Shelby Mustang Brief History & Cars
The Ford Mustang was a huge sales success but Lee Iacocca was concerned that the Mustang lacked performance and that it would hurt sales long term. Ford had a Ford Division Total Performance marketing program but instead Iacocca called Carroll Shelby and asked if he could make the Mustang into a sports car with a winning performance image. Ford saw the success Shelby had found with the Cobra, and hoped Shelby could breathe some performance into the new Mustang. Shelby and his company, Shelby American, accepted the job and began work on the very first Shelby Mustang in August 1964. The result was the 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350. The new GT350 dominated the competition on road race circuits across America. The Shelby GT350 was produced from 1965-1970, with the GT500 model added in 1967 after Ford enlarged the Mustang enough to hold a big-block V8. When Ford Motor Company assumed production of the Shelby automobiles in 1968, the vehicles moved further away from the sports car Shelby American envisioned. In January 1970, Carroll Shelby retired from the automobile and racing business. The Shelby Snake and the big Blue Oval partnered to make fast cars together once more following the introduction of a capable, retro-styled new Mustang for 2005. When the supercharged Ford Shelby GT500 arrived in 2007, Shelby Automobiles was ready. Working closely with Ford Motor Company, the two companies offered the GT500KR through Ford dealers and the GT500 Super Snake edition available directly from Shelby. The two brands haven't look back ever since.
Shelby Model List (Including Post-Title Packages):
Shelby GT350 (1965-1966)
The 1965–1966 cars were the smallest and lightest of the GT 350 models. These cars are often called "Cobras". All 1965 - 1966 cars had the Windsor 289 cu in HiPo K-Code V8, modified with a large 4-barrel Holley 715 CFM carburetor to produce 306 bhp and 329 lb/ft torque. On January 27, 1965, the first Shelby Mustang made its public debut. By February, the race version of the car (the Shelby GT350R) won its first SCCA race. The R stood for race specifications, and only 35 of these were manufactured. Buyers began to associate the Shelby name with Mustang performance. The 1965 Shelby cars were uncompromising race cars, but for the 1966, Shelby was willing to include a few consumer-friendly features. In 1966, because of its popularity as a race-day performer, Hertz rental car company purchased 1,001 "rent-a-racers" Shelby Mustangs, named GT350-H, which ended up at rental car locations all over the country.
Shelby GT350 & GT500 (1967-1968)
Unlike the 1966 Mustangs, which were a minor facelift from the debut 1965 models, the 1967 Mustang represented a major change from the pony car of the year before; it was all new. It was redesigned to add room in the engine compartment for big-block power. It also gave Shelby what he wanted, the room to differentiate the Shelby cars from the regular Mustang models in terms of looks. Engine wise, for 1967, the GT350 carried over the K-Code high performance 289 with a 'COBRA' aluminum hi-rise, some new race-inspired features and a bigger (still functional) air scoop. The GT500 was added to the lineup in 1967, equipped with a "Ford Cobra" FE Series 428 cu in (7.0 L) V8 engine with two 600 CFM Holley four-barrel carburetors sitting atop a mid-rise aluminum intake manifold. In 1968, Shelby released what many consider the "ultimate" Shelby Mustang. The original 1968 Shelby GT500-KR (King of the Road) produced 360 hp courtesy of a 428 cubic-inch Cobra-Jet V8 engine. The car was also available as a convertible.
Limited Edition, One-Off & Post- Title Shelby Mustangs (1967-1968)
Several one-off Shelby Mustangs made an appearance in 1967 and 1968 that are worth mentioning. Given they are very limited cars, we decided they needed their own special section. The most notable limited edition Shelby came when Shelby released 1968 Shelby GT500-KR (King of the Road).
Shelby GT350 & GT500 (1969-1970)
The 1969-70 Shelby Mustang represents the evolution from both Shelby and Ford. By 1969, the production Ford Mustang was redesigned as a larger and more luxurious model. Many special models made available by Ford themselves which directly competed with previous Shelby upgrades. However, these cars did not stop Shelby from moving forward with his ’69 Mustang, but marked the end of Ford and Shelby’s cozy relationship. In 1969 Ford continued to produce the GT350 and GT500 with the new body design that added four inches to the length of the car. Many of the 1969 GT350 remained unsold and were relabeled at 1970 models with a chin spoiler and hood stripes until the complete production was sold. The 1969 Shelby Mustangs ditched the Cobra label from their name, and just like in 1966 cars were simply referred to as Shelby GT350s and Shelby GT500s. Due to their heavier weight, seventies styling and lack of race program, the 1969 and 1970 Shelby Mustangs were overshadowed by their earlier counterparts.
2nd Gen Shelby Mustangs (S197 I: 2005-2009)
In January 1970, Carroll Shelby retired from the automobile and racing business. It wasn't until many decades later that Ford and Shelby Snake partnered to make fast cars together once more. It started with the introduction of the capable, retro-styled new Mustang for 2005. Shelby initially began producing a string of special high performance Mustangs, starting with the CS6, which then led to the CS8. In 2006, Shelby and Hertz reunited for a 40th anniversary Hertz Shelby, the GT-H. The Hertz cars proved so popular that the public clamored for a version, which resulted in the Shelby GT. It was really the Shelby GT that kicked up production for Shelby, as these were pre-title cars sold through Ford dealers, and built in large numbers. In 2007 it became official and Shelby put out two new Mustangs: the 319 hp Shelby GT and the 500 hp Shelby GT500. Both cars were an immediate success. For 2008 Shelby also introduced a special Terlingua Mustang package for V6 Mustangs and more importantly Shelby brought back the King of the Road Mustang. In 2009, the GT500KR and GT500 Mustangs returned, although the Shelby GT Mustang was removed from the lineup.
