1968 was the first year Shelby American offered a Convertible version of their GT500 mustang. Half way through the year, the availability of the Cobra Jet engine transformed the model in the ‘Kinf of the Road’ Cobra GT500KR. Only 517 of these were produced before a major bodystyle change in 1969.
For passenger protection a padded roll-hoop was added just behind the seats which also acted as an attachment points for the seatbelt.
Forty years ago, at the 1967 New York Auto Show, Ford introduced the most powerful Shelby Mustang ever. The 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR was a mid-year introduction, based on the 1968 Shelby GT500. Ford added ‘Cobra’ to the Shelby’s moniker to help usher in the beginning of a new performance era at the company. The Cobra name referred to the new 428 Cobra Jet V-8 that was planted under the KR’s custom fiberglass hood. It was the engine that would once again vault the Mustang to the head of the pack.
GT500 KR represented Mustang’s evolution of Mustang from both Shelby’s and Ford’s standpoint. In 1967 Ford redesigned the Mustang to allow both big and small engines and by 1968 the 428 Police Interceptor FE big-block was on the option list. These Production R-code Mustangs featured front Super Cobra Jet Engines, disc brakes and a functional ram-air scoop which served as a good basis for the Shelby Mustang 500 KR.
Shelby’s Mustang offered many improvements for a customer demanding a ‘King of the Road’ Cobra. A redesigned front end, hood and rear end, with 1967 Cougar tail lights, were manufactured out of fiber glass. While the fiberglass helped reduce the weight of these components, the 1967 body style was much larger and heavier than preceding models. As an example of how good Shelby-Ford relationship was, the car send to Shelby did not have hoods or front ends.
Interior appointments were very similar to the deluxe interiors delivered by Ford. Shelby only installed a functional roll bar and a wood-rimmed steering wheel.
Ford conservatively rated the 428 CJ at 335-horsepower, but in reality it made more than 400-horsepower and 440 pounds-feet of torque. The KR model was also equipped with a modified suspension and was offered both in fastback and convertible models. Ford dealers sold 1,570 GT500KR models in 1968, 1053 fastbacks and 517 convertibles.
One of 318 built, this 1968 Shelby GT500KR convertible, number 02343, was sold new at Harr Motor Company in Worchester, Maine. Powered by the 428 CI 4-barrel Cobra Jet Ram Air V-8 mated to a 4-speed manual, it has been the subject of a frame-on restoration by Conover Restorations, receiving new original-spec Highland Green paint, new top and interior and engine compartment detailing. Desirable features include power steering, power front disc brakes, Tilt-Away steering column and 10-spoke Shelby aluminum wheels. This very sharp 500KR is documented with the original build sheet and an Elite Marti Report, and comes with the 1968 Shelby dealer brochure and postcard.
Telstar Motors of Mitchell, South Dakota and Classics Plus of Savage, Minnesota combined over 13 years to complete the Concours-quality restoration of this exceedingly rare matching numbers 1968 Shelby GT500 KR convertible. Candy Apple Red with a White top and Saddle Deluxe Décor interior, it is well equipped with air conditioning, power brakes, ten-spoke Shelby alloy wheels and the GT Equipment Group included in the GT500 package. Its 428/335 HP Ram Air V-8, here backed by a C-6 automatic transmission, was rebuilt in 2012 and dyno-tested to 399 HP and 464 ft/lb of torque. Documentation includes twoo build sheets and a Marti Report.
This GT500 KR Convertible was the recipient of a complete restoration and, in August 2007, joined a large and highly respected private collection. It is an entirely correct example, as verified by a Marti Report autographed by Carroll Shelby himself. Other great documentation includes a portion of the original build sheet, as well as an original owner’s manual. A truly excellent example, this is what many enthusiasts consider the ultimate Shelby Mustang, “The King of the Road.”