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      Muscle Cars: Muscle Cars: American Motors - Shelby Mustang-Snakes Alive
    Posted on Tuesday, October 12 @ 21:01:08 UTC by Cars
      Muscle Cars Snakes Alive What Carroll Shelby and his crew did with the Mustang GT350 was nothing short of miraculous. Here was a car based on the lowly Ford Falcon that, by the time Shelby American was done with it, was spanking the Corvette Sting Ray in SCCA B-Production road racing.

    While the addition of horsepower was Integra to this transformation, horsepower alone did not do the trick. Fully adjustable Koni shocks were used at all four corners and the front suspension geometry was slightly revised: the stock front sway bar was replaced with a beefy, 1-inch-diameter unit. To limit axe hop in the rear, the kind of traction bars usually found on a drag car were utilized. A Galaxie 9-inch rear with a Detroit Locker limited slip differential was standard, but this noisy differential was the source of so much controversy it was dropped for 1966. Much larger than stock 11-inch Kelsey-Hayes vented disc brakes were used up front and 10-inch rear drums were fitted with 2 1/2-inch-wide sintered metallic linings. To take full advantage of the chassis's capabilities, a Monte Carlo bar and export brace were installed under the hood—effectively keeping the front end from flexing. The slow steering was speeded up by lengthening the Pitman arm 1 inch. It held the road tenaciously and its side-exiting exhausts with glasspack mufflers were pure rock 'n' roll. Buoyed by the GT350's stripes and Shelby emblems, this new 'Stang was an instant sensation. Which, of course, ultimately led to its being watered down. Purists cringed when in 1966 things like the backseat reappeared and the battery found its way back under the hood, but Shelby and Ford were both in business to make money. First-year production was only 562 units, which included thirty-five competition "R" models and nine drag cars. For 1966 the GT350 was slightly more civilized (an automatic transmission was optional), but it was still a warrior. A Paxton supercharger became an option at $670. But the ultimate coup for Shelby was Hertz Rent A Car's order for one thousand Shelby Mustangs, which were dubbed GT350H. Almost all of these cars were equipped with automatic transmissions and, there were rules governing who could rent them, yet many came back stinking of burnt rubber and bearing the scars of organized competition. As the Mustang got larger in 1967 and the trend toward big-block power grew, if came as little surprise when the 428 Shelby appeared in 1 967. What was surprising was how quickly the car was moving away from its roots as a thinly disguised racer. For 1967 Shelby had Chuck McHose and Pete Stacey substantially alter the Mustang's appearance. A fiberglass nose extension gave the car a substantially meaner look. Mounted in the center of the grille were two 7-inch driving lights, which became a source of controversy. Most '67s had them mounted together in the center of the grille. Not only was this deemed illegal in some states, but it also caused overheating in some cars. The solution was to separate them, moving them to the outer extremities of the grille. A functional fiberglass hood was standard. Side scoops for the brakes (these scoops had first appeared in 1966) and passenger compartment were mounted behind the doors and on the sides of the roof, respectively, and a fiberglass deck id with integral spoiler was used. But the sharpest trick was the use of dechromed Cougar taillights, which ran practically the width of the car. The power plant for the Mustang GT350 remained the modified high-performance 289, but a specia 428 was used in the big-block model, which was crowned the GT500. Most of these came with a Shelbyized version of the Police Interceptor engine, with dual 600 cfm Holleys on an aluminum medium-riser intake, a heavy-duty cam, and 10.5:1 compression—good for 355 hp and 420 Ibs.-ft. of torque. A handful of other GT500s came with the 425-horse 427, but the exact number is not known. Even with the " esser" 428, these snakes flew. I had the opportunity to test one a few years back and it posted a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds and a quarter-mile ET of 13.76 at 102.82. For 1968 Ford took over Shelby Mustang production and things pretty much went south from there. Production moved to Livonia, Michigan, where the cars were built by the A.O. Smith Company. The emphasis was now placed on luxury rather than performance. The high-winding 289 was replaced by an anemic 302 4-barrel (it really needed the optional supercharger). The 428, though rated at 5 more horsepower, came with one less carburetor. When the 428 Cobra Jet was re-leased in mid-1 968, this engine became the only big block in the Shelby, and the Shelby, previously designated GT500, came to be called GT500KR, for "King of the Road." For the first time, you could get air-conditioning. The interior was awash in woodgrain trim, and a convertible model was an option. Still desirable and still very fast, it was, however, a Shelby in name only. By 1969 the GT350 and GT500 were totally restyled and barely recognizable as Mustangs. The fiberglass front end hinted at what the Mustang would look like in 1971, while '65 Thunderbird taillights were used out back. It was the least "Shelby" of all the cars that bore his name. The 351 4-barrel with 290 horsepower was standard in the GT350. It differed from the production Mustang engine only in that it had an aluminum in-fake and Cobra valve covers. Big-block lovers got the same 428 Cobra Jet found in regular Mach 1 Mustangs—in fact, the Competition suspension and rear axle were the same, too. It's sad to think that a Shelby Mustang would have a heavy-duty suspension as an option, but such was the state of the nation. Approximately 789 Shelbys were left over after the '69 model year. These were rebadged, altered slightly, and sold as 1970 models. Not surprisingly, this spelled the end of Shelby production.
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