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The top 10 Shelby Mustangs of all time

By Drew Phillips - June 11, 2012 – 10:45 am4 Comments | 15,506 views

Top 10 Shelby Mustangs

No other company has had a stronger or more lasting influence on the Ford Mustang than Shelby. Led by the legendary chicken farmer turned race car driver Carroll Shelby, the company transformed the 1965 Mustang fastback into a world class sports car and never looked back. Since that time they have produced some of the world’s most legendary vehicles from the iconic 1967 GT500 to the insanely powerful GT500 Super Snake of today.

With the passing of Carroll Shelby last month we’ve put together a list of the top ten Shelby Mustangs of all time, with their rating based on a combination of performance, influence and rarity. You can see the list below, and let us know what your list is in the comments section.

10. 1966 Shelby GT350H 

1966 Shelby GT350HIn late 1965 Shelby made a pitch to Hertz Rent-A-Car to put the GT350 in their rental lineup, and the “rent-a-racer” was born. Hertz put a little more than 1,000 of the 1966 GT350Hs in their fleet, and for just $17 per day or $70 per week anyone could rent one of their own. Most of the cars were painted black with gold stripes and fitted with automatic transmissions, although there were a few exceptions. The GT350H wasn’t just a rent-a-racer in name-only, though. Countless stories tell of cars being returned with holes in the floor pan where roll cages were fitted. There were also rumors of cars being returned with the hi-po 289ci V8 swapped out for Ford’s less powerful V8. For that reason, finding a clean, original Shelby GT350H can be a difficult task today.

9. 2008 Shelby GT500KR 

2008 Shelby GT500KRFor 2008 Ford and Shelby brought back the King of the Road – the GT500KR. Unlike the standard GT500, the KR’s final assembly was at Shelby’s facility in Las Vegas, making it all the more special. While not drastically different than the standard GT500, the KR received a variety of subtle improvements that made it a much improved car, from the tweaked suspension system to the new shifter. Under the hood the KR got a new cold air intake and a revised ECU good for an extra 40 horsepower, and standard 3.73 gears helped put the power to the ground. Visually the KR set itself apart with items like a carbon fiber front splitter and hood, unique 18-inch wheels and special badging. A total of just over 1,700 cars were produced, ensuring the KR would be an instant collector car.

8. 1965 Shelby GT350R 

1965 Shelby GT350RShelby wasted no time going racing with his new creation in 1965 with the GT350R. A hardcore track version of the GT350, R models were stripped of all unnecessary components including the headliner, carpets, upholstery, rear seats, sound deadening and insulation, and plexiglass side and rear windows were installed to reduce weight. Each GT350R was also fitted with a quick-fill 34 gallon fuel tank, single racing seat, four-point roll cage and a six-gauge instrument cluster. Under the hood the 289ci V8 was completely disassembled, balanced and blueprinted, and cylinder heads were ported and polished. Other necessary items for racing were added as well, including a large three-core radiator, external oil cooler, front brake cooling ducts and 5-spoke American Racing wheels wrapped with Goodyear race tires. The Shelby GT350R won its very first SCCA with Ken Miles behind the wheel, and Shelby went on to win the B/Production championship in 1965. Just 36 1965 Shelby GT350R race cars were produced including one prototype.

7. 1968 Shelby GT500KR 

1968 Shelby GT500KRThe original King of the Hill. The story goes that Carroll Shelby heard that Chevrolet was planning on using the KR moniker, so he went and took the name before they could use it. Visually the GT500KR separates itself from the 1967 model with its functional ram-air hood, rectangular driving lights in the grille and revised rear bumper and taillights, but the big changes came under the hood. The new 428 Cobra Jet V8 became the standard powerplant, and while it was officially rated at twenty less horsepower than the ’67 GT500 (335 vs 355), many reports indicate the engine actually produced more like 400 horsepower. A total of 1,251 Shelby GT500KRs were produced in 1968, 933 fastbacks and 381 convertibles.

6. 1967 Shelby GT500 

1967 Shelby GT500Partly thanks to its role as Eleanor in the modern version of the movie Gone in 60 Seconds, the 1967 Shelby GT500 has perhaps had a larger impact on furthering the company’s recognition with the general public more so than any other Mustang the company ever produced. A variety of fiberglass body components give the car its distinctive look including an extended front end with a recessed grille, a new hood, functional side scoops and a ducktail spoiler. Dual driving lights mounted in the grille,15-inch mag-style wheels and sequential taillights completed the look. The ’67 GT500 wasn’t all about appearances, though. Under the hood is a 428 big block V8 with 355 horsepower and a heavy duty suspension system improved handling. Making the ’67 GT500 all the more special is the fact that it was the last classic Mustang produced at Shelby’s facility in Southern California.

