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 www.shelbyamerican.com.

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.

MUSTANG: 50 YEARS AGO

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.