Throughout the latter half of the 1960s, Mustang sales continued to boom. Consumers from every walk of life clamored at any opportunity to climb behind the wheel of the Mustang. A special amount of fanfare had befallen Carrol Shelby’s GT series Mustangs, which had become an immense success within the performance car arena.
However, behind the scenes, times were changing. In 1968, Ford brought Bunkie Knudson, formerly of General Motors’ fame, on board as their new corporate president. Ironically, Carrol Shelby would go on to sever ties with Ford in the months to follow.
It has long been rumored that Knudson was not overly fond of the Shelby GT’s prior dominance over the Corvette, therefore was none too supportive of Carrol Shelby himself. Whether or not this was the determining factor in Shelby’s departure, few are likely to ever know. Nonetheless, 1968 would serve as the final year that Shelby would be heavily involved in the development of the cars which bore his name.
The Shelby GT350 line underwent several notable changes for the 1968 production year. The first of these changes was rooted in its name. The GT350 was now marketed under the Cobra name, which Ford quickly began using in the vast majority of its sales and promotional literature.
Now known as the Shelby Cobra GT350, the iconic Mustang derived racer was fitted with a factory 302 cubic-inch V8 powerplant. This was a significant departure from the 289 cubic-inch engine which had previously been a staple of GT350 production and led to a noticeable decrease in horsepower. The 302 V8 produced only 250 HP, as opposed to the 306 HP offered by the High Performance 289.
The GT350’s new 302 cubic-inch V8 came fitted with an all-aluminum Cobra intake manifold, topped by a Holley 600 cfm carburetor and a Cobra oval air cleaner. Cobra valve covers were also included to round out the 302’s appearance. Consumers could also order this engine in a high output format, with the addition of a Paxton Supercharger, or functional Ram Air.
A Look Of Authority
On the outside, the Shelby Cobra GT350 maintained much of its hulking figure from the year prior. However, a number of subsequent design revisions were of note. The GT350’s hood was once again composed of fiberglass. However, 1968 models now featured twin hood scoops, as well as a set of rear hood louvers. All 1968 GT350 hoods were manufactured by A.O. Smith, as the Livonia, Michigan, based company now handled all fiberglass production for the Shelby line.
The 1968 GT350’s front end also featured a much larger grille opening than had been standard on previous models, which held dual 7-inch headlights. The iconic car was also fitted with fog lights below its front bumper, which were either of Marchal or Lucas construction, depending upon production date. The GT350 also came adorned with new Cobra emblems along its front fenders.
To the rear of the vehicle, the GT350 featured a fiberglass deck lid, which included a spoiler. The GT350’s tail lights were borrowed from the 1965 Ford Galaxy. Also standard were functional rear fender air scoops, which provided additional air to the vehicle’s brakes.
The 1968 GT350 came standard with steel wheels, which included mag style covers. Alternatively, the GT350 was offered with ten-spoke Shelby wheels. However, these wheels were cast in a different fashion than those featured on the 1967 GT350, and are not interchangeable with those of prior year models.
For the 1968 model year, all Shelby GT350s continued to utilize the Mustang’s Deluxe interior package, which was available in black and saddle configurations. The GT350’s cockpit was once again fitted with a two-point roll bar, and the vehicle’s dash gauge layout was also nearly identical to that of the year prior.
While much was left unchanged regarding the GT350’s interior, a few notable revisions were put into practice. One of the most significant was the use of simulated walnut paneling throughout the GT350’s cockpit, most notably on the dash. The GT350 also featured a new floor-to-dash console, which housed the vehicle’s oil pressure gauge and ammeter.
The New GT350 Convertible
Perhaps the most substantial of all changes for the 1968 production year, was the GT350’s subsequent offering as a convertible model. Many consumers had speculated as to when such an option would come available, and Ford catered to what they saw as potential demand.
Interestingly enough, only 404 convertible 1968 GT350s were ever purchased. This equated to approximately ⅓ or less of the year’s total sales.
The Last True Shelby
One could easily classify the 1968 Shelby Cobra GT350, along with the year’s GT500, as the last true Carrol Shelby designed Mustangs of the former era. Though the Shelby name would continue to be used as a designation for high output Mustangs through the 1970 model year, Carrol Shelby himself would have little to no involvement in this program.
In the years that followed, the “Boss” moniker would carry increasing weight within the Mustang line, largely overshadowing the Shelby GT lineup that would soon be discontinued.
1968 Shelby Mustang GT350 Specifications
302 V8 engine
310 ft-lb of torque
Quarter Mile Time
1968 Shelby Mustang Production Numbers
Available Exterior Colors
The 1968 GT350 was available in Raven Black, Lime Green Metallic, Wimbledon White, Medium Blue Metallic, Dark Green Metallic, Dark Green Metallic, Candy Apple Red, Meadowlark Yellow, Dark Blue Metallic, Gold Metallic, and Orange
Available Interior Colors
The 1968 GT350 interior was available in either black or saddle. The convertible top was offered in either black or white.
1968 Shelby Mustang Video
We found a great video about the ‘68 GT350 Shelby.