustang coupe with its top removed. The four-seat '63 Mustang II, first called the X-Car, then the Cougar Torino, then Torino while also known as the Falcon II, was returned to Ford from independent contractor Dearborn Steel Tubing Company by mid-September as a completed prototype. The car had a removable top and was powered by a 289 High Performance engine with a four-speed manual transmission. Unlike many prototypes, it was fully drivable.

The Mustang II, painted in white with blue stripes to be remindful of the two-seat Mustang I it replaced, was revealed to the press the first week of October and within days was transported to the Watkins Glen Raceway in New York for display at the October 6 Grand Prix, where the Mustang I had been revealed the year prior. Little did those who saw the Mustang II know that what they were seeing was actually the new production Mustang with styling cues to camouflage the production shape. Iacocca drove the car around the track with race driver Graham Hill. The Mustang II was overwhelmingly approved by the crowd. It also appeared the next day on CBS television and was pictured in newspapers and magazines around the world.

This concept car, today the only known existing remnant of a real Mustang prototype, proved its appeal to the public, and Iacocca knew he was on track to build and market the new Mustang, although the real production '65 Mustang was well into its pilot car build program even before the Mustang II was shown to the public. Its name, "Mustang," was only a concept and was retired from Ford concept car use, never to be used again. The Mustang name we know today was chosen in a different manner, not related to this concept car.

The one-of-a-kind Mustang II today is owned by the Detroit Historical Museum.

Detailed history of the first Mustangs will be part of the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration on April 17, 2014, to be held in Las Vegas and Charlotte. – Bob Fria (author of Mustang Genesis, available from Amazon or by contacting the publisher: McFarland and Co., Box 611, Jefferson, NC 336/246-4460).

Thunderbird Mustang

To support the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program, Ford has created and donated a one-of-a-kind '14 Mustang GT U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Edition. Complete with design and styling cues taken from the F-16 Falcon flown by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the Mustang was scheduled to be sold at auction last summer during the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, with all proceeds helping provide free introductory flights to young people to inspire the next generation of aviators. The unique U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Mustang GT, equipped with a Ford Racing supercharger and other upgrades, commemorates the 60th anniversary of the USAF Thunderbirds.

Mustang Skeletons

You rarely find crowds surrounding a display space in the Carlisle swap meet area. But while cruising Row J during the Ford Nationals last June, we stumbled across a large gathering at the Thoroughbred International display, where show-goers mobbed the area to get their first glimpse of Thoroughbred's new '65-'66 Mustang fastback "skeleton" along with a complete body that was assembled by Wild Horse Specialties.

According to Thoroughbred's Nate Miller, the units are available as a full "restoration component" skeleton or as a "Clipster" from the firewall back. As the owner of Buckeye Restorations in Ohio, Miller says he and his team have been disappointed with body panel fit from other reproduction body shells, with Miller saying that he quickly realized that the only way to make replacement parts to his standards was to follow the same formula as the originals: quality American engineering. To build the fixtures, Thoroughbred worked with a local machine shop, Cardinal Precision Machining, which assembles the skeletons to exact specifications.

Miller notes that original cars rust in several common areas, many of which are structural, meaning difficult and time-consuming repairs. "Beginning with a rust-free replacement makes restoration or personalization more of a pleasure than a chore," Miller says.

"For restorations, we have spent far more than the cost of a new skeleton and saved only the dash and roof of the original car," said Brian Ciriello, Thoroughbred parts manager. "This skeleton will line up perfectly."

Through a partnership with Wild Horse Specialties, the skeletons are also available with all welding completed and roof, doors, and trunk panels installed. From there, everything is bolt-on for home enthusiasts and restoration shops.

The Clipster begins at $8,500; skeletons start at $9,500. All are finished in red-primer, just like the originals.

Info: 330/533-0048;

Good Times a Knott's

The West's annual blue oval pilgrimage to Buena Park, California, every spring has become tradition—if you aren't there, then you're square. This year, Knott's Berry Farm's 28th annual Fabulous Fords Forever event witnessed just shy of 2,100 vehicles. Of course, the biggest hero at every Fabulous Fords Forever is Mustang. In the 1980s, '65-'73 Mustangs dominated Knott's, but no more. Today, Fox-body, SN-95, and S197 late-models darken real estate with raw power.

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Knott's was a grand-slam this year because it also acknowledged 110 years of Ford greatness with every type of Ford product imaginable, everything from the Model T to the latest Shelby GT 500. Though Mustang stole the show, the new Focus, Fusion, F-Series truck, Taurus, and the all-new C-Max were showcased for the 20,000 who attended.

