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1967 Shelby GT 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 (0139) and Fastback (0463) are sometimes referred to as a "1968 Photographic Cars," "Styling Prototypes" and/or "Show Cars."

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


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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August 1966 - Conception
Aug. 09: Shelby American types-up DSOs for first three GT-500 (big block) cars. One fastback (0100), one coupe (0131), and one convertible (0139) -- all ordered with identical paint and options. According to the paperwork, these cars were originally supposed to be built at Ford's Metuchen, NJ plant.

Aug. 11: DSO paperwork for 1967 Convertible (0139) was signed.

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

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

Aug. 18: 1967 Model year Mustang production begins at Ford's San Jose (Milpitas, CA) Plant.

With two Mustang "test mules" from Ford, Paul Kunysz and team build two proof-of-concept '67 Fastback prototypes for Ford's approval: a GT350 and a GT500; one lime green and one red. Neither car received a production VIN. The red GT500 is 67ST102 (a.k.a. the "MTU Prison Car").

September 1966
1967 Model year production begins at Shelby American, Los Angeles, CA.

Sep. 30: Letter from Frank Martin to Paul Kunysz commending him for his hard work and involvement in building the two '67 fastback prototypes.

October 1966
Fred Goodell leaves Ford to become Chief Engineer for Shelby.
 
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: 7R03S133290), 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. 04: GT350 Fastback (0001) is completed by Shelby American and shipped to Richardson Ford in Albuquerque, NM.

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 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
December 07: Convertible (0139) receives '67 Shelby upgrades and is transferred from work in progress to finished inventory at Shelby American.

Bob Carlson, sales manager at High Performance Motors, recalls Carroll Shelby driving-up in the Candyapple Red GT500 Convertible (0139). "It caused a bunch of excitement and everyone in the dealership came outside and gathered around the car to get a closer look," recalls Bob.

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

January 1967
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. 03: Coupe (0131) makes appearance at L.A. Auto Show

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

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

With designs provided by Ford, Dearborn Steel Tubing (DST) fabricates and ships prototype fiberglass components "to modify two cars for photographic purposes" (AKA "1968 Styling Prototypes"). The 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 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 Prototypes" 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 transformed. All photos of the Fastback are with it wearing Acapulco Blue paint.

The convertible (0139), with its new purpose of being a photographic car, 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 re-touched 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 at then taken to 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 car's safe return.
 

May 1967
Shelby American 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 '68 Styling Prototype role.
Ref: Theft Repair Invoice.

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.

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 news was leaked months earlier and shouldn't have been printed before October.

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]

Version 2 of the strip/emblem treatment is applied to the '68 styling cars: Both the convertible (0139) and the fastback (0463) receive updated glove box ornaments, gas tank filler cover, fender-side ornaments and rocker stripes prior to July appearance at next month's showing to the press.  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 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 new convertible. The blue fastback prototype and white convertible prototype were on hand.

Jul. 10: The two styling prototypes are taken out to Idyllwild, California for another photo shoot. Both cars are photographed at what appears to be three different locations.

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) shown at sporting event at LA Coliseum.

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, referenced by inventory number 062, is shipped to Dearborn for 'disposal.' Ref: Ionia Move Documents - Disposal of Prototypes 

Most engineering cars were shipped to Ionia on 8/18 (arriving by 8/25). Ref: Ionia Move Documents - Relocation Dates

Aug. 25: Shelby American's lease on the LAX airport facility expires and is not renewed.

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

Shelby Automotive Company formed in Ionia, MI, with a small subset of the employees from Los Angeles. They would be consulting on the project, but no longer hands-on.
 

September 1967
'68 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 take place. Ford sent five Shelby models (GT350 Fastback, two GT500 Fastbacks, a GT350 Convertible and a GT500 Convertible) overseas to the show. [Ref: VanAkin letter]

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

Oct-Nov: Nationwide strike at Ford temporarily halts production.
 

November 1967
First Print Ads showing the 1968 Shelby GT 500 cars appears in Car Life, Playboy and Road & Track magazines. The convertible used in the ads was the 1967 Convertible (0139) with the '68 fiberglass created by DST.

Regular production of 1968 model year Shelby vehicles begins.

Shelby American Racing moves to Torrance, California.
 

December 1967
Dec. 08: Shelby Automotive (or AO 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 '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: An Acapulco Blue GT Convertible first appears in print advertisement. The blue convertible appears to be a production ’68 model year car (based on stripes, rocker mouldings, wheel covers and antenna location).

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) 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 last definitive owner we've been able to trace the car's ownership history back to. When acquired, the convertible was painted Acapulco Blue. 

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.

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).

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 hidden '67 features.

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.

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.

Nov. 3, 2013: Convertible (0139) invited to Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance held at the Port Royal Golf Club in Hilton Head, SC.

Nov. 10, 2013: Convertible (0139) invited to Winter Park Concours d'Elegance, held in Winter Park, Florida.

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 Indiana SAAC Annual Convention.

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

Oct. 5, 2014: Convertible (0139) invited to the French Lick Concours d'Elegance.

Oct. 17, 2014: Convertible (0139) invited to the Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival, in Lakeland Florida with Mr. Jack Telnack, former head of global design for Ford Motor Company, serving as Honorary Chairman.


 


 

 

 

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