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1967 Shelby G.T. 500 Convertible

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  As original documents, photographs and advertising materials were collected and analyzed, a timeline was constructed to help chart the evolution of the convertible and other important Shelby American vehicles.

Note: Depending on the document or author, the Convertible (s/n: 0139) and Fastback (s/n: 0463) are sometimes referred to as a "1968 Photographic Cars," "Styling Protos" and/or "Show Cars."

The 1967 Shelby GT Convertible was assigned serial number 0139 and also referenced by 062, its Shelby American company car inventory number while in California.

April 1966

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May 1966

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June 1966

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July 1966

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August 1966

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September 1966

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October 1966

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November 1966

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December 1966

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January 1967

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February 1967

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March 1967

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April 1967

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May 1967

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June 1967

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July 1967

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August 1967

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Legend:
|   | = Work in Progress
|   | = '67 Styling
|   | = '68 Styling

April 1966
Apr. 13: Shelby orders four G.T. 350 Convertibles. The typed date of the Ford Special Order Form (DSO) is April 13, 1966.
 
June 1966
Jun. 07:  Shelby American staff meeting minutes refer to the four 1966 G.T. 350 convertibles, which were received a day earlier, as 'experimental.'  This document confirms Shelby's intention to introduce a convertible G.T. model in the spring of 1967.
 
August 1966 - Conception
Aug. 08-10: Shelby places the first round of Special Orders with Ford for '67 model year cars (order numbers #2501-2512). 

Aug. 11: DSO 2512 for the 1967 Convertible (0139) was accepted and signed-off off by Ford Special Vehicle Team.

Aug. 12: DSO 2512 for 1967 Convertible (0139) stamped "RECEIVED" by Ford.

Aug. 16: Order for 1967 Convertible (0139) keyed into Ford's computer system.

Aug. 18: 1967 Model year Mustang production begins at Ford's San Jose (Milpitas, CA) Plant.
September 1966
Sep. 01: First GT350, s/n 0176 is built at Ford's San Jose plant.

With two Mustang fastbacks from Ford, Paul Kunysz, Lonnie Brannon and team build two proof-of-concept '67 Fastback prototypes for Ford's approval: a red GT500 and a lime gold GT350. The red GT500 is 67ST102 (a.k.a. the "MTU Prison Car"), and the green GT350 is believed to be s/n 0176.

Sep. 23: Second GT350 built by Ford's San Jose plant, s/n 0056.

Sep. 27: Third GT350 built by Ford's San Jose plant, s/n 0057.

Sep. 30: Letter from Frank Martin to Paul Kunysz commending him for his hard work and involvement in building the two '67 fastback concept cars (67ST102 and 0176).

October 1966

1967 G.T. production begins at Shelby American, Los Angeles, CA with the first batches of Mustang G.T. 350 cars delivered.

Oct. 01: The first production '67 G.T. 350 Fastback is completed by Shelby American and assigned s/n 0176.

Unfortunately, fiberglass fitment, supply issues, and financial problems plague the operation from the onset.  Due to these problems Ford Motor Company steps in and takes control.  Ford places their own Ray Geddes in charge of purchasing and sends Fred Goodell out to become Chief Engineer.  Ford also involves A.O. Smith "in an emergency fashion" to help solve the fiberglass issues.

November 1966 - Birth
Nov. 01: Fastback (0100) serialized at Ford
(VIN: 7R02S132***) 7 - 1967, R - San Jose
02 - Mustang Fastback.

Nov. 01: Convertible (0139) serialized at Ford
(VIN: 7R03S133***), 7 – 1967, R – San Jose,
03 – Mustang Convertible

Nov. 02: Coupe (0131) serialized at Ford
(VIN: 7R01S133***), 7 – 1967, R – San Jose,
01 – Mustang Coupe

Nov. 07: GT500 Fastback (0100) completed a week early by Ford's San Jose plant.

Nov. 08: GT500 Coupe (0131) completed a week early by Ford's San Jose plant.

Nov. 08: GT500 Fastback (0100) "released" to Shelby American, Inc., 6501 W. Imperial Hwy, Los Angeles, CA 90009.

Nov. 08: Order for GT500 Fastback (0463) keyed into Ford's computer system. Ref: Marti report.

Nov. 21: Convertible (0139) completed (a week late) by Ford's San Jose plant. The convertible was actually scheduled to be built on the 14th.