Fabulous Fords Forever is a collective effort between Ford and the Ford Car Club Council in Southern California with over 200 volunteers who make it happen. It is easily one of the largest one-day car shows in the nation with vehicles from 13 states, Canada, and Mexico. According to Glenn Eldridge of the Ford Car Club Council, 1,100 Mustangs turned out along with 154 Broncos and 85 Thunderbirds, just to name a few. What's more, this year was the 85th anniversary of the Ford Model A as well as 45 years of Torino and 20 years of SVT.

There were also celebrities—Ford Formula Drift champion Vaughn Gittin, Jr.; the legendary Linda Vaughn, Miss Hurst; car builder Steve Saleen; and legendary drag racers Ed Terry, Butch Leal, Larry Knapp, and John Calvert. As you might imagine, the great Ford names were on hand—Ford Racing, Shelby, Roush, RTR, Saleen, and a host of others. Toward the end of the day, Henry Ford III sat before the microphone for an interview with nationally broadcasted Horsepower For One Hour. Edsel Ford II's son proved to be down to earth as he rubbed elbows with the Knott's crowd.

If you'd like to put Knott's on your schedule for next year, go to or contact Jon Schultz at 675/333-2229, —Jim Smart

Countdown to the 50th

On April 16-20, 2014, the Mustang will celebrate its 50th anniversary with two simultaneous 50th Mustang Birthday Celebration events hosted by the Mustang Club of America and sponsored by Ford Motor Company. The east coast event will be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, while west coasters will have their own show at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Related activities start two weeks earlier with Great American Pony Drives from seven locations cruising to Mustang, Oklahoma, for an official kick-off weekend followed by east-bound and west-bound Pony Drives to the Mustang 50th Birthday events.

Over the coming months in this space, we'll keep readers abreast of the 50th anniversary happenings, adding updates as they become available. The official website is now up and running at, including registration and hotel information. Event schedules will be posted there as well when they become available.

April 4-11, 2014
Great American Pony Drives
Dearborn: Departs April 8
Jacksonville: Departs April 4
Richmond: Departs April 7
Boston: Departs April 6
Los Angeles: Departs April 4 Sacramento: Departs April 5
Seattle: Departs April 6
Visit for complete schedules, routes, and activities.

April 10-16, 2014
Mustangs Across America 50th Drive
Departs April 10 from Los Angeles for a week-long cruise to Charlotte. Visit for route and schedule.

April 11-13, 2014
Official 50th Anniversary Kick-Off Party hosted by the Mustang Club of America in Mustang, Oklahoma. Shows, special speakers, and shuttles to shopping. More details to come.

April 13-16, 2014
50th Anniversary Pony Drives from Mustang, Oklahoma, to Charlotte and Las Vegas. Visit for schedules and stops.

April 16-20
Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration events at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Shows, open tracks, special activities and displays, manufacturer midways.
April 16: Pony Drive arrivals, vendor set-up
April 17: Opening Ceremonies, birthday party, other activities TBA
April 18: Open track, parade laps, themed dinner, other activities TBA
April 19: Evening banquet, other activities TBA
April 20: Easter Sunrise Services, closing ceremonies

News Desk

Automotive author Colin Comer is working on his next book, Shelby Mustang: 50 Years, due out in 2014 in time for the '65 Shelby G.T. 350's 50th anniversary.

Former Shelby American designer John Chun, 84, passed away on July 6. Chun produced the concept sketches for the '67 Shelby Mustang before moving to A.O. Smith to work on the '68 Shelbys. He also designed the revised coiled-cobra logo, variations of which are still used by Ford today.

Edgar "Alex" Alexander, one of the '64½ Original Owner Group that Kathy Miller put together for the Mustang 45th Anniversary Celebration, passed away on July 9. Alexander purchased a brand-new '64½ Mustang convertible and still owned it nearly 50 years later. He was featured in our "They Started It All" story in the September 2009 Mustang Monthly.

The Weiand X-CELerator single-plane intake for two-barrel 351 Cleveland engines has been re-tooled. A revised runner design smoothes airflow while giving the intake an even better appearance. Visit for more information.

Shelby American has confirmed that orders for the Shelby GT 350 will no longer be accepted after December 31, 2013. "This decision was made to preserve the Shelby American-built GT 350's collectability and value," said president John Luft in a press release.

As rumored in our August issue, it has been confirmed that Hertz will once again offer a black and gold performance Mustang at its rental car counters. Part of the Hertz Adrenaline Collection, the Hertz Penske GT is upgraded (by Roush Performance, we hear) with quad-tip exhaust, cold-air intake, 3.55 gears, big Brembo brakes, ECU tune, Boss 302 front splitter, GT 500 rear valance, and Hertz yellow stripes.

Aspiring artist Mackenzie Elliott's video for her new recording, Lipstick Summer, stars a red '65 Mustang convertible owned by Music City Mustang Club member Kenneth Joyner. Check it out by searching for Mackenzie Elliott on YouTube.