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Planet Shelby Cobra


Planet Shelby Cobra buys, sells, appraises and inspects 1965 to 1970 Shelby Mustangs, which includes:

1965 G.T.350 and G.T.350 "R" Model

With the 1964 smash hit Mustang, Ford knew they had a winner, but with new competition on the horizon from GM, they knew that the sales might slow when the Camaro and Firebird appeared. For Ford to stay true to its identity of the "Total Performance" company, the Mustang needed some beefing up to be a race winner, too. Wanting its new pony car to have power, flash and race victories, Ford asked Carroll Shelby to turn its pony car into a dominant muscle car.

The Sports Car Club of America's production series was the natural place for the car. In order for a "Shelbyized" version of the Mustang to be eligible for one of the SCCA's production sports car classes, it had to be a two-seater. SCCA also mandated that the car could have upgraded suspension and brakes, or an upgraded engine-but not both.

Carroll Shelby realized that he'd never be able to sell more than a few dozen full-specification race cars, so he would also need to offer a detuned street model. It would be less costly to warranty a street car with race suspension and brakes than it would with a race engine, so all G.T.350s, race and street versions, shared the same upgraded suspension and brakes. A larger front sway bar was used, along with engine compartment strengthening braces. Different Pitman and idler arms improved steering geometry and Koni adjustable shock absorbers were used. In the rear, special traction arms were employed to prevent rear axle wind-up during acceleration. Large disc brakes, 11.3-inches in diameter, were used up front with larger rear drum brakes at the rear, as well 15-inch steel wheels, all taken from the Fairlane station wagon.

The competition version was built without any insulation or sound deadener and the headliner, door panels and dash pad were deleted. The "fireproof" interior used thin aluminum door panels and lightweight fiberglass racing bucket seats with thin naugahyde covers. A four-point roll bar was welded in and a special aluminum dash panel carried a tachometer, speedometer and four smaller gauges. In the trunk, a special 32-gallon gas tank was mounted using a competition snap-open filler cap. A Stewart-Warner electric fuel pump, mounted in the trunk, was used in place of the mechanical pump on the engine. Wheels were magnesium 5-spoke models made by American Racing, 7-inches wide. The front and rear bumpers were removed and up front, a one-piece fiberglass apron replaced the front valence. It had a large opening below the grille allowing air into the oil cooler. To save weight, the standard Mustang rear quarter vents were deleted and replaced by thin pieces of aluminum riveted over the holes. The rear window was clear Plexiglas. The top edge was bent down to create a one-inch space, allowing interior air to be extracted into the car's slipstream. Side windows and mechanisms were removed and replaced with clear Plexiglas that slid up and down inside extruded aluminum frames.

The competition engine was balanced and blueprinted, with ported and polished heads and a competition value job. Lightweight stamped steel valve covers were used, with extended oil filler tubes. An Avaiad steel oil sump was also added, holding 8.5 quarts. An oversized radiator was employed to aid engine cooling and a spun aluminum plenum chamber was used to direct air from the underside of the scoop into the carburetor. It used the same exhaust headers but they were connected to straight exhausts, turned out to exit ahead of the rear wheels.

The street version started with the basic Mustang fastback. The rear seat was deleted and a one-piece fiberglass shelf replaced it. A plastic pod was mounted in the center of the dash pad, carrying a tachometer and an oil pressure gauge. The steering wheel was a wood-rimmed, 3-spoke one used on the Cobra, and was also used in the racing version. The street engine was a standard 289 CID V8 with 271 hp. Shelby added an aluminum intake manifold topped by a Holley 715 CFM four-barrel. Steel tube headers replaced the stock cast iron exhausts with glasspacked mufflers; the exhaust ended just ahead of the rear wheels. The G.T.350 street engine was rated at 306 horsepower. All cars were equipped with an aluminum case Borg Warner 4-speed transmission and Detroit Locker "No-Spin" ratcheting rear end with 3.89 gears. All G.T.350s, street and race, employed a one-piece fiberglass hood with an integral functioning scoop. The stock Mustang latching mechanism was deleted and the hoods were held closed by racing-type click pins. All 1965 cars were white and the now-famous over-the-top twin blue LeMans stripes were an option, usually added by the dealer.