Nov. 23: Fastback (0463) serialized at Ford
(VIN: 7R02Q146***) 7 - 1967, R - San Jose
02 - Mustang Fastback.

Nov. 25: Convertible (0139) "released" to Shelby American, Inc., 6501 W. Imperial Hwy, Los Angeles, CA 90009.

December 1966
Dec. 07: Date that Shelby American deemed the Convertible (0139) completed -- only '67 Shelby upgrades would have been available).

Convertible (0139) assigned to Carroll Shelby as his "personal driver."

Bob Carlson, Sales Manager at High Performance Motors, recalls Carroll Shelby driving-up in the red G.T. 500 convertible (0139). "It caused a bunch of excitement and everyone in the dealership came outside and gathered around the new '67 GT convertible to get a closer look."

Due to the problems that plagued the '67 program from the onset, Ford makes the decision to postpone the mid-year Coupe and Convertible body styles until the following year.

January 1967

Jan. 03: Coupe (0131) reportedly makes appearance at Los Angeles Auto Expo

Jan. 03: Fastback (0463) completed nearly a month late by Ford's San Jose plant. This Fastback was scheduled to be built on 12/05/1966.

Jan. 06: Fastback (0463) "released" to Shelby American, Inc., 6501 W. Imperial Hwy, Los Angeles, CA 90009.

February 1967
Jim Frank hired and begins work at Shelby American with the title of "Development Engineer." Jim reports to chief engineer, Fred Goodell.
March 1967

With designs provided by Ford, A.O. Smith fabricates and ships prototype fiberglass components "to modify two cars for photographic purposes" (AKA "1968 Styling Prototypes"). The hand-built fiberglass parts for each car included a hood, front-end, tail light panel and a console. According to the Van Akin Letter (page 2, item #4), the dollar amount for this work was nearly $14,800, or about $7,400 per car. For three pieces of fiberglass and a console, that's nearly twice the cost of the car that the parts were bolted on to!

Mar. 28: Date code found on Seat Load Deflection Data Tags. Ref: Seat Tags Scanned Image. Both the convertible (0139) and the Coupe (0131) were fitted with black Connolly Leather "Show Car" seats.

Mar. 31: 1967 GT Convertible (0139) listed on Shelby American, Inc. Federal Excise Tax and California Use Tax on Company Vehicles for Quarter Ended March 31, 1967.

The last 427 Cobra Roadster is built.

April 1967 - Transformation
Six months prior to the 1968 models being produced, two Shelby American company cars were re-purposed as "1968 Styling Cars" to be used for photographic and public relations events. 0463 was chosen for the Fastback, and 0139, the only GT500 convertible on-hand was used.

The Fastback (0463), originally painted Lime Gold, was repainted Acapulco Blue after being updated. All photos of the Fastback are with it wearing Acapulco Blue paint.

The updated convertible (0139) was taken to Malibu Beach. Photos taken from this iconic shoot later appeared on the cover of the tri-fold dealer brochure, and then in the first color print ad in Nov-1967 (the rocker stripes, fender badges and fuel filler cap were 'airbrushed' on the published photos).

The two photographic cars, the convertible (0139) and the fastback (0463) are also photographed together at the LAX facility with Carroll Shelby and at the base of the San Jacinto mountain range for some off-road action shots.

According to interviews of Jim Frank, Fred Goodell, Carroll Shelby & a Theft Repair Invoice, the convertible's (0139) is reported "stolen" shortly after being transformed into a "1968 styling prototype," and "returned" a few days later." In a 2003 interview, Carroll Shelby revealed that the convertible (0139) wasn't really stolen -- that the reported theft was merely the "public story." He refused to give further details and stated "It's better to let a sleeping dog lie." Other information from the Carroll Shelby Foundation indicated that some form of "compensation was tendered" for the convertible's return.
 

May 1967
Shelby American reportedly replaces "missing" parts from the reported April theft of convertible (0139). Strangely, the itemization of parts replaced looks striking similar to the parts list required to convert the car to its new role as a '68 styling car.
Ref: Theft Repair Invoice.

Six months after stepping in, Ford made the decision to terminate the relationship with Shelby American. Upon conclusion of the '67 model year production, and before '68 production began, Shelby was to relocate a small staff to the Dearborn area to consult and 'oversee' the transition to A.O. Smith.

