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1969 Shelby GT-350 & GT-500


Lacking the ability to make extensive mechanical changes, 1969 Shelbys instead leaned more toward visual differentiation, sporting a distinctive fiberglass front end in addition to the usual taillight modifications.
Lacking the ability to make extensive mechanical changes, 1969 Shelbys instead leaned more toward visual differentiation, sporting a distinctive fiberglass front end in addition to the usual taillight modifications.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The designers of the 1969 Shelby GT-350 and GT-500 made the heavier, longer, busier production car look considerably more rakish. They extended the hood, fitted another fiberglass front end with a large grille cavity, used fiberglass front fenders to reduce weight, clipped off the tail, and added a spoiler and sequential turn signals.

The GT-350 received the new 351 Windsor (Ontario) engine rated at 290 bhp, while the 428 CJ engine continued for the GT-500. A total of 3,150 Shelbys were registered as '69s, and convertible versions were scarce: just 194 GT-350s and 335 GT-500 ragtops.

Fuel injection had been considered for '69, but was never adopted. A moonroof and reclining seats were other ideas that never made it into production. While Carroll Shelby hadn't cared much one way or the other about the convenience options, he did think that injection or supercharging (the latter having been an option since '66) were important developments that should have been considered. Ford thought otherwise -- again.

Who needed it? At the end of 1969, Carroll Shelby called it quits. Production and design had become almost wholly Ford's responsibility anyway, and competition both from within Ford Division and from other makes was terrific. Shelbys weren't being raced much anymore, and the later models weren't his idea of a racing car anyway. Ford Division executive vice president Lee Iacocca agreed to terminate the Shelby program with no penalties or hard words. The association was at an end -- at least for awhile.

Since the Shelby's popularity had declined along with its all-out performance character, some 1969s remained unsold at the end of the year and were reserialed as 1970 models. To differentiate them from the '69s, they were fitted with black hood stripes and Boss 302 front spoilers. Only 315 GT-350s and 286 GT-500s were "built" for 1970, after which the once-heralded Shelby Mustang was quietly and unceremoniously laid to rest.

In retrospect, it was good that Carroll Shelby quit when he did. Considering what happened to cars like the Camaro Z-28 and Boss Mustangs as the 1970s wore on, one can only imagine the hollow shell of a car the Shelby GT would have become. Shelby left with all flags flying, renowned for having built some of the finest performance cars of the '60s.

Go to the next page to get the specifications for the 1969 Shelby GT-350 and GT-500.

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