Production Mustangs for 1967 were larger, heavier, and more "styled," which meant that Shelby maker Carroll Shelby's ne plus ultra Mustang, the GT-350, would have to change. To keep the weight of the 1967-1968 Shelby GT-350 and GT-500 down and its appearance distinctive, Shelby designers created a custom fiberglass front end to complement the production Mustang's longer bonnet.
They also put two high-beam headlamps in the center of the grille opening. (Some later cars have these lamps moved to the outer ends of the grille to comply with state motor vehicle requirements specifying a minimum distance between headlamps.) The 1967 Shelbys had a larger hood scoop and sculptured brake cooling scoops on the sides. Another set of scoops on the rear-quarter roof panels acted as interior air extractors. The rear end received a spoiler and a large bank of taillamps.
As a total design, the 1967 Shelby was stunning. It looked more like a racing car than many all-out racers; there was still nothing like it on American roads.
Certain changes also reflected customer feedback indicating a preference for a more manageable, easier-to-drive car. Power steering and power brakes, for example, became mandatory options. The '67 interior received special appointments not shared with the production Mustang, including a distinctive racing steering wheel, additional gauges, a genuine rollbar, and inertia-reel shoulder harnesses.
In 1967, Ford offered a 390 cid V-8 for its standard Mustang as its top performance engine. In typical Shelby style, Carroll went Ford one better, with a 428 cubic-incher and a new model, the GT-500. It was a popular move, for GT-500s outsold GT-350s by nearly 2-to-l. The GT-350 still carried the Mustang's stock high-performance small-block, but without the previous steel tube exhaust headers.
What Shelby had created by 1967 was a combination of performance and luxury, rather than a car that emphasized performance above everything else. Since carmakers adopted more conservative horsepower ratings in 1967 -- mainly to keep the insurance companies at bay -- the GT-500 was only rated at 355 bhp, although it certainly developed more than that. The GT-350 was rated as before at 306 bhp, which is odd, because without the special headers and straight-through mufflers, its output was likely somewhat lower, probably closer to that of Ford's own 271-bhp high-performance 289.
Still optional for the 289 was a $549 Paxton supercharger, which probably increased horsepower to around 400, though no official rating was ever published. A few GT-500s were special-ordered with a 427 V-8 of 400 bhp. Despite the added muscle, no attempt was made by the factory to race the 1967 models. Altogether, 3,225 were built.
For details on the 1968 Shelby GT lineup, click on the next page.
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By 1968, Carroll Shelby, maker of the 1967-1968 Shelby GT-350 and GT-500, was beginning to tire of the business he'd created. He had won the Manufacturers Championship and had overseen the Ford GT effort, culminating with wins at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967. He had also seen many close friends lose their lives on the race track. Meanwhile, competition had grown and new racing technology made it impossible for most specialists to grasp the many new principles and apply them successfully. Racing, Shelby said, wasn't fun anymore. It was business, and building one's own cars had lost much of its original attraction. Ford was now doing most of the Shelby product planning.
At the end of the 1967 model run, production was moved from Los Angeles to Michigan, where the A.O. Smith Company had contracted to carry out Shelby conversions of Mustangs. The cars were renamed Shelby Cobras (now that the original two-seat Cobra sports car was no longer being built), and Ford handled all promotion and advertising.
With the new name came a new look: A redesigned hood brought the twin air scoops up to its leading edge, while the grille, which now carried rectangular (rather than round) driving lights, became a large, gaping mouth bisected by the slim bumper. In back, sequential turn signals (adapted from the '65 Thunderbird) replaced the previous plain lenses.
Also new was the first Shelby convertible, featuring a built-in rollbar wearing an attractive plastic cover. GT-350s now used Ford's new 302-cid engine, but it had fewer high-performance goodies than the old 289, and put out a comparatively anemic 250 bhp. The Paxton supercharger option was again offered, and Shelby brochures now carried a rating for the blown engine: 335 bhp at 5200 rpm. Luxury features like automatic transmission, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, tinted glass, and AM/FM stereo dominated the options list, all of which indicated that Shelbys were no longer the hard-core sports machines they once were.
At mid-year, the GT-500's 428 engine (rated at 360 bhp for '68) was replaced by a 428 Cobra Jet, which had made a name for itself in drag racing. Although the new CJs wore the high-performance intake manifold and cylinder heads from the mighty 427, advertised horsepower somehow dropped to 335 -- though actual output was undoubtedly higher. Cars with this engine were called GT-500KR ("King of the Road"). Due to a shortage of 428s, a few GT-500s were fitted with 390-cid V-8s (much to the chagrin of their owners), while a few others once again got the 400-bhp 427.
As in 1967, the big-block Shelbys were more popular, outselling the GT-350s by 2-to-l. Total 1968 production was 4,450 cars, which would prove to be the Shelby's best sales year.
Get the specifications of the 1967-1968 Shelby GT-350 and GT-500 on the next page.
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1967-1968 Shelby GT-300 & GT-500 Specifications
Near the end of its run, the 1967-1968 Shelby GT-300 and GT-500 featured luxurious interior options at the expense of hard-core sports performance.
Engines: all ohv V-8: 1967 GT-350 289 cid (4.00 × 2.87), 306 bhp; 1968 GT-350 302 cid (4.00 × 3.00), 250/335 bhp; 1967-68 GT-500 390 cid (4.05 × 3.78), 335 bhp; 427 cid (4.23 × 3.78), 400 bhp; 428 cid (4.13 × 3.98), 335-360 bhp
Transmissions: 4-speed manual; 3-speed automatic optional
Suspension front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs
Suspension rear: live axle, leaf springs
Brakes: front disc/rear drum
Wheelbase (in.): 108.0
Weight (lbs.): 2800-3200
Top speed (mph): 120-130
0-60 mph (sec): 6.2 -7.8
Production: 1967 GT-350 1175; GT-500 2,050; 1968 GT-350 fstbk 1,253; cvt 404; GT-500 fstbk 1,140; cvt 402 GT-500KR fstbk 933; cvt 318