Convertible (0139) is repainted Wimbledon White and is photographed at Shelby American's LAX facility. The Fastback (0463) is photographed along with Shelby's corporate jet.

The convertible (0139) and the Fastback (0463) are taken to the Hollywood Park horse track for another photo-shoot. These photographs would be included with the press kit handed out at the Long Lead Technical Conference held at Riverside International Raceway in early July.

June 1967
1968 styling details and assembly engineering drawings are finalized.

Jun. 10-11: Carroll Shelby and the Holman & Moody group deliver the ultimate victory to Ford at the 1967 24 hours of Le Mans (35th Grand Prix of Endurance).

Motor Trend Magazine, in their 'As Rumor Has it' section,  prints "Shelby-American will have a convertible in '68 . . . True ­ Shelby was shorting himself, perhaps on the premise that converts account for only 16% of Mustang sales. What he should have looked at was his direct competition, Corvette, which runs 31.3% with its ragtops." -- Obviously this reporter leaked the news ahead of time, though the irony is he didn't know that Shelby fully intended to introduce a convertible by mid-'67 model year. [ref: June '66 staff meeting minutes]

Jun. 14: "1968 Shelby GT Front End Assembly Drawing". The blueprint showed the finalized 4-piece fiberglass components.

Jun. 20: Repairs of Convertible (0139) "Stolen and Returned" are billed to Zurich American insurance company. [Ref: Shelby American, Inc. Invoice #5040]

Both '68-styled photographic cars, the convertible (0139) and the fastback (0463), receive updated (version 2) ornamentation on the glove box, fuel filler cap,  and fenders.  Rocker stripes were also updated prior to the car's appearance at next month's LLTC.  Photos show that the Convertible also received an updated roll-bar.

July 1967
Jul. 06: Press release (with media blackout until Oct-3) is handed-out at the Long Lead Technical Conference (LLTC) during the Ford and Shelby Performance Show being held at the Riverside International Raceway July 6-7. The press kit includes four photos and details of the upcoming '68 Shelby vehicles, including the blue fastback (0463) and white convertible (0139). Both cars were also present for members of the press to drive and photograph.

Jul. 10: The two '68-styled photographic cars are taken out to Idyllwild, California for another photo shoot. Both cars are photographed at no less than three different locations in Idyllwild.

Jul. 31: Convertible (0139) listed on Shelby American, Inc. Vehicle Fixed Asset Ledger – Auto Division as of 1967-Jul-31.

Jul. 31: The end of Shelby American Inc.'s fiscal year.

Aug, 1967
1967 Shelby Coupe "Little Red" (0131) reportedly shown at a sporting event at Los Angeles Coliseum.

Aug. 02: Task List regarding A.O. Smith & Ford [handwritten]

Aug. 04: Last '67 Mustang built at San Jose assembly plant.

Aug. 10: Due date for convertible top boot to be modified by local trim ship. Ref: Ionia Move Documents - Jobs Yet to be Completed in CA

Aug. 14: Due date for Convertible's (0139) sample production roll bar. Ref: Ionia Move Documents - Jobs Yet to be Completed in CA

Aug. 15: Print (Lithograph) date of '68 Shelby Cobra GT 350/500 Tri-Fold Dealer Brochure. The convertible (0139) graced the cover.

Aug. 18: Convertible (0139), referenced by inventory number 062, along with other engineering cars, are "disposed of" by means of shipping them to FoMoCo in Dearborn. Ref: Ionia Move Documents - Disposal of Prototypes. Most engineering cars were shipped on 8/18 (arriving by 8/25). Ref: Ionia Move Documents - Relocation Dates

Aug. 31: Shelby American lease for their Los Angeles Airport facility is allowed to expire, pursuant to the decision that was made back in May.

Production of the ’68 Shelby Mustang moves to Ionia, MI,
under contract with the A.O. Smith Company.

The Shelby Automotive, Inc. company is formed in Ionia, MI, with a small subset of the employees from Shelby American, Inc. They would be 'consulting' on the 'Shelby project,' but no longer hands-on. A number of documents we've found seem to tell the story of a contentious relationship between A.O. Smith and Shelby Automotive.
 

September 1967
1968 model-year Mustang production begins at Ford.