Limited Edition, One-Off & Post- Title Shelby Mustangs (2005-2009)
Several limited edition packages were offered fore the Shelby Mustangs during the 2005 to 2009 period. Given they are limited cars, we decided they needed their own special section. The most interesting limited edition Shelbys from this era were the GT500KR (King of the Road) models. Shelby started with a GT500 and then added a supercharger, intercooler, cold air intake and then gave the whole vehicle a specialized calibration. Limited to only 1,000 40th anniversary editions in 2008, an additional 571 2009 models brought the total number to 1,571, the same as the production run of 1968. The other interesting specials were the 2007-2009 Shelby GT500 Super Snakes. These Shelbys were done through Shelby American and involved sending your GT500 to Shelby’s Las Vegas shop for an additional performance enhancement.
2nd Gen Shelby Mustangs (S-197 II: 2010)
Like the rest of the Mustang lineup, the GT500 got a redesigned body for the 2010 model year. The hood, nose and grille were all made more aggressive and it is easily one of the hottest looking Mustangs over the last 20 years. Powertrain lessons learned from the 2008-2009 GT500KR filtered their way into the 2010 GT500. The Shelby still got the 5.4 litre supercharged V8 engine but now putting out 540 horsepower and 510 lb/ft torque by using a cold air induction system. The 2010 model featured a four-cam 32-valve V8. The engine added 40 more horsepower to the previous year's engines. This revamped GT500 Shelby Mustang went from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The one problem with the 2007-2010 Shelbys was that the weight of their massive engines tended to make them a bit front-heavy, negatively affecting handling. The Shelby team addressed this in 2011-2012.
Limited Edition, One-Off & Post-Title Shelby Mustangs (2010)
The Prudhomme Edition Mustang drag snake is different than any high-performance Mustang you’ve ever seen. This drag car was an absolute monster. The 2010 Shelby GT500 Super Snake is once again a post title package that gives you a host of handling, styling and power upgrades ranging from 630 horsepower to well over 725 horsepower. You take your GT500 and deliver it to Shelby for more work.
2nd Gen Shelby Mustangs (S-197 II: 2011-2014)
In 2011, Shelby American brought the Shelby GT350 back to life with the new 5.0L V8. For the first time since the 1970 model year, both the Shelby GT500 and GT350 were available. For the first year, the GT350 was only available in white with blue stripes, but by 2012 it returned with a variety of colors. The 2011-2012 Shelby GT500s got a 5.4 liter V8 that had ten more horsepower than previous models but weighed 100 pounds less thanks to an aluminum engine block. Other improvements seemed specifically sculpted to address driver’s experience with the addition of Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) and lowered stance. The result was a car even more powerful with much crisper steering. Then, just when you thought they couldn’t possibly add more horsepower, Ford released the 2013-2014 Shelby Mustangs. The 2013-2014 models featured a 5.8 L 32-valve V8 supercharged engine. This engine was capable of producing a crazy 662 horsepower and 631 lb/ft. of torque.
Limited Edition, One-Off & Post-Title Shelby Mustangs (2011-2014)
Friends of Carroll Shelby, including Ford Motor Company, Shelby American, Ford Racing and many others have built a unique 2013 Shelby GT500 Cobra as a tribute to the late Carroll Shelby. Once again Shelby offered a Super Snake package and those are some of the most fun models. Much like previous Super Snake packages, this was a post-title package that involved sending your new GT500 to Shelby and letting him add a laundry list of performance upgrades.
3rd Gen Shelby Mustangs (2015 - Present)
The third generation of Shelby-branded Mustangs hit the market starting in 2015. The Shelby GT featured more trendy, aggressive styling and newer technologies, including carbon-fiber components. The Hertz Shelby was back but instead of using a GT350 as the base, the Shelby GT-H started with a Mustang GT. The GT350 and GT350R are probably the best Mustangs ever made in terms of overall performances and continue to win awards. The Voodoo Coyote engine uses a flat-plane crankshaft instead of the more traditional cross-plane for a sound that’s out of this world. In 2019 the GT350 received additional performance enhancements that included an updated suspension and summer tires as well as a gurney flap. In 2020 the world got an official Shelby GT500 for the sixth generation Mustang with an engine appropriately nicknamed "the Predator".
Limited Edition, One-Off & Post-Title Shelby Mustangs (2015-Present)
Without a GT500 to build on top of, we all thought the Super Snake post-title package was finished. Shelby had other ideas and the S550 Shelby Super Snakes were in fact offered, based off a Mustang GT which is then equipped with a Whipple style supercharger. It also includes a carbon-fiber Super Snake hood with a forced-air hood scoop. There’s more carbon fiber on the front and rear diffusers as well as the rear spoiler. There is also a redesigned grille and more obvious Super Snake branding inside and outside the vehicle. In January 2017, Ford announced a special-edition 50th-anniversary release of the Super Snake, limited to just 500 production units. The pony car featured special trim and minor performance enhancements.
More Shelby News, Rumors, Videos & More
Whether it is a cool Shelby Mustang for sale or awesome Shelby Mustang video we find online, this is your hub for all the fun things going on in the world of the Shelby. Enjoy.