We’re fans of a car that hides its true form

The 1969-1970 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 arguably marked the end of an era, as the GT500 began to be built in-house by Ford. Carroll Shelby’s actual involvement in the design of the car was reduced, somewhat telling of the colder relationship between the two sides that was further underlined by the fact that Ford raced the Boss 302 at the same time - not a Shelby model. But all that gets put aside when you look at the renders of Rostislav Prokop that has envisioned an unusual mid-engined Mustang: one that keeps the proportions of the front-engined original.

It’s mid-engined but you wouldn’t know it

This Classic, Mid-Engined Mustang Is the Muscle Car We've Always Deserved
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Shelby and Ford partnered to take over the world. Shelby, on the one hand, needed a well-funded partner to get his Cobra project going while the Blue Oval, on the other, was looking for someone to steer their on-track ambitions as the Total Performance era kicked into gear. Throw into the mix the fact that Dearborn’s top brass was kicked out by Enzo Ferrari while the Americans tried to coax Il Commendatore to unclutch his hands off the Scuderia, and you’ve got all the reasons why Ford and Shelby decided to walk together.

As history and cinema tell, the partnership was fruitful with Ford-powered Cobras dominating SCCA competition at first before Pete Brock’s Daytona Coupes went on to claim a maiden World Sportscar Championship TItles for an American brand and driver. Then, the Le Mans wins came after Shelby took over the Ford GT40 program and, at the same time, the Ford Mustang was unveiled, and Shelby had a hand in the first go-fast versions ever made, namely the GT350 and, then, the GT500.

This Classic, Mid-Engined Mustang Is the Muscle Car We've Always Deserved
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But, then, Ford quit doing sports car racing and focused solely on ovals - be it in USAC or NASCAR - which wasn't Shelby's territory.

While the two entities kept working together, the 1969-1970 iteration of the Shelby Mustang GT500 was a sign that the status quo was about to change. For the 1969 model year, the Ford Mustang was redesigned, and so too was the GT500, but the latter was made to look nothing like the standard Mustang, nor the go-fast versions made by Ford that lacked the Shelby lettering on the back. Among those was, of course, the Boss lineup that replaced the Shelby-tuned Notchback-bodied cars of ’66-’68.

While Shelby did still run one of the Works-backed teams in Trans-Am in 1969 (with Messrs Kwech, Gurney, and Revson doing the driving), the 1969 MY Shelby GT350 and GT500 models didn’t spawn any race versions and, as a result, have lost some of their appeal over time as fans tend to remember the previous, more race-focused Shelby Mustangs fondly. Having said that, the ’69-’70 Mustang Shelbys are quite rare, which makes them a rather expensive proposition at auction.

As mentioned, the 1969 Mustang Shelby looked nothing like any previous Shelbys, nor the standard 'Stang from that time.

Featuring a rounded fascia lined out by chromed trim pieces, the pair of headlights, each at one end of the fascia, guard the recessed rectangular grille in between. The body featured many racing-inspired devices such as a lip spoiler, a fixed rear wing, air ducts carved into the body to cool the brakes, and a total of five NACA ducts on the hood itself.

But all of that couldn’t hide the more sedated demeanor of the 1969 GT500. Having grown about four inches in length, the big Shelby also gained weight because Ford decided to retain most of the amenities (like an AM-FM stereo radio, tilt steering, and Ford air conditioning) that were contrasted by the presence of a roll bar.

Featuring the massive 7.0-liter 428 Super Cobra Jet V-8 under the hood, the GT500 brought about 335 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque to the table as the Ram Air scoop fed the single Holley carb.

It might’ve been enough on a ’68 model, but by ’69, the GT500 Coupe (read Sportsroof) weighed in at 3,600 pounds.

Shelby GT500 specifications
Engine: 7.0-liter 428 Super Cobra Jet V-8
Horsepower: 335 horsepower
Torque: 440 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 120 mph
Weight 3,600 pounds
This Classic, Mid-Engined Mustang Is the Muscle Car We've Always Deserved
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Still, Carroll Shelby owned a 1969 Shelby GT500, but his was the even heavier convertible which, at 3,960 pounds, couldn’t dream of reaching the manufacturer-proclaimed six-second 0-60 mph time. But that didn’t stop someone from paying almost $130,000 for it during the Bonhams Quail Lodge auction in 2018.

Looking at the grand proportions of the last of the original Shelby Mustangs (Ford and Shelby effectively stopped working together in August of 1969), digital artist Rostislav Prokop came up with this. Low slung, full of aero bits and pieces and finished in a gorgeous dark red tint; this GT500 serves us a special treat: its engine is in the middle.

However, what Prokop’s done is quite ingenious as he tried as much as possible to conceal the relocation of the engine, much like Porsche has done in the case of its most recent GTE-spec race cars that, while mid-engined, have kept that unmistakable Porsche shape. As such, there’s still a low, long hood in the front; it fenders cut to make room for huge black wheels hugged by Nitto tires. To keep the illusion going, the hood even has three big, bulging vents, but it’s the cut-through rear window that gives this monster away. There’s probably little to no separation between the driver/passenger and the engine bay but what’s certain is that there’s no back seat.

This Classic, Mid-Engined Mustang Is the Muscle Car We've Always Deserved
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There is, however, a huge, land-speed-record-style wing in the back as well as a diffuser that channels the air direct by that big, multi-element splitter in the front. It’s all really intricate, and the only issue is that the car doesn’t exist. If it did, then probably it’d need more holes for cooling in the back and into the B-pillars and rear fenders, but we guess some more cutting wouldn’t ruin this ’Stang’s appeal.

Source: Ford Authority

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500

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