There were many many "Shelby Cobras" throughout the 20th century, including one that came out in 2000. However, the famous signature Cobra is the ultra-classic 1967 Ford Mustang GT
350/500 with the Super Cobra-Jet Engine designed by Carroll Shelby
. It was designed and concieved during the last year of lease on the Shelby-American
LAX facility, which is why it is considered to be the last true Shelby Cobra.
, and its sibling the GT350
, were Carroll Shelby
customized, high performance versions of the Ford Mustang which were only available for the 1967 through 1970 model years.
The 1967 GT500 is powered by a dual-quad 428 cubic inch "Police Interceptor
" engine. It is rated at 355 horsepower
, and propels the GT500 through the quarter-mile in 14.5 seconds at 101 miles per hour or 14.9 seconds with the automatic transmission. Fuel economy was not much of a concern to most people in 1967, and the GT500 only gets from 6 to 11 miles per gallon of gas.
Shelby also enhanced the basic Ford
design with many custom fiberglass body parts for the car, giving it a unique aggressive appearance. The coiled cobra logo was introduced with the 1967 GT500. This is why the 1967 GT500 is considered the
Shelby Cobra... because it was the first to feature the logo, and the last to be produced at LAX (Los Angeles, CA
The Shelby Cobra GT500 was only available from 1967 through 1970 as an upgraded and customized version of the Ford Mustang.
With the introduction of the Mustang
in 1964, Ford was interested in associating its new car with the Shelby name which was synonymous with high performance. The two companies entered into an agreement wherein semi-finished Mustangs were shipped to Shelby for performance tuning, and the GT350 was born.
When the Mustang was redesigned for 1967, Shelby took advantage of the larger engine area of the new car, and replaced the basic engine with their 428ci Police Interceptor powerplant which was fitted with an aluminum 427 "medium riser" intake manifold and two 600cfm four-barrel carburetor
s. Along with other Shelby modifications to the suspension, exhaust system, custom fiberglass body parts, and custom wheels, the new big-block
muscle car was dubbed the GT500.
In 1967, the GT500 sold new for $4,395. It turned out to be a big success and outsold the GT350 almost two to one. For those wanting even more power, several dealers offered engine swaps wherein the GT500 could be fitted with the 427 cubic inch engine from the legendary side-oiler 427 Cobra race car which produced 425 horsepower.
Shelby had been leasing a Los Angeles International Airport hangar for production of their cars. After the 1967 production run was finished the lease expired and production was shifted to A. O. Smith Company of Ionia, MI
. Thus the 1967 Shelby Cobra GT500's are often considered to be the last TRUE Shelby cars.
With the 1968 models, the GT500 received the 335 horsepower Cobra Jet engine and was renamed the GT500KR; KR standing for "King of the Road." Minor cosmetic changes such as sequential tail lights differentiate the 1968 from 1967 models. 1968 also saw the introduction of a convertible GT500.
In late 1969, Shelby asked Ford to end their working relationship. The split was partially due to increased competition from other muscle cars introduced by GM
, and Shelby's loss of interest in the Mustang which was getting larger and heavier; and as such was not as suitable for racing. Ford also started offering its own performance versions of the Mustang including the Boss 302
, Boss 429
, and Mach one Mustangs
. 1970 GT500's were actually 1969 cars that received new vehicle identification numbers, black stripes, and a front chin spoiler.
With the parting of Shelby
, production of the GT500 ceased. Like other Shelby cars, the GT500 has taken on legendary status and is one of the most sought after cars in the world.