One of 318 King of the Road GT500 Convertibles Built. Original 4-Speed Example with Known History from New.
1968 Shelby GT500KR
Red with Black Interior
In 1965, Carroll Shelby put his name on his first K-coded Mustang fastback. The GT 350 packed the potent 289 cid engine and a host of other significant performance modifications, resulting in not only a remarkable performance car, but also becoming the formula for every American performance-based independent car manufacturer since. Shelby was a marketing genius, his team knew how to drum up media interest, and with Ford race support, it became clear: if you wanted a capable American performance car that could compete against higher priced European offerings, the Shelby was the choice to make. Not only were his cars performance leaders, the proven Mustang platform, American reliability, and sports car handling dismissed any worries about costly maintenance or difficulties acquiring parts.
By 1968, sales and popularity of the Shelby brand had heated up to the point where the company could invest more developing unique and more elaborate modifications to further differentiate the Shelby from the standard Mustang. The model line expanded with the GT350 and GT500 in both fastback and convertible body styles, receiving new body changes including a new grille, new front fascia, sculpted rear spoiler, unique vents and extractors along the side and sail panels of the car, new cast alloy wheels, fog lamps, and sequential tail lights. Inside the car, a deluxe interior with a fully integrated roll bar was featured along with a full complement of instrumentation and of course, race inspired amenities. During the last three months of 1968 production, Shelby learned from a friend in advertising that GM was about to do a campaign for their 396 equipped Camaro as the “King of the Road”. Striking quickly as only a small reptilian manufacturer could. “Ole Shel” worked his magic once again and beat GM to the punch, naming the KR series, exclusively for the 428 Cobra Jet powered cars in the top of the line GT500. The 428 featured low riser 427 heads with huge rectangular ports, a special dual-plane intake manifold housing a giant 4-barrel Holley carburetor, and stronger connecting rods and crank. Included in the KR package were heavy-duty front and rear (staggered) shocks, power front disc brakes, power steering, big capacity rear drum brakes, and a larger exhaust system with quad rolled exhaust tips. The results yielded massive power and performance statistics, which remain legendary today.
This particular car is one of only 318 GT500KR convertibles produced. Originally delivered to the first owner on June 24, 1968, a customer of Sud Automobile inc. of Longueuil, Quebec, Canada, the car was optioned with Lime Gold paint, black luxury interior, black convertible top, tinted windows, tilt wheel, and steel wheels with hubcaps, and powered by the stout 428 engine coupled with 3.50:1 Traction-Loc rear end and 4-speed manual transmission. The first owner retained the car in original condition until 1989 when it was sold to the second owner, a resident of Swanton, Vermont, who embarked on a ground up restoration to a very high standard in 1990. During this time, he made a few changes to the original spec including a color change to red and the installation of a Hurst shifter. The restoration was done with correct Shelby parts including extensive components sourced in 1990 from Tony Branda and other Shelby specialists. Having been maintained with just one owner up until that time, the seats and most of the original interior was retained and detailed to match the restoration.
The third owner purchased the car in April 2000, moving the car to Oregon where it would remain until the current and fourth owner purchased the car in 2003. Since that time, the car has remained as part of a well-respected Northern California family collection. Currently showing 53,852 miles, this Shelby GT500KR has resided in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past fifteen years under proper care and service including updating the restoration in 2003 and 2004 with a new oil pump and shaft, timing chain, new power steering pump and hoses, new clutch and throw-out bearing, valve seals, transmission mounts, new front motor mounts, idler arm, power steering pump, rear brake shoes and cylinders, new front rotors, new calipers with semi-metallic pads, new carburetor, alternator, voltage regulator, new fuel lines and fittings, new front and rear leaf springs, new tires, and adjustments to the Koni shocks.