1968 Shelby Dealer Promotion Handbook printed (lithographed) and distributed to Shelby dealer network. The Convertible (0139) graces the cover of this publication.
 

October 1967
Oct. 05-15: The 54th Annual Pairs Automobile Show takes place. Ford sent a gold G.T. 350 Fastback overseas to the show. [Ref: VanAkin letter]

The first four ’68 model-year Shelby cars sent to Ford’s engineering department.

Oct. 24: Activities by Shelby Automotive [handwritten]

First print ads showing the 1968 Shelby G.T. 500 cars appear in the November issues of Car Life, Playboy and Road & Track magazines. The convertible pictured in the ads was the 1967 Convertible (0139) that had been updated to look like a 1968 model.

Oct-Nov: Nationwide strike at the Ford Motor Company temporarily halts production of vehicles.
 

November 1967
Nov. 08: Memo from Shelby Automotive to A.O. Smith

Regular production of 1968 model year Shelby vehicles begins.

Shelby American Racing moves from the Los Angeles Airport facility to a new location in Torrance, California.
 

December 1967
Dec. 08: A.O. Smith sends three page letter to Ken VanAkin, Senior Buyer at Ford, requesting reimbursement for engineering expenses during the 1967 calendar year.

Oct-Dec: The 1967 Coupe (0131) "Little Red" was air-shipped to Dearborn at the request of Henry Ford II.
 

1968
April: Shelby Automotive purchases a stock Mustang coupe with 390 cu.in. engine. This car is used to test Conolec fuel injection and  experiment with an independent rear suspension setup. Eventually, the Coupe receives some spare '68 styled Shelby fiberglass, gets painted a special metallic Green, receives a black vinyl roof and is nicknamed the "Green Hornet." The car never receives a Shelby VIN.

March: A G.T. Convertible, painted Acapulco Blue, first appears in print advertisement. It is unknown if the blue convertible is 0139, repainted again, or a production ’68 model year car. The car's stripes, rocker mouldings, wheel covers and antenna location appear to be production, though the roll-bar looks non-production).

September: 1969 Mustang production begins at Ford

November: 1969 Shelby Mustang production begins
 

1969
Jan. 24: There is no 1967 convertible listed on the Shelby Automotive Engineering Vehicles list, dated January 24, 1969, which leads us to conclude that the convertible (0139) would have been sold-off on Ford Motor Company's "B-lot" by this time.

September: The Shelby Mustang project is terminated as sales slow dramatically. The leftover '69 models are updated to '70 specifications and production ends.

December: Shelby Automotive Racing Company closes
 

1971
The 390-cu.in. equipped '68 Mustang Coupe formerly nicknamed "The Green Hornet" by Shelby Automotive, is purchased for $3,000 from the Ford Employee and Auction Resale Lot in Dearborn. The buyer was Robert Zadnowski, a Ford employee and the yard supervisor.
 
1977 - 1997
Nov. 1976 - The convertible (0139), still disguised with '68-styled fiberglass, is offered for sale in the Chicago Tribune's classified ad section.  The ad reads:
          _____________________________
          Shelby - '68. GT 500 Conv. 428
          lk new eng. top and tires.
          Must sell immed. $4000/offer 392-0571
          _____________________________

Jan. 8, 1977 - Convertible (0139) is purchased by Donald Neil Osbjornson of Lake Forest, IL. This is the furthest back that we've been able to trace the car's ownership history to. When acquired by Osbjornson, the convertible was painted Acapulco Blue, had a rear-mounted antenna and had steel wheels with 1970-styled Ford center caps.  Osbjornson's first order of business was to change out the wheels, are replace the well-worn driver's seat with one from a '68 he found at a regional junkyard.

Aug. 20, 1978: Convertible (0139) is purchased by Jamie Ventrella of Northfield, IL. It was Ventrella's that originally posed the theory that the convertible was actually a 1967 model year vehicle due to all the '67 parts and the configuration.

Ventrella repaints car its original color of Candyapple Red.

Jul. 1, 1983: Convertible (0139) shown by James Ventrella for first time at first SAAC convention in Dearborn. Shelby experts did not believe the car was real (and this is understandable because they didn't have any of the Shelby American paperwork at the time).

Dec. 16, 1985: Frustrated at the lack of acceptance of the car from the Shelby community, Ventrella sells the convertible to his friend, Richard Kot.