5. 2013 Shelby GT500 

2013 Shelby GT500Ford, SVT and Shelby took a huge step forward for the 2013 model year by upping the GT500 to 662 horsepower and 631 lb-ft torque making it the most powerful Mustang to ever come from factory. The increase in output comes via an increase in displacement from 5.4 to 5.8 liters and the used of a new 2.3-liter TVS supercharger producing a maximum of 14 psi of boost. Combined with aerodynamic improvements, the 2013 GT500 is capable of reaching a top speed of 202 mph. Other improvements include revised gearing, a carbon fiber driveshaft, a new launch control system, upgraded Brembo brakes and optional Bilstein adjustable shocks. A Track Packge is also available that includes an engine oil cooler, rear differential cooler and transmission cooler.

4. 2012 Shelby GT500 Super Snake 

2011 Shelby GT500 Super SnakeAt the 2011 New York Auto Show Shelby unveiled the 2012 GT500 Super Snake and at the time was the company’s most powerful offering yet. A post-title package available to GT500 owners and installed at Shelby’s facility in Las Vegas, the 2012 Super Snake offered up to an incredible 800 horsepower on pump gas as well as a variety of additional upgrades to the exterior, interior, suspension and more. Body components like a carbon fiber front splitter and a lightweight fiberglass hood give the car an aggressive look, while upgrades like 6-piston Baer brakes and a Ford Racing handling pack provide balanced handling and performance.

3. 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake  

1967 Shelby GT500 Super SnakeThe 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake was the brainchild of Don McCain, Shelby American’s West Coast sales representative, who believed that there was a market for a high performance Shelby GT500. Under the hood is a high-revving 427 big block V8 fed by huge Holley four-barrel carburetors. The motor could rev to 7,000 rpm and produces an astounding 520 horsepower. Visually Setting the Super Snake apart from the standard GT500 is the distinctive triple Le Mans stripe. Other unique features include a Detroit Locker differential with 4.11:1 gears and Goodyear Thunderbolt tires. To prove the car’s merits Carroll Shelby himself hit 170 mph in the car at Goodyear’s test track in Texas. Unfortunately that performance didn’t turn into success in sales, and production was limited to the single prototype.

2. 2012 Shelby 1000 

2012 Shelby 1000Unveiled at the 2012 New York Auto Show, the Shelby 1000 will go down in history both as the most powerful Shelby Mustang of all time as well as the last Mustang to be introduced while Carroll Shelby was still alive. Named because of its prodigious amounts of horsepower – 950 in street trim or 1,050 for the competition model, the Shelby 1000 features a multitude of performance upgrades including a massive 4.0-liter Kenne Bell supercharger system, a new one-piece driveshaft, a 9-inch rear end and upgraded brake and suspension systems. The 1000 is also one of the most exclusive Shelby Mustangs of all time, with just 200 scheduled to be produced.

1. 1965 Shelby GT350 

1965 Shelby GT350The original Shelby Mustang. In late 1964 Lee Iacocca tasked Carroll Shelby with turning the Mustang into a true performance car and the result was the Shelby GT350. A purist’s sports car in every sense, the GT350 was essentially a road-going version of the hardcore racers that competed in the SCCA. Shelby stuck to a simple formula – reduce weight, increase power and improve handling. The lighter weight was achieved with items like the fiberglass hood and the deletion of the rear seat, and the extra power for the Hi-Po 289ci V8 was provided by a Holley four-barrel carburetor, an aluminum intake, Tri-Y headers and a high performance exhaust system. In the handling department Shelby revised the suspension geometry and added Koni shocks on all four corners, a 1-inch front sway bar, traction bars and a strut tower brace. A total of 561 Shelby GT350s were produced in 1965, all white with blue stripes.




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4 Comments »

  • Kat says:

    I agree that you’ve got it right- hard to argue with your order. Can’t help but be partial to 3. and 4. since our Mustang Dream Giveaway Shelby GT500′s are from 67 and 2012 ( enhanced to 750 HP). Love the Shelby Supersnakes! Vrrroomm.

  • Tim Templeton says:

    Come on, don’t you truly think #8 deserves to be #1?

    Do you think the other models would have EVEN existed if the original GT350R had not been the success that it was? Do you not think that production sedan racing would have not evolved into Trans Am If this car had not led the way? Do you not think that Ford would have ever built the Boss 302? Do you not think that Ford would have not brought back the Shelby marque in 2007 if it had not been for this car?

    Think again.

  • EL SHELBY says:

    How about the Shelby GT & GTH? These cars marked the return of the Shelby America to the Pre- & Post- title modification market and made way for the modern KR & Super Snake.

  • Steve Baumgartner says:

    My car is not listed on the 10 list provided. My car of choice would be the new model GT350, 2011+ models in stage 3 trim. If I had the money right now in my pocket? I could buy any mustang I wanted whether New or Old..I would gladly buy the 2012 GT350 in a Custom color other than white with blue stripes. The GT350 in Stage 3 does it for me all day.

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