Today, this Shelby GT 500KR convertible presents in very well. The red paint is glossy and was properly prepared when the car was restored. Smooth and clean throughout, there are just a few minor paint imperfections notable when viewing the finish up close: the occasional chip or scratch, and a couple of pencil eraser sized bubbles at the bottom of the driver’s door. The hood, doors, and trunk lid show good panel gaps and proper fit to the body, consistent with production fitment of the car when new. The fiberglass hood shows only minor deviation from the inboard fender lines, in fact, far less than many typical restorations. The exterior chrome and various polished trim, emblems, and badges are all in very good condition, having been correctly restored and finished per original specifications, but now showing some age on the side view mirror, grille surround, and bumper chrome. Some of the stainless trim shows light hazing, but generally all bright work is consistently good overall, being representative of a carefully stored and used car following a careful and correct restoration. The glass, lenses, and lighting have very good factory finishes combined with clean rubber and gasket material installed during the restoration still holding up well. The correct type alloy wheels are in very good condition but show some age in the protective coating. The trunk is properly finished with a correct rubber mat, steel spare wheel, and proper manufacturer stickers. Tires are in very good visual condition but are older and likely will need to be replaced should the new owner wish to use the car extensively.
The interior features an excellent combination of original and correctly renewed interior components, using replacement parts only as needed. The front and rear seats appear to be original, as do the door panels and the dashboard components. The dash pad is in excellent condition but might have been replaced during the restoration in 1990. The aluminum instrument panels, correct instruments, and correct heat-pressed door panels all reflect the originality of this rare convertible. The interior is finished off with correct black low pile carpeting and correct seatbelts, which appear original and bear FoMoCo labels. Other neat touches of originality include original warning labels on the underside of the sunvisors as well as a Utica quality control label still present on the left top latch. The unique Shelby roll bar is still in place and excellent, as the faux wood-rimmed Shelby steering wheel.
Under the hood, the ground pounding 428 engine is presented with correct components, reflective of factory assembly. The painted finishes have been applied with originality in mind, accented by correct hardware, proper hose clamps, hoses, and wiring. The finish overall is very tidy and properly presented though not overdone, as one often sees in boastful restorations. In keeping with the spirit of the original, lightly polished castings, raw metal fittings, and satin paints honestly present this top of the line Shelby. Having been restored for show more than 25 years ago, the car still appears ready for driving while certainly being capable of participating in local shows. Underneath the car the structure is excellent in virtually all areas other than some bubbling in the lower rockers where the floor pans meet the inner rockers. The remainder of the undercarriage is structurally sound and cosmetically attractive. Mechanical components are tidy and reflective of a car which received a thorough but sympathetic restoration some years ago and has been carefully used since.
The car starts easily and runs smoothly, delivering the potent and throaty big block V8 sounds that have captured the hearts of performance car enthusiasts for 55 years. First gear releases a torrent of power off the line as the engine climbs into the higher revs revealing that unmistakable American torque surge so familiar to racers who celebrated that delivery on the back straights of many a racetrack. Despite the large V8 engine, the suspension is responsive in corners with smooth and quick power delivery even when mildly cruising. Ride is composed and solid, while steering is light and easy to manage thanks to the power assistance. Even with the top down, the large open cabin delivers effortless driving pleasure, offering the added plus of ample power on tap with a flick of the gearshift and a quick flex of the right foot. Accompanying the car is the original 4-speed shifter, a set of original style wheel covers, a file folder filled with reference documentation showing Shelby build codes, ownership documentation supporting previous history, restoration invoices for parts, and service records for 2003 and 2004 mechanical updates to the restoration, as well as a file of invoices dating as far back to 1989. Also included is a set of reproduction Shelby owner’s manuals and original Shelby sales promotion literature.
This 1968 Shelby GT 500KR 4-speed is ready for enjoyable driving and showing. Correctly restored and preserved by four documented enthusiast owners since new, this top of the line Shelby is quite rare and offers open motoring to the next automotive enthusiast ready to enjoy the power and excitement of driving a performance legend.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608