The John Staluppi Collection

1 December 2012

Lot 232

1968 Shelby Mustang GT500-KR Convertible

To be auctioned on Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sold for $264,000

  • Chassis no. 8T03R21012003499


A rare Acapulco Blue example with factory air conditioning

360 bhp, 428 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 108 in.

When Ford decided to make a serious performance Mustang, they went to Carroll Shelby, whose Ford-engined Cobras were setting the world on fire. They sent Shelby a white 1965 Fastback without rear seats or hood. He worked his magic with the 289 engine, coaxing it to 306 horsepower, and put on a fiberglass hood with a functional scoop. A blue stripe was applied to the lower side, with a bold “GT350” aft of the front wheel opening. All external Mustang emblems were removed. Koni shocks were fitted, along with override traction bars at the rear. A larger front stabilizer bar completed the package. Interiors were all black, with a three-spoke wood steering wheel and competition seat belts. The open area for the rear seats was utilized to mount the spare tire. All cars had the Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed transmission. Just 562 were built for 1965, 522 “S” (for street) models, 36 “R” (racing) cars, and four for drag racing.

A more ambitious program began in 1966. GT350s became available in red, green, blue, and black, all with white stripes and the GT350 logo. During the year, hoods were changed to steel because the fiberglass was proving troublesome. The grille emblem became smaller, and a new GT350 gas cap was adopted. The Koni shocks became optional to Ford heavy duty units, and many of the Shelby suspension components gave way to standard Ford items. The production of 1966 Shelby Mustangs totaled 2,378 cars, including 1,367 standard fastbacks, four drag racing cars, and four convertibles. In addition, a few were supercharged and 1,000 were supplied to Hertz as performance rental cars. These were the first rent-a-racers, with most driven hard and some apparently even raced. As a result, Hertz began to order these GT350-Hs with automatic transmissions.

The year 1967 brought a mildly re-contoured Mustang body. Shelby took out the grille and put a pair of high beam lights in the cavity. Taillights were replaced by rectangular units, and the air scoops were punched into the side coves, ahead of the rear wheels.

But the big news was the GT500, with the 428-cubic inch engine used in that year’s Shelby Cobra. With 10.5 to 1 compression and a Holley four-barrel, it made 355 brake horsepower. A four-speed manual was standard, but the C6 automatic could be ordered. It proved more popular than the GT350, with 2,050 built. No convertibles were built by Shelby that year, either as GT350s or GT500s.

For 1968, Shelby had even more power on tap. The new GT500-KR (for “King of the Road”) had a modified 428, now making a reported 400 horsepower. Called the “Cobra Jet,” the engine had been concocted at Tasca Ford in East Providence, Rhode Island, then a leading dealer in performance cars and a keen competitor in the 1960s drag racing scene. This became so intense that owner Bob Tasca formed a high-performance division within his dealership, selling some 60 hi-po cars a month and working with Ford engineers and factory tuner Holman-Moody on modifications for his own team cars and cars for sale to the public. Fruits of these efforts included the “Thunderbolt” lightweight Fairlane drag cars and the “Mystery Mustang,” a SOHC short-wheelbase match race car.

The Cobra Jet came out of Tasca’s disappointment with the 390-powered Mustang introduced for 1967. One of his mechanics over-revved one while “street testing” a car, so Performance Manager Dean Gregson had a 428 Police Interceptor short block reworked with better heads and freer breathing. It went like lightning, but Ford brass was reluctant to give it the blue oval approval. Tasca’s influence, plus a push by readers of Hot Rod magazine’s technical editor, Eric Dahlquist, resulted in the Cobra Jet’s launch in April 1968.

As for the GT500-KR name, Shelby had caught wind of the fact that Chevrolet planned a 396 Camaro called “King of the Road” and promptly snatched the title for his Mustang instead, stealing the march on GM’s entrenched bureaucracy. Interestingly, the 427 engine could be had as an option. Other options on the GT500-KR included power steering, power disc brakes, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, and an AM radio. The GT500 returned in 1969, but no GT500-KRs were built after 1968. Production totaled 933 coupes and 518 convertibles.

This Shelby GT500-KR convertible is among the rarest of the rare. One of the 518 GT500-KR convertibles, it is gorgeous in its original shade of Acapulco Blue, of which, we are told, just 51 were built. It is equipped with an AM radio, tilt-away steering wheel, console with gauges, starter delay, and smog equipment. Additionally, it is one of four such cars reportedly built with air conditioning.

Its condition is exceptional, with all body contours correct and excellent paint and chrome. The black vinyl interior is as-new, and the floor has GT500-logo black rubber throw mats. The instrument panel boasts a 140-mph speedometer, with the odometer showing 53,729 miles, and an 8,000 rpm tachometer. Underneath, the car is clean and corrosion-free and is exceptionally detailed with proper red oxide and factory overspray. The correct 10-spoke Shelby aluminum wheels are mounted with Goodyear Polyglas F70-15 tires.

The rarity of this car cannot be understated. As one of four with its specification to include air conditioning, it is reportedly the only one delivered in the southern United States. Restored to the highest standards in the most desirable color combinations, it represents an opportunity not soon to be repeated.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

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With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

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Don Rose

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Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more