These competition models possess unquestionable historical significance and with the right credentials, are among some of the most sought-after collectible performance cars.

There were 516 Shelby G.T.350 Mustangs, with a MSRP of $4,547, and 36 R-Models, priced at $6,000, built as 1965 models.

1966 G.T.350

In an effort to broaden the G.T.350's appeal, Shelby and Ford decided to offer more options for different types of drivers. Among the new options available were back seats and a quieter exhaust system. The previously standard Detroit Locker rear end, with its odd clunking sounds, also became an option. The 289cid engine stayed the same, but the choice of an automatic transmission was offered.

To differentiate the '66 Shelby from its predecessor and from other muscle cars, Shelby American designers added some cosmetic changes. Functioning air scooped hood and quarter panels with stripes, a new front grille, a dash mounted cobra tachometer, and triangular Plexiglas C-pillar windows, visually separated the G.T.350 from any car on the road. Halfway through the production year, Ford made the Paxton Supercharger an option.

Only four total 1966 convertibles were built, each a different color. 2,374 G.T.350's were produced with the base model price set at $4,428.

1966 G.T.350H

In 1965, Ford asked Shelby to turn its new Mustang into a dominant muscle car. Over the next four years, the Shelby team put Mustang at the pinnacle of the performance world with the Shelby G.T.350 and Shelby G.T.500. The success of America’s pony car led to a special deal between Ford, Shelby and Hertz Rent-a Car for a limited run of Shelby Mustangs in 1966.

Most of those were black with special Hertz gold side stripes and gold LeMans stripes. However, Hertz Shelby's were also offered in four other colors each with gold stripes. With the exception of a few early cars, all had automatic transmissions.

Only 1,000 total Shelby G.T.350-H cars were built.

“Hertz wanted to generate publicity for their new “Hertz Sports Car Club” rental business and our G.T.350-H certainly delivered. Because so many people rented the cars to go drag and road racing on weekends, this program was all but cancelled after only a few years.” – Carroll Shelby.

1967 G.T.350

1967 marked the third generation of the Shelby based on a longer Mustang body. With roof and hood-mounted air scoops, an extended nose and a spoilered tail end, it looked like no other car on the road. A new roofline swept smoothly down the back of the car to the rear of the trunk. Center grille-mounted high beam headlights gave a distinguished muscular look to the front end, while the rear sported wide clean taillights with a pop-open cobra gas cap fitted in-between.

Staying in line with the concept of appealing to a broader segment of the car buying public, '67 Shelby's came with a deluxe interior, power steering, power brakes and optional factory-installed air conditioning. Shelby produced 1,175 G.T.350s with a price tag of $3,995 in 1967.

1967 G.T.500

1967 was the G.T.500 debut and the biggest news for Mustang fanatics was big-block power. Taking full advantage of the much larger engine compartment, Shelby stuffed Ford's 428 CID V8 "Police Interceptor" motor under the hood. Atop the beast sat twin Holley 650cfm carburetors that were actuated by a dual-quad progressive linkage system. Optional Kelsey-Hayes MagStar wheels were a popular option. The engine was rated conservatively at 355hp and 420 ft.-lb. of torque-sufficient to melt the rear tires.

Upgrades such as the more powerful motor, progressive rate springs, shoulder harnesses and a standard roll bar, which was the first for any production car, kept Shelby in a league of its own. Fiberglass body parts cut weight and added style to further distinguish it from standard Mustang fastbacks. The listed options like air conditioning, Kelsey Hayes MagStar wheels or 10-spoke aluminum wheels were available for both the 1967 G.T.350 and G.T.500 cars.

