1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

With Ford celebrating the Mustang’s 50th anniversary this year, it seems only appropriate to take a gander at a vintage model that enjoys both an iconic status and a resale value that’s far and above its original MSRP back in 1968.

While the Mustang was available with several engine options, the one to lust after was the 428-cubic-inch, Police Interceptor V-8 found in the GT500. It spat out roughly 420 horsepower and nearly 450 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a three-speed automatic, the GT500 could lay down 0-to-60-mph times around six seconds on its way to a quarter mile in just over 14 seconds — pretty respectable numbers for that era.

All that extra grunt came courtesy of the legendary Mustang man, Carol Shelby and his affiliation with Ford Motor Company. The extra tuning and Shelby’s name makes examples of his work very valuable these days. As of this writing, the particular example seen above is up for sale at RK Motors for a cool $149,900. With all the right paperwork and certified documentation, this car is the real deal.

Click past the jump to read more about the 1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500.

Exterior

Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

Two scoops adorn the side of the Mustang – one just aft of the side window, the other just behind the door.

Styling on the 1968 Mustang is long and menacing. The fastback design features a nearly flat panel of glass over the rear seats. It terminates just above the rear decklid that abruptly turns upward for that huge spoiler. Two scoops adorn the side of the Mustang — one just aft of the side window, the other just behind the door. Even the fiberglass hood gets dual scoops and louvers. Chrome hood pins keep the lightweight hood from catching flight at high speeds.

Twin, rectangular driving lights inhabit the large front grille and were sourced from either Marchal or Lucas. A bright chrome bumper runs the width of the car, bisecting the large grille. The chrome work continues around the exterior of the pony car, including the famed "SHELBY" block letters at both the front and rear.

This particular car is coated in ‘Sunlit Gold Metalic’ with twin white racing stripes running parallel along the length of the body.

Interior

Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

Black vinyl seats and high-pile carpet are period correct, as are the manual windows, door locks, and exterior mirrors.

Inside the 1968 GT500 is a cockpit designed for the business of driving. A large steering wheel with a chrome horn ring and wood trim greets the driver’s hands. The wood trim continues around the interior, covering large sections of the dashboard and center console. Even the doors get a dose of the veneer.

A T-shaped handle with an embedded Cobra snake rises from the transmission tunnel and controls the three-speed automatic. Black vinyl seats and high-pile carpet are period correct, as are the manual windows, door locks, and exterior mirrors.

Options for the 1968 Mustang included power steering with a tiling column, air conditioning, and an AM radio. Standard with the GT500 package was that wood trim and Comfortweave carpet.

Drivetrain

Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

Available 3.50 gears in the Ford nine-inch rear axle and long gears in the three-speed automatic transmission meant the GT500 could move off the line.

The legend of the Mustang GT500 starts and ends with that lies under the long hood. The 428 Cobra Jet V-8 was originally listed as making 355 horsepower, but many experts agree its actual output hovered close to 420 horses and 450 pound-feet of torque. Available 3.50 gears in the Ford nine-inch rear axle and long gears in the three-speed automatic transmission meant the GT500 could move off the line.

The GT500 got a Cobra-branded air cleaner sitting atop the big Holley carburetor. An aluminum intake manifold then funneled all that fuel-laced air into the 428’s high-performance heads. Interestingly, this particular Mustang’s engine block has a stamping that places it being cast on August 22, 1967 — months before Ford officially introduced the Cobra Jet engine. This means the blue beast sitting under this golden hood is a Police Interceptor block.

1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500: Drivetrain Specification

Type428 cubic inch Police Interceptor V8
Output420 HP
Torque450 LB-FT
TransmissionFord C6 3-Speed Automatic

Suspension & Brakes

Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

Things were better though with the optional power brake option.

Holding up the 1968 Mustang is an independent front suspension setup with coil springs and dual A-arms. Out back, a traditional leaf-spring design is used to hold the live axle in place. Amazingly that same basic design — minus the truck-like leaf springs — has survived until today — this ends with 2015 Mustang’s independent suspension at all four corners.

Disc brakes up front and drum brakes out back bring the GT500 to a stop, though not nearly as quickly as modern brake setups. Things were better though with the power-brake option. Four examples of stock E70-15 Goodyear Speedway tires are mounted on the classic 10-spoke Shelby wheels.

Prices

Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

Walk into a Ford dealership back in 1968 and the GT500 could be yours for roughly $4,500. While that was a ton of money back then, it was still possible for Joe Everybody to afford such a powerful Mustang. However with only 4,500 Shelby Mustangs built in 1968, and finding one is rare. Finding one in great condition is extremely rare.

It’s no surprise then why the gold Mustang GT500 pictured here is commanding $149,900 as it sits for sale at RK Motors. With only three owners on its registration form and 90,114 miles on the odometer, this is one of the cleanest examples around.

Competition

Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro Z-28/SS/RS

As a result of Ford bringing the Mustang to market, the boys at Chevrolet had to play catch-up. The Camaro was quickly devised to directly compete against the ‘Stang, though Chevy didn’t have a completely adequate competitor for the Shelby GT500 and its 428 V-8. The famed wrench-turners Baldwwin and Yenko swapped the Camaro’s 6.5-liter V-8 our for a 7.0-liter unit that produced over 400 horsepower. The COPO program of 1969 also used that all-aluminum, 7.0-liter V-8 and were capable of making over 500 horses with a few simple modifications.

Conclusion

Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

The classic 1968 Mustang GT500 is both a cultural icon and rolling history piece as it tells the complicated story between Carol Shelby Shelby and Ford Motor Company. Its rarity and notoriety have made the GT500 the stuff of legends, especially with its 428 V-8 snarling away under its hood. With all the right documentation and attention to detail when restoring or revitalizing such a Mustang, the cars command an outstanding price, making those investors happy folks.

Decades have come and gone since this Mustang was new, but with the right level of care and attention by a loving owner, it will be around for many more decades to come.

LOVE IT
  • Affordable price in 1968
  • Gobs of power
  • Such a respected name attached to this Mustang
LEAVE IT
  • Commands a steep price these days
  • Not overly fast by today’s standards
  • Such a limited supply

What is your take?

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