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 1967 Shelby G.T. 500 Convertible


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Home » Research » Evolution of the "1968 Photographic Cars"

During Project Red Hot, from 2009-2015, we were able to find and catalog nearly 100 high-resolution photos of the '67 Convertible. This was no easy project -- in every photo, the Convertible and it's Fastback kin were disguised to look like 1968 models. All these photographs were taken after the two cars were updated for "photographic purposes."

Careful scrutiny of these photographs allowed us to identify and document that there was more than one version of the '68 styling treatment over the course of a few months. There were two 1968 "Photographic Cars" (one convertible and one fastback).

Note: There were a small number of differences between the two cars.

Version 1 (circa April 1967)

  • Convertible: wearing original paint color -- Candyapple Red.
  • Both ‘photographic styling’ cars captured with ‘67 10-spokes and wheel covers. The pre-production wheel covers had an inverted paint scheme from production covers. Wheel cover centers have a prototype emblem of a rectangular checkered pattern behind a left-facing Cobra snake. Convertible is also seen wearing Ford 'turbine style' wheel covers at one point.
  • Car fitted with hand-formed fiberglass components built by A.O. Smith, including a front-end, hood, tail light panel and center console. (Ref: Van Akin Letter)
  • The hood was fiberglass over steel under-structure. Visible differences between the prototype hood and '68 production hoods include: rounded front corners of top louvers, non-functional front scoop openings, sharper side edges of scoops, longer tips on front of scoops. Large hinge springs were used due to the steel under-structure.
  • This front-end was moulded/fabricated as a single piece, not the four piece front end that production cars would receive. Marchal light pedestals are the only anchor to support brace (there are no additional visible bolts visible on the grille opening bottom return.
  • “S H E L B Y” chrome lettering on header panel is more condensed, approximately 19” wide, as compared to the 23” wide lettering that production cars would receive.
  • Front grille is a pre-production variant with top-center area cut out for access to hood latch.
  • The tail light panel made by A.O. Smith fitted with ‘65 Thunderbird tail lights. Note: The convertible 0139 was originally prepared the same as all ‘67 Shelby cars, with large, crudely-cut rectangular openings in the rear valence for the ‘67 Cougar tail light assemblies. Rectangular strips of metal were cut and riveted to the top and bottom of the oversized openings to add support for the new ‘68-styled fiberglass panel fitted with ‘65 Thunderbird taillights. The chrome taillight bezels were attached with slotted (not Phillips) screws. Visible area around trunk lock was painted silver to blend with fiberglass panel.
  • Trunk lid was also fiberglass over steel under-structure (same as early ‘67 cars). Made in Los Angeles area by Barry or Plaza Fiberglass.
  • Hood locks are right & left ‘hairpin’ style click-pins with cables. Cables are fastened to the fiberglass return of upper grille opening.
  • Emblem/stripe treatment #1 - left side of the car (v1-L) different is different from the right side of the car (v1-R).
  • Functional marker lights cut into front fenders.
  • Rear lower valance changed out for Mustang GT style (wide factory openings for exhaust tips). This also eliminated the chrome trim pieces originally fitted to the original '67 lower valance panel.
  • Chrome exhaust tips are new “pipe-in-pipe” design.
  • Rear quarter reflectors were paper/cardboard mock-ups.
  • Fuel filler cap is ‘flat’ (not convex like production cars). No adapter plate was used.
  • Back of hood scoop is body color (not blacked-out).
  • Front license plate bracket removed (convertible only).
  • Stainless steel wheel well mountings added.
  • Chrome trim added around front upper and lower grille openings.
    Note: the trim isn’t metal -- it is a flexible chrome plastic body moulding.
  • Marchal SEV 658 series spot lamp lenses (same as used on GT40) Fitted to upper grille opening. These are not the broad-beam fluted 653 series driving lamp lenses that were eventually used in production cars. The pedestals were blacked out to make the lights appear as if they are “floating” in the grille area.
  • Lucas toggle switch to control Marchal lights added to lower left of dashboard (below convertible power top switch). Switch is same as that used on dashboards of AC Cobra cars.
  • Goodyear Speedway 350 “small letter” tires (note: when car was discovered in late 1970's. the spare tire in the trunk was still as the factory delivered it, a Magstar with Goodyear large letter tire).
  • Convertible top boot is stock Mustang type, with exterior snaps painted black. Two interior snaps on either side were visible and unpainted.
  • Wood Grain appliqué applied over stock brushed steel ‘67 dash and ‘67 door panels.
  • Dashboard knee pad is about twice as deep as those found in most cars. Note: Knee pads were sourced from multiple suppliers, so this is not unique to the convertible. This does, however, help us identify 0139 as the convertible in the vintage photos.
  • Prototype console made by A.O. Smith. Compared to a production console, it is wider; the stitching, piping and seams different; the armrest is not embossed and is covered in Connolly leather rather than production vinyl.
  • Front seats are wrapped in black Connolly leather rather than production vinyl. The tags found in the convertible designate them as “Show Car” seats. Note: 0131, the coupe known as 'little red' also received a black Connolly leather interior.
  • Stainless trim surrounding ’67 seats and seat emblems were blacked out.
  • Prototype steering wheel with unique (small) center top pad and horn half-ring. Steering wheel believed to have be sourced from the Ford Thunderbird.
  • Leather/vinyl-wrapped roll-bar with top clasps (which, according to the press release, were for “securing a surfboard or skis”).
  • Large ‘67 style rear-view mirror relocated and mounted directly to front window (top windshield frame mount receiver still present).
  • Seatbelts are ‘67 deluxe style, and shoulder harnesses were added.
  • Headlights are Tung Sol, as would have been originally delivered from Ford San Jose.

