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One of approximately 267 4-speed manual cars, 517 total convertible examples made in 1968
Documented in the Shelby American World Registry
Fully restored in original specification - Wimbledon white over black interior
King of the Road-specific 428 cubic inch (7.0-liter) V8 Cobra Jet engine with 400 horsepower
Power steering, Power front disc brakes, 3.50 Detroit Locker differential, tilt steering wheel
With original build sheet, MartiAutoWorks Report, original VIN tag and temp. warranty card
Quickly becoming a household name in racing with the success of the Ford GT40 program and Shelby Cobras, Shelby American was the company that all hot rod and performance drivers wanted to be associated with. With a successful run of Cobras, GT350s and GT500s, Carroll Shelby saw his business grow exponentially to where his famous Los Angeles airport hangers were bursting at the seams from business. With 1968 looking like another growing year, it was time to move. 1968 not only saw the growing of Shelby American, but also the birth of Shelby’s most powerful Mustang-based car yet: the Shelby GT500KR, or “King of the Road.”
For 1968 Shelby not only wanted to introduce a car that would threaten other car manufacturers and their sports car models, but also appeal to more people in America. This was the first year that all Shelby cars were built in New Jersey. Ford was working on a new engine called the “Cobra Jet”, which was developed in order to go up against Chevrolet Chevelles in drag racing. While Ford rated the engine at a “modest” 335hp to try and fool the NHRA officials, it actually produced closer to 400hp. With over 450lb-ft of torque, it was perfect for the range-topping Shelby GT500KR. Convertibles were introduced to the GT500 line in 1968, coinciding with the King of the Road perfectly.
King of the Road convertibles were only a small part of total Shelby production in 1968. While there was a total of 4,451 Shelby examples built that year, only 518 were GT500KR convertibles. Even rarer was the factory 4-speed manual transmission inside of these roofless models. With an integrated roll hoop, a special interior, mountain-moving power and torque, and a host of mechanical upgrades that included power brakes, beefier suspension, and quad-tip exhaust, the GT500KR was and felt like a range-topping model. With its long sloping hood hiding the 428 cubic inch V8 underneath hand-laid fiberglass, it became a contender and dominator at any stoplight or backroad.
In 2001 an Elite Report by Marti Auto Works (Kevin Marti) created a report based on Ford Motor Company’s records for the Shelby GT500KR. It confirmed that it was indeed was an original Shelby, along with its complete list of options, unique dates for when it was ordered and built, along with a breakdown of the uniqueness of its specific specification. For example, in 1968 this car was only one of 182 painted in Wimbledon White, and only one of 267 with the 428ci V8 engine and 4-speed transmission combination.
This 1968 Shelby GT500KR was shipped to Frontier Motor Sales in Niagara Falls, New York, with its invoice dated July 23rd, 1968 per the Shelby American World Registry. It was first purchased by Jean Fitzpatrick, whose son tried to convince her that she desperately needed a Shelby Cobra 427 as her new car. On the day she was set to test the Cobra it was raining and she decided that it was too impractical. However, this GT500KR was also available and was sitting on the showroom floor. It was equipped with a black interior, the GT500 428-4V V8 engine, 4-speed manual transmission, a 3.50 Detroit Locker rear differential, black power convertible top with glass backlite, GT equipment group, visibility group, power steering, power front disc brakes, Tilt-away steering column, AM radio, and the interior décor group.
She took the Shelby for a test drive and recalls accidentally peeling out due to the wet road, where she was subsequently pulled over by a police officer. He was surprised when the “hooligan” was a middle-aged woman who said her foot slipped off the clutch, who then let her off after being amused. That event proved to be enough, as she then purchased the Shelby! The car had an MSRP of $4,983.27 per the original build sheet from Shelby American.
Jean kept the car for approximately 2 years, during that time allowing her kids to drive it from time to time. Around September 1970 she sold the car to Tom Murrin, and over a period of time the Shelby had a few other owners until Chris Heavens was the next reported caretaker. He had the car appraised by Jim Wicks in April of 2004, who said the car was outstanding on his report. Jerry Jensen would eventually acquire the car afterwards, who then sold it to Mark Harris in January of 2007 who would own the car for more than 8 years. It was then acquired by the most recent owner who kept it as a part of his collection of cars and drove it sparingly.
Over the course of its travels, the GT500KR was completely restored to a fantastic level, with a reported 2,000-hour restoration that to this day has stood up to the test of time.
Upon arrival at Canepa, Bruce Canepa took the car for a test drive to feel out how it performed. Having driven a number of Shelby GT500KRs in his lifetime paired with his exceptional attention to detail, he knew how one should drive. Upon returning, he determined that it was an awesome-driving GT500KR. During Canepa’s intensive inspection, it was obvious that this car was exceptionally original to begin with and provided a fantastic foundation for the stunning restoration. It is also apparent that the car has been taken care of with fantastic detail since the completion of the restoration based on the current condition of the car.
Each and every collector car that comes to Canepa is put through and extensive and diligent process called the “Canepa Difference.” This includes a major and comprehensive mechanical inspection where all systems are checked and serviced as necessary. They also receive an award-winning concours-level detailing, a thorough cleaning of each and every surface that ensures that every car is a sight to behold. Finishing off with a foam-pad-only polish to enhance the paint finish, each and every car is a perfect example and a personification of Bruce Canepa’s impeccable attention to detail.
Now ready for its next owner to drop the top and enjoy all 428 cubic inches of V8 Cobra Jet power that they can take advantage of, the Shelby GT500KR represents an interesting time for Shelby. With a range-topping example with stellar performance but capable of settling down for a longer drive, this Shelby American automobile will provide miles of enjoyment and plenty of excitement whenever you decide to floor the throttle.