Barrett-Jackson 2013: 1968 Shelby EXP 500 “The Green Hornet” fails to sell at $1.8 million
Of all the Mustangs at Barrett-Jackson this year, the Shelby “Green Hornet” was undoubtedly the most anticipated. Originally constructed as a prototype by Ford, “The Green Hornet” managed to skip the crusher and lead a second life when it was sent to Shelby and used as an experimental vehicle. The car was fitted with a fuel injection system, and independent rear suspension and rear disc brakes by Shelby’s engineers, items that made the car far ahead of its time. The Green Hornet remained stored away for several years until it was rediscovered and restored.
Because of its unique role as a dual prototype and its special features, The Green Hornet was expected to command a significant price tag. Craig Jackson, Barrett-Jackson CEO and owner of the car, valued it at somewhere near $3 million – far more than any other Mustang sold at auction. Would bidders agree with Jackson’s evaluation? Not exactly. With the Green Hornet up on the block bidding ended at $1.8 million, below the reserve set for the car. For now, it seems, the car will stay in the hands of its current owner.
The legendary Shelby prototype Green Hornet enjoys the distinct history of being one of the very few factory prototypes from that era that survived the crusher. It represents a rolling history of what was happening within Ford and Shelby American in the heyday of the American muscle car era. In 1967 the Ford team was impressed with a prototype Mustang known as “Li’l Red” which inspired the “California Special” also known as the GT/CS. As a result of this effort, two prototypes were built. One of those prototypes was VIN 8F01S104288, a Lime Gold, 1968 Mustang notchback, with a deluxe Ivy Gold interior, 390 V8 engine and C6 automatic transmission. After completing the show circuit, the decision was made not to move forward with the GT/SC program, but instead of being scrapped, the Lime Gold notchback was sent to Shelby American to once again become a prototype, this time for a different kind of Mustang…a Shelby. It was going to be an experimental Shelby, EXP 500, a prototype that would become fondly known as “The Green Hornet.” Many modifications were done, as the Green Hornet became the platform for innovation in design, performance and handling, including an experimental Conelec fuel injection system, independent rear suspension and a unique rear disc brake configuration. The Green Hornet became the pet-project of Fred Goodell, Chief Engineer at Shelby American, and both Fred and Carroll Shelby himself spent a lot of time testing and developing components for this project. The destiny of most all concepts and prototypes of the era, especially when the concept did not make it into production, was to meet their demise at the business-end of a crusher. In the case of the Green Hornet, fate intervened, and a Ford executive’s fondness for the car, and his ability to wrangle some paperwork, saved the Green Hornet from the crusher and allowed it to slip into the mainstream where it enjoyed a somewhat mundane existence for decades until it was rediscovered and restored back to its former glory. The provenance and story of this incredibly significant piece of Ford, Shelby, and muscle car history is widely publicized and documented. For decades it was thought that the Green Hornet had been destroyed like “Li’l Red” and its celebrated existence had become nothing more than urban legend. When the Green Hornet was discovered to be alive and well and documented by none other than Fred Goodell himself, it was nothing short of miraculous. The Green Hornet’s provenance of being a double-prototype, and an experimental platform for innovation and design, puts it into a unique category and represents the best of the best at both Ford and Shelby at the time. Arguably the rarest and most desirable Shelby Mustang of all time, with a documented provenance verifying its authenticity and history, it is, as Carroll said: “the one and only Green Hornet.”
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