1986: The Shelby American interviews Jim Frank for "Cobrasations," issue #49. The convertible (0139) is discussed.

1988: The Shelby American interviews Fred Goodell for "Cobrasations," issue #53. The convertible (0139) is discussed.

Jul. 1989: Dave Mathews authenticates the convertible's hidden Ford VIN at SAAC 14 held in Pocono, PA.

Jul. 14, 1997: Richard Kot offers car for sale at SAAC #22

2001 - 2007
Feb. 03, 2001: Richard Kot forced to sell convertible (0139) due to divorce proceedings. Mrs. Kot contacts Volo Auto Museum about the value of a "1967 Shelby Convertible Prototype."

2001: Volo Auto Museum acquires the convertible (0139) from the public auction.

2001-2003: Brian Grams begins research effort during cosmetic restoration of the Convertible (0139). He makes the decision to restore the car with 1967 Shelby styling due to his discoveries of telltale '67 features found when car was taken down.

Dec. 04, 2003: Carroll Shelby interviewed by Donn Gurney in reference to the convertible (0139). As part of the interview, the Carroll Shelby Foundation also provides detailed vehicle information and an authentication letter

Mar. 27, 2007: Dana Mecum acquires the convertible (0139) from Volo Auto Museum.

 

2009 - Present
May 17, 2009: Styles acquires the convertible (0139) from Dana Mecum and begins the research phase of this project.

Feb. 2010: With a team of experts assembled, the physical restoration of the convertible (0139) begins. The decision was made to restore it to the "earliest known point as a Shelby." Given the research, photographs and lack of an accurate timeline, the car was restored to its role as the "1968 styling and photographic car."

Nov. 19, 2011: Public unveiling of the restored convertible (0139) at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Rosemont, IL.

Jun. 1, 2012: Convertible (0139) shown at Ford Nationals at Carlisle, PA. The car is displayed in prestigious invitation-only T-building.

Jun. 8, 2012: Convertible (0139) shown at SAAC-37 held in Watkins Glen, NY, where the car was judged and awarded "Gold - Division II."

Jun. 22, 2012: Convertible (0139) displayed in Marriott (host hotel) lobby at Mid-America Ford and Team Shelby Meet in Tulsa, OK. The car was judged and awarded Heritage Gold.

Jul. 30, 2012: Convertible (0139) invited and shown at Concours d'Elegance of America, held at the Inn at St. Johns, in Plymouth, MI. Styles presented with Lee Iacocca Award.

Apr. 27, 2013: The convertible (0139) appeared on Spike TV's PowerBlock show hosted by Courtney Hansen.  [Magazine & Video clips] (Filming took place in March 2013 in Nashville, TN)

May 5, 2013: Convertible (0139) invited to Concours d'Elegance of Texas (Houston) where it was judged and awarded Best in Class - The Cars of Carroll Shelby.

Jul. 6, 2013: The two '68 styling & photographic cars, the Convertible (0139) and fastback (0463), are reunited at SAAC-38, held in Riverside, California. This is the first time in 46 years that the two cars have been photographed together.

Jul. 20, 2013: Convertible (0139) invited to Keeneland Concours d'Elegance, in Keeneland, KY where it was judged and received two class awards, including 1st place by the junior judges and 2nd place by the class judges.

Oct. 4, 2013: Convertible (0139) invited to the Louisville Concours d'Elegance, where it was judged and awarded Best in Class.

Apr. 17, 2014: Convertible (0139) displayed in the 50 Rare Cars exhibit at the Mustang 50th Anniversary event held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.

May 16, 2014: Convertible (0139) displayed at annual Indiana regional SAAC convention.

May 25, 2014: Convertible (0139) sent to Billups Classic Cars for a re-restoration to the highest Concours standards.

Oct. 05, 2014: Convertible (0139) invited to and shown at the French Lick Concours d'Elegance where it was awarded Best in Class.

Jan. 11, 2015: Convertible (0139) invited to and displayed in a special VIP showcase at the Palm Beach Supercar Week.

Mar. 22, 2015: Convertible (0139) invited to and displayed at The Palm Event, held on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, FL.

*UPCOMING EVENTS*

Nov. 2016: "50th Anniversary of the G.T. 500" invitational display at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals.

Mar. 2017: "50th Anniversary of the G.T. 500" class at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.


 


 

 

 

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