January 11, 2014

GT 350 Production to End

As promised, Shelby American’s GT 350 will go into the books as a limited time, limited production vehicle. The company has announced that this year will be the last for the iconically named post-title Mustang that has been built at Shelby American’s Las Vegas headquarters since 2010.

“When we unveiled this latest version of the Shelby GT 350, we promised it would be built for a limited time to preserve its collectability and value,” said Shelby American president John Luft. “So we’ve been preparing for this day since 2010.”

The original G.T. 350s were built at Shelby American’s Los Angeles facility for three years, ’65-’67, before production moved to A.O. Smith in Michigan. It is rumored that the next GT 350 will come from Ford as a special ’15 or ’16 model based on the all-new S550 chassis.

Orders for new GT 350s, built on ’12-’14 Mustang GTs, will continue through December 31, 2013, by calling 702/942-7325 or visiting www.shelbyamerican.com. With the end of GT 350 production and next year’s rumored demise of SVT’s Shelby GT 500, on which the Super Snake post-title build is based, Shelby American is said to be searching for a new model to fill the gap. Can you say “Return of the Shelby GT?”

Getaway Super Snake

When After Dark Films needed to cast a high-performance car for their action thriller Getaway, they tapped the Shelby GT 500 Super Snake built by Shelby American. The movie, which opened on Labor Day weekend, also stars Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez.

Two Shelby GT 500 Super Snakes were used to make the film. One was driven in scenes filmed on location in Bulgaria while another was tapped for audio recording in Los Angeles. The film’s director and producer, Courtney Solomon, made the decision to use a Shelby.

“Since Getaway takes place in a foreign country, I felt strongly that we needed the quintessential American muscle car with enough star power to shine with Ethan and Selena,” said Solomon. “With 725 horsepower, amazing capabilities, and great looks, the Shelby GT 500 Super Snake was ideal for this role.”

The film is a heart-pounding thriller in which former race car driver Brent Magna (Hawke) is pitted against the clock. Desperately trying to save the life of his kidnapped wife, Brent commandeers a Shelby GT 500 Super Snake, taking it and its unwitting owner (Gomez) on a high-speed race against time at the command of the mysterious villain holding his wife hostage.

Mustang: 50 Years

Mustang Monthly editor Donald Farr’s latest book, Mustang: 50 Years, arrived at book stores in October. Published by Motorbooks and officially licensed by Ford Motor Company, the 256-page hardbound book chronicles the 50-year history of the Mustang, from its conception in the early 1960s to the latest ’14 model. Chapters cover all of the Mustang generations—’65-’73, Mustang II, Fox-body, Fox-4, and the current S197, along with Mustang racing history, concepts and prototypes, community activity (clubs, collectors, etc.), and Mustangs in popular culture. To illustrate the book, Farr uses period-correct images from the Ford Archives and from the vast collection of photos in the Petersen Publishing archives, now maintained by Mustang Monthly’s parent company, Source Interlink Media.

Retail price for Mustang: 50 Years is $50, available from www.motorbooks.com or Amazon. Autographed copies are available from the author at www.donaldfarr.net.

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 www.mustang50thbirthdaycelebration.com, including registration and hotel information. Event schedules will be posted there as well when they become available.

Update: Drag racing at the zMax Dragway has been added to the event schedule at Charlotte.

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 www.ponydrive.us 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 www.mustangsacrossamerica.com 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 www.ponydrive.us 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.

Mustang: 50 Years Ago

By November 1963, Ford’s new four-seat sporty car had progressed into one of the final pre-production stages. Real metal chassis were initially hand assembled at a specialized plant in Allen Park, Michigan, a suburb of Dearborn. Known as the Allen Park Pilot Plant, it was here that the first attempts to assemble production-style were begun.

Decisions had been made as to which production Falcon body parts would be used on the new car so design and manufacture of unique parts could be limited. During this time, the new car was referred to as the T-5 and the Special Falcon. The final name Mustang had yet to be chosen.

During the fall of 1963, a group of 52 couples, identified as possible buyers for this type of new car, were assembled at the Design Center showroom and were shown the car. When asked what they thought the price of the car would be, most overestimated by $1,000 or more and indicated a real interest in owning one. The Ford marketers best dreams were realized—people were overestimating the price of the car, and marketing and Iacocca knew they would have a winner on their hands as the new Ford could sell for less than the public estimated.