The G.T.500 outsold the G.T.350 by almost two to one, with 2,048 cars produced. The price tag was $4,195.

1968 G.T.350 and 1968 G.T.500

In 1968, Shelby injected excitement into the product line by introducing a convertible. Other design changes included a prominent grille opening, rectangular grille-mounted fog lights and chrome-trimmed taillights that that had sequential turn signals. From the stylish convertible roll bar to the luxurious interior, the '68 Shelby's radiated aggressiveness with a hint of elegance.

The 289 CID engine was replaced with the 302 CID V8 motor topped with an aluminum intake that was factory rated at 250 hp. The G.T.500, stuck with the 428 CID Police Interceptor engine for the first half of production. Exterior design changed mildly from '67; the nose section was reshaped, the hood scoops received a wider slit and moved closer to the nose and two rows of louvers were added near the hood cowl.

1968 resulted in Shelby's highest production total yet, producing 4,451 cars by the end of the year, 1,124 being convertibles. Starting MSRP for G.T.350 convertibles was $4,238, and $4,116 for the hardtop. The G.T.500s were priced at $4,438 for the convertible and $4,317 for the fastback. Only 803 G.T.350 fastbacks were built in 1968.

1968 G.T.500 KR

Big news in the name of power came with the mid-year introduction of the Shelby G.T.500 KR, which stood for "King of the Road", and it defended the throne. It got its name when Carroll Shelby heard Chevrolet was planning to use the same name for one of their big block Chevelles, so he beat them to it.

The KR replaced the regular G.T.500, and the new power plant was a 428 CID Cobra Jet engine. Ford rated the new motor at 335 HP, a bogus number in an effort to lower insurance premiums for buyers and allow the cars into a drag race class they could easily dominate. That worked for about a month! With a 735 CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor, improved low-riser heads, dished pistons, a cast crank shaft, and a performance camshaft, the Cobra Jet churned out nearly 400 HP and 460 ft.-lb. of torque. To handle the added weight and power, the front end was beefed-up with shock towers and the rear with staggered shocks (on 4-speed models).

Only 1053 fastbacks and 518 convertible G.T.500 KR's were produced (new, corrected figures) during the period between the introduction of the Cobra Jet and the end of 1968. The convertible was priced at $4,594. The fastback sold for $4,472.

1969-1970 G.T.350 and G.T.500

The 1969 Shelby Mustangs had what many felt to be the most attractive styling of the '69 -'73 Mustang era. Ford was heavily involved with design and style decisions while Shelby provided input on the performance aspects of the car. The front fenders and hood were fiberglass and the nose was extended, creating a completely different look than the regular Mustang. The new full-width grille opening was accompanied by three aggressive NACA hood scoops and a Shelby-unique front bumper, giving the car a significance of its own.

The rear of the hood had two exit ducts to match the hood scoops and brake-cooling scoops on the rear quarter panels. The trunk was also fiberglass topped with a rear spoiler to match the quarter-panel extensions. Underneath the rear bumper was a cast-aluminum center dual-exhaust outlet. The G.T.350 was now equipped with Ford's new Windsor 351-4V V8 while the G.T.500 featured the 428 Cobra Jet engine. Both Shelby's were available in convertible or hardtop versions and offered in various different vibrant colors.

When Carroll Shelby terminated his agreement with Ford in the summer of 1969, the model year was essentially over. By that time there were still 788 1969 models in the pipeline. Realizing that these cars would be difficult to sell once the 1970 models appeared at the dealership, they were all sent to Kar Kraft in Brighton, Michigan. They were a subcontractor specialty shop for Ford. The cars were given new vehicle identification numbers, chin spoilers and black-painted stripes on the hood.

MSRP for the 1969-70 G.T.350 fastback was $4,434, while convertibles sold for $4,753. The G.T.500s were more expensive and sold for $4,709 and convertibles were $5,027. A total of 2,362 1969 models were built, and 788 1970 models. Total production was 3,150 cars.