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Lot 232

1968 Shelby Mustang GT500-KR Convertible

  • Chassis no. 8T03R21012003499

Sold for $264,000

A rare Acapulco Blue example with factory air conditioning

360 bhp, 428 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 108 in.

When Ford decided to make a serious performance Mustang, they went to Carroll Shelby, whose Ford-engined Cobras were setting the world on fire. They sent Shelby a white 1965 Fastback without rear seats or hood. He worked his magic with the 289 engine, coaxing it to 306 horsepower, and put on a fiberglass hood with a functional scoop. A blue stripe was applied to the lower side, with a bold “GT350” aft of the front wheel opening. All external Mustang emblems were removed. Koni shocks were fitted, along with override traction bars at the rear. A larger front stabilizer bar completed the package. Interiors were all black, with a three-spoke wood steering wheel and competition seat belts. The open area for the rear seats was utilized to mount the spare tire. All cars had the Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed transmission. Just 562 were built for 1965, 522 “S” (for street) models, 36 “R” (racing) cars, and four for drag racing.

A more ambitious program began in 1966. GT350s became available in red, green, blue, and black, all with white stripes and the GT350 logo. During the year, hoods were changed to steel because the fiberglass was proving troublesome. The grille emblem became smaller, and a new GT350 gas cap was adopted. The Koni shocks became optional to Ford heavy duty units, and many of the Shelby suspension components gave way to standard Ford items. The production of 1966 Shelby Mustangs totaled 2,378 cars, including 1,367 standard fastbacks, four drag racing cars, and four convertibles. In addition, a few were supercharged and 1,000 were supplied to Hertz as performance rental cars. These were the first rent-a-racers, with most driven hard and some apparently even raced. As a result, Hertz began to order these GT350-Hs with automatic transmissions.

The year 1967 brought a mildly re-contoured Mustang body. Shelby took out the grille and put a pair of high beam lights in the cavity. Taillights were replaced by rectangular units, and the air scoops were punched into the side coves, ahead of the rear wheels.

But the big news was the GT500, with the 428-cubic inch engine used in that year’s Shelby Cobra. With 10.5 to 1 compression and a Holley four-barrel, it made 355 brake horsepower. A four-speed manual was standard, but the C6 automatic could be ordered. It proved more popular than the GT350, with 2,050 built. No convertibles were built by Shelby that year, either as GT350s or GT500s.

For 1968, Shelby had even more power on tap. The new GT500-KR (for “King of the Road”) had a modified 428, now making a reported 400 horsepower. Called the “Cobra Jet,” the engine had been concocted at Tasca Ford in East Providence, Rhode Island, then a leading dealer in performance cars and a keen competitor in the 1960s drag racing scene. This became so intense that owner Bob Tasca formed a high-performance division within his dealership, selling some 60 hi-po cars a month and working with Ford engineers and factory tuner Holman-Moody on modifications for his own team cars and cars for sale to the public. Fruits of these efforts included the “Thunderbolt” lightweight Fairlane drag cars and the “Mystery Mustang,” a SOHC short-wheelbase match race car.

The Cobra Jet came out of Tasca’s disappointment with the 390-powered Mustang introduced for 1967. One of his mechanics over-revved one while “street testing” a car, so Performance Manager Dean Gregson had a 428 Police Interceptor short block reworked with better heads and freer breathing. It went like lightning, but Ford brass was reluctant to give it the blue oval approval. Tasca’s influence, plus a push by readers of Hot Rod magazine’s technical editor, Eric Dahlquist, resulted in the Cobra Jet’s launch in April 1968.

As for the GT500-KR name, Shelby had caught wind of the fact that Chevrolet planned a 396 Camaro called “King of the Road” and promptly snatched the title for his Mustang instead, stealing the march on GM’s entrenched bureaucracy. Interestingly, the 427 engine could be had as an option. Other options on the GT500-KR included power steering, power disc brakes, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, and an AM radio. The GT500 returned in 1969, but no GT500-KRs were built after 1968. Production totaled 933 coupes and 518 convertibles.

This Shelby GT500-KR convertible is among the rarest of the rare. One of the 518 GT500-KR convertibles, it is gorgeous in its original shade of Acapulco Blue, of which, we are told, just 51 were built. It is equipped with an AM radio, tilt-away steering wheel, console with gauges, starter delay, and smog equipment. Additionally, it is one of four such cars reportedly built with air conditioning.

Its condition is exceptional, with all body contours correct and excellent paint and chrome. The black vinyl interior is as-new, and the floor has GT500-logo black rubber throw mats. The instrument panel boasts a 140-mph speedometer, with the odometer showing 53,729 miles, and an 8,000 rpm tachometer. Underneath, the car is clean and corrosion-free and is exceptionally detailed with proper red oxide and factory overspray. The correct 10-spoke Shelby aluminum wheels are mounted with Goodyear Polyglas F70-15 tires.

The rarity of this car cannot be understated. As one of four with its specification to include air conditioning, it is reportedly the only one delivered in the southern United States. Restored to the highest standards in the most desirable color combinations, it represents an opportunity not soon to be repeated.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

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Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more