Written by independent automotive journalist Steve Statham
How often do you get an opportunity to buy a Shelby concept and development car? Right – about as often as a total solar eclipse comes around. But at the 2017 Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas Auction, bidders will get the chance to purchase one of the most storied concepts of the modern Shelby era.
Indulge us as we share some perspective. Ford Motor Company and Carroll Shelby are joined forever in history, but their journey wasn’t always a smooth one. From 1965-67, Ford sent “knock-down” Mustangs to Shelby’s California factory, where they were converted into GT350s and, later, GT500s. However, in 1968 Ford flexed its corporate muscle and got production moved to Michigan, while at the same time developing a fleet of performance Mustangs that were direct competitors to Shelby’s. That never sat well with the former race car driver, and he soon grew bored with the whole car-building biz and dropped out for most of the 1970s.
Shelby teamed up with Chrysler in the 1980s, and even had a brief relationship with General Motors in 1999 to create the Series 1. Still, for many Shelby fans, the magic was in the Shelby/Mustang collaboration. Unfortunately, a reunion with Ford always seemed frustratingly out of reach.
That changed in the mid-2000s after Carroll Shelby’s consultations on the Ford GT program led to a renewal of relations with the big Blue Oval. A new generation of Shelby Mustangs followed, starting with the 2006 Hertz-collaboration Shelby GT-H, and then the Ford-built Shelby GT500.
For 2007, Shelby had even bigger plans – the Shelby GT. It was a significant moment in Shelby history: For the first time since 1967, Mustangs would once more be shipped to a Shelby facility for modification and then sold to the general public through Ford dealers.
The car for sale at Las Vegas played a significant role in that revival.
Needing a car for development and publicity, Shelby Automobiles acquired a white 2007 Mustang GT with a 5-speed and equipped it like the future production cars, with a Ford Racing suspension, unique front fascia, hood scoop, quarter panel scoops, Hurst shifter, and silver LeMans stripes and side stripes. Shelby gave the concept the serial number 07GT01C. Initially, it was used for advertising and press photography and was also displayed at the New York International Auto Show for the Shelby GT’s public introduction.
If you’re active in the Shelby hobby, you’ve likely encountered this car in person. It was used as a “ride-along” vehicle at many events, and was also on display at the Shelby American Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, celebrated for being the first pre-title Shelby Mustang since 1970. It is in original condition as maintained as a developmental car by Shelby American and has 9,360 actual miles.
The car comes with a letter of authenticity from Shelby American president Gary Patterson, a color copy of the original Ford MSO that was signed over to Shelby American, and a collection of photos showing the car’s conversion into a Shelby GT, along with the Ford promotional photography.
Ford’s Mustang may be the everyman’s muscle car, but thanks to specialists like Shelby American and others, collectors can always find an utterly unique Mustang to scratch that horsepower itch.
To find out what Mustangs are on the way to the Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas Auction, check out the Preview Docket HERE.