Major production tooling was available in October and stamping plants were producing some of the new body stampings for pilot cars. As minor stamping problems were worked out during pilot car production, much of this tooling would be modified as required. None of these early stampings have been found on pre-production cars, indicating early stampings were used only on early pilot cars.

Work was disrupted suddenly on November 22 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Approaching December 7, 60 days from the “Start Pre-Production” date, the Pilot Functional Program began. Final production sheet metal stampings were used to assemble the final in-process pilot cars at Allen Park. These cars were used as advanced Pilot Plant test vehicles. Training for production line managers was begun on how to assemble the new cars on the assembly line. Parts production was shifted into high gear, and vendor and stamping plant parts were shipped to the Rouge Assembly Plant in Dearborn. Filming of TV commercials began in late November in Arizona using Pilot Plant assembled cars and Arizona State University students. The publicity machine was coming to life while fine tuning was done to new introduction date advertising emblazoned with signature running horses in Arizona. – Bob Fria (author of Mustang Genesis, available from Amazon or by contacting the publisher: McFarland and Co., Box 611, Jefferson, NC 336/246-4460).

News Desk

Motorbooks is hitting the road with an automotive bookmobile to allow car enthusiasts to shop for their favorite books—including many Mustang titles—at car shows around the Midwest and East coast. The Motorbookmobile will be at a number of shows through November, including Fall Carlisle and the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals in October.

In support of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles program, Ford’s unique ’14 Mustang GT U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Edition (see Pony Tales in the October issue) sold for $398,000 at auction. It was purchased by James Slattery of San Diego with proceeds helping provide free introductory flights to young people.

A well-preserved ’66 Mustang GT hardtop with a special black leather interior has surfaced in Italy. It possibly has a connection to Henry Ford II. Watch for more information in Mustang Monthly.

Ford Motor Company Corporate Historian Robert C. Kreipke has written a new book commemorating 150 years since the birth of Henry Ford. Officially licensed by Ford, Faces of Henry Ford presents an intimate look into the life of the man who founded Ford Motor Company. It’s available from M.T. Publishing at 888/263-4702 or www.mtpublishing.com.

William Strickler from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, took home two Shelby Mustangs, a ’68 G.T. 500 and a matching ’13 GT 500, along with $50,000 in cash to help pay the taxes, as the grand-prize winner of 2013 Mustang Dream Giveaway (see “Dream Shelbys” in the March 2013 Mustang Monthly).

Although the Mustang’s 50th anniversary will be officially celebrated in April with simultaneous events in Charlotte and Las Vegas, we’re hearing that Ford will also recognize the occasion next August in Dearborn with activities before and during the Mustang Memories show at Ford World Headquarters.

At Barrett-Jackson’s inaugural Hot August Nights Auction in Reno, Nevada, the last retail ’14 Shelby GT 500 convertible fetched $500,000 to benefit the Brain Injury Association of America. The car was donated by Ford Motor Company.

Historic Tran-Am Registry founder David Toms has authored a new book about the historic racing series. Titled The Cars of Trans-Am Racing, the hardbound book focuses on the 1966 to 1972 seasons and the pony cars that competed, including Mustangs, of course. The book is available for $39.95 plus $6.95 shipping from CarTech (800/551-4754, www.cartechbooks.com). During the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion last August, Saleen Automotive introduced a new ’14 George Follmer Edition Mustang as part of its Saleen Heritage Collection. The red, black, and white Mustang gets its styling from Follmer’s ’69 Trans-Am Boss 302. Watch for more in a future Mustang Monthly, or visit www.saleen.com.

Chevy’s Mustang Flyer

During the Mid America Ford and Shelby Nationals last summer, swap meet vendor Ron Starnes tracked us down to show us his latest find—an original 1964 flyer that was used to alert Chevrolet salesmen about the upcoming ’65 Mustang. Discovered among the items saved by a former Chevy dealer, the single-page flyer provides details about a meeting and a “Here’s the Mustang” film. In part, it says, “In order for your salesmen to sell effectively against the Mustang, it is vital that they know what the car offers, what its strong points and weak points are.”

The flyer also mentions that Ford’s announced goal for Mustang sales was 250,000 units, a number that was quickly shattered as over 600,000 were sold in the first 12 months. Chevrolet soon realized that its Corvair could not compete and accelerated work on what would become the ’67 Camaro.