'Version 1' of the '68 styling cars were photographed at Malibu Beach beach wearing ‘67 10-spoke wheels, off I-10 (at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains) wearing the 15” steel wheels with the prototype wheel covers and at the Shelby American facility at LAX. In the LAX shoot, Carroll Shelby is standing with the two styling cars (and the convertible is also captured wearing Ford 'turbine style' wheel covers p/n: C8AZ1130B).

Version 1a (circa May 1967)

  • Convertible has been repainted Wimbledon White. Clear evidence of repainting includes painted bumper support arms, painted body pinch-welds (both were originally black), and runs in the paint on the cowl (visible in the one engine bay shot we've found).
  • All other features, including the emblem and stripe treatment, remain unchanged from version 1.

Version 1a of the convertible '68 styling car was photographed at the LAX facility on the tarmac and then taken to the Hollywood Park horse racing track along with the Acapulco Blue Fastback for a professional photo shoot.

Version 2 (late June 1967)

  • Convertible remains Wimbledon White.
  • Body pinch-welds have been blacked out, however, bumper support arms are still covered in white overspray.
  • Back of hood scoop is now blacked out with what appears to be black vinyl tape.
  • DZUS hood locks with cables attaching them to inside openings of hood scoop replaced the click-pin locks.
  • Quarter panels now appear to have early ‘68-style reflectors, though there is no recess or cut-out in the quarter panel to accept them (they are surface-mount and sit atop the sheet metal).
  • Fuel filler cap emblem has been updated.
  • Fender emblems are very close to production, though they are actually two separate pieces. The snake piece is thicker  and the rectangular “COBRA” portion has black lettering on a silver background with red and blue stripes above and below (a theme shared with the 427 Cobra's side emblem).
  • Rocker stripes are near production (though still ‘67 style - door justified model rather than centered like production ‘68).
  • Dashboard emblem is now similar to ‘68 production style.
  • Roll-bar and interior panels are updated - both appear to be molded fiberglass with a textured coating. Roll-bar no longer has top clasps.
  • Under the hood, the factory dual-quad setup has been replaced with the setup from a 427 Cobra (intake, 715 CFM 4bbl carburetor and circular chrome air cleaner).

Version 2 of the '68 styling cars were first photographed during 'press day' at the LLTC held at Riverside Raceway on July 7, 1967. Three days later near they was taken out to Idyllwild and photographed at three locations in the mountains. Some of the Version 2 photos have been found in the Ford Archives, however, no Version 1 photos have been found in the archives.

Version 3 (possibly)

  • Repainted Acapulco Blue.
  • Fitted with production 4-piece front end and full fiberglass hood.
  • Brightwork added to rocker panels.
  • Antenna relocated from front right to left rear.
  • DZUS hood locks are no longer tethered with cables.
  • Fender emblems and model designation in stripe is ‘68 production style.
  • Rear-view mirror updated to ‘68 production.
  • Roll bar is still a prototype (wider uprights)

Version 3 is only found in a single print ad titled "Try the complete surprise... Carroll Shelby's COBRA GT"

The "1968 Shelby Photographic Cars Spotter’s Guide"
How to quickly identify the ‘68 photographic cars in old photos:

  • Wheels -- when wearing wheel covers, the paint is inverted from production colors. Centers also have a prototype emblem of a rectangular checkered pattern behind a left-facing Cobra snake.
  • Model designation in side stripe is door-justified like a '67, not centered on the front fender as the '68 production cars would be.
  • No bright-work on rocker panels.
  • Cables on hood locks -- either click-pins with cables attached to front grille opening -or- DZUS locks with cables attached to inside of hood scoop openings.
  • Front-mount antenna.
  • Prototype emblems on sides, glove box and fuel filler cap. Often, the early color photographs found were often retouched (airbrushed, altered) to make the car appear as if it had a production emblems and stripes.
  • No embossed emblem on top of center console armrest.
  • Front seats and console armrest show clear signs that they are not vinyl, but rather a more supple material such as Connolly leather (convertible only).


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