1968 Shelby EXP500 Hardtop
In 1968, Shelby American tried out several prototype features on this experimental Mustang known as the Green Hornet. It was used for component testing and remains as one-of-a-kind GT500KR prototype. Unlike almost all other GT500s this car was built from an S-Code 1968 Hardtop (VIN 8F01S104288) that was one of Ford’s GT/CS prototypes.
Shelby took received the Hardtop at their new facility in Ionia, Michigan where “Walt Nelson, Fred Goodell, George Merwin and Ray Geddes transformed it into a true Shelby.”2. They fitted a 428 Cobra Jet engine which and it later debuted in April as the GT500KR. To handle the extra power, a Lincoln torque converter was fitted as was a F350 transmission. As such, the car became a testbed for the Cobra Jet engine and also other experimental components which Shelby were considering.
One of these was an experimental electric fuel injection system that Dave Long of Bendix was developing for the Ford/Mercury line. This was never put into production, but it’s an interesting footnote in Mustang.
An independent rear suspension was also tried in the EXP500. It used the rear leaf spring attachments for a basic half-shaft setup with lateral links. The 9-inch differential was retained.
Shelby American did all the usual upgrades to the car. The front suspension was upgraded and a set of ten-spoke wheels and F60-15 tires were fitted. “The body and interior were given the Shelby treatment. A complete ’68 nose with functional ram air hood, and a tail panel that accommodated the ’65 Thunderbird taillights were installed, and the GT/CS side scoops remained.”1
After the car was finished, it received “three coats of Gold Luster Green lacquer with gold metallic mica over the original topcoat. For additional brilliance each of three coats were hand-rubbed and the topcoat was treated to two coats of clear lacquer. Emblems and custom white/gold EXP500 stripes identified the car as a Shelby prototype.”2
The power rating wasn’t published but the car did post a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 157 mph at the Ford Proving Grounds. Hemmings said “considering the 3.0:1 ratio in that 9-inch rear, a 3,500-pound test weight, and the tire technology available at that time, these are astounding numbers.”1 They also pointed out that Car and Driver posted a 6.5-second 0-60 mph time, an estimated 128 mph top speed for a stock GT500.
Later, the car was sold off of Ford’s Employee and Auction Resale Lot, but the special injection and rear suspension was long gone. Through several owners the only ’68 Shelby Hardtop was slightly modified, but not enough to elude Randy Darrow. In the 1980s he discovered his Shelby was a one-of experimental prototype and they approached Fred Goodell in 1988 to correct the car back to its 1968 specification. The restoration was finished in April of 1993 by Classic & Muscle Mustang Restorations of Midland, Michigan. The bolt-in rear suspension was fabricated while the experimental injection system was left off the car.
Later EXP500 joined the collection of Craig Jackson of Barret-Jackson fame. On the facts section of his website he lists the value as $1-2,000,000.
Sources & Further Reading.
1. Koch, Jeff. ‘Green Hornet’ Hemmings Muscle Machines. September 2006.
2. Jackson, Craig. exp500.com.
|type||Professionally Tuned Car|
|built at||Ionia, Michigan, USA|
|engine||Cobra Jet V8|
|block material||Cast Itron|
|fuel feed||Conelec Fuel Injection|
|displacement||7014 cc / 428 in³|
|bore||104.9 mm / 4.13 in|
|stroke||101.1 mm / 3.98 in|
|power||298.3 kw / 400 bhp|
|specific output||57.03 bhp per litre|
|bhp/weight||251.73 bhp per tonne|
|torque||569.4 nm / 420 ft lbs @ 3200 rpm|
|body / frame||Unitary Steel Monocoque|
|wheel type||Aluminum 10-spoke|
|front tires||F60-15 Goodyear Polyglas|
|rear tires||F60-15 Goodyear Polyglas|
|front brakes||Kelsey-Hayes Discs|
|rear brakes||Kelsey-Hayes Discs|
|front wheels||F 38.1 x 17.8 cm / 15 x 7 in|
|rear wheels||R 38.1 x 17.8 cm / 15 x 7 in|
|steering||Recirculating Ball w/Power Assist|
|f suspension||Upper Wishbones w/Lower Control Arms, Coil Springs, Telescopic Shock Absorbers, Anti-Roll Bar|
|r suspension||Indpendend w/ Coil Springs, Telescopic Shock Absorbers, Anti-Roll Bar|
|curb weight||1589 kg / 3500 lbs|
|wheelbase||2743.2 mm / 108 in|
|front track||1473.2 mm / 58 in|
|rear track||1473.2 mm / 58 in|
|length||4739.6 mm / 186.6 in|
|width||1800.9 mm / 70.9 in|
|height||1310.6 mm / 51.6 in|
|transmission||F350 3-Speed Automatic|
|gear ratios||2.46:1, 1.46:1, 1.00:1|
|top speed||~252.61 kph / 157 mph|
|0 – 60 mph||~5.7 seconds|
|0 – 100 mph||~11.4 seconds|
|fuel capacity||64.34 litres or 17 gal.|