Every car on the road is a product of a handful of prototype vehicles that laid down the final blueprints ready for the production cars that followed. These prototypes are usually very unique, not to mention historically significant to their model history, and so finding one is a collector's dream. This 1969 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible Prototype was discovered in Detroit, USA. Now fully restored, the Shelby provides an intriguing look back at how the model came to be.
The Ford Performance website reports that after an extensive research project into chassis #2336, it was discovered that the Mustang Convertible was one of four cars ordered by Shelby in on July 21, 1968. The quartet of pony cars were to serve as evaluation testbeds for new Shelby models, each to be converted to the required specification upon delivery. #2336 started life as a GT model with a 428 Cobra Jet engine, but was destined to become a Shelby GT500.
As its restoration began and more information on the car came to light, it was clear to see how Shelby used to take these cars apart to try out new components. Prototype parts found on this GT500 included a left-quarter side scoop, 120mph speedometer, unique tubular roll-bar, 1968-style Stewart Warner console gauges, power windows from a Mercury Cougar, seatbelts from a mix of suppliers, 1968-Midland power brake booster and master cylinder, and pre-production sequential tail lamp wiring. Prototype cars can often be a hodgepodge of parts that engineers are evaluating, many of which never make to the finished article.
How was this rare prototype GT500 found? Hidden under a sheet of tarpaulin in a storage building for 37 years, the Mustang hadn’t moved an inch since 1977 when it was parked. It had only covered 7579 miles! The car was discovered in 2014 and caught the attention of a handful of car collectors who were chatting about the recent discovery at the French Lick Concours d’ Elegance in Indiana. George Huisman, Ed Meyer, Tony King and Jason Billups started chewing the fat in relation to this Shelby, with all keeping in touch after parting ways.
Tony was on the road in 2015 when he got a call that the Detroit Shelby was available. Quickly exiting the highway, he went to pick up Jason and Ed to go and check out this car. Ed was actually missing his 60th birthday party to find out if this GT500 was the illusive prototype they were casually talking about the year before. After looking at some accompanying paperwork the trio were satisfied that this was a prototype Shelby and they promptly bought it. Loaded into Tony’s horse box trailer, the car was sent to a workshop Jason owned ready for a complete restoration.
Now fully restored and painted in its original Raven Black color scheme, the Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible Prototype represents a slice of Shelby history. This highly accurate restoration wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless research and the purchase of sister prototype #2338 to study for originality. The finished car is a masterpiece.
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