From the February 1967 situation of Car and Driver.

Seven liters! Four hundred and twenty-eight cubic inches in a Mustang! We have been anticipating a cataclysm on wheels, the automotive equal of the top of the earth. We have been pleasantly stunned to find that the GT 500 isn’t something like that.

The previous corollary to that previous adage, “There’s no substitute for cubic inches,” is “besides rectangular cash”–and who would know higher than Carroll Shelby. When the Cobra 289 peaked out on the racetrack, there have been a number of methods of constructing it go quicker–costliest, one low-cost. One of the dearer methods was the Daytona coupe physique. The late Ken Miles discovered a greater method. At Sebring in 1964, he shoehorned a Ford 427 NASCARized engine right into a Cobra roadster. The experiment got here to relaxation, sorely bent, in opposition to a palm tree, however Miles endured. By the top of the season, at Nassau, he had one other one bolted collectively. It blew up, however the die was forged. Early in 1965, Shelby introduced the Cobra II with a 427 cu. in. V-8 changing the 289. That June, at Le Mans, two of Ford’s rear-engined GT prototypes appeared with the massive 427 as an alternative of the 289. The Europeans hooted and jeered on the cumbersome, heavy, unsophisticated V-8 with its pushrods and single four-barrel carburetor. A 12 months later, Ford 427s swept the primary three locations on the French basic, with Shelby’s two entries dead-heating the ultimate lap. What the 427s had crushed was a workforce of 270 cu. in. Ferrari V-12s with a number of carburetion and 4 overhead camshafts. The Italian engine developed virtually as a lot horsepower because the Ford–425 hp vs. 485–nevertheless it was way more tautly pressured and, subsequently, fragile. Which is the entire level of 7-liter Fords, Cobras, and now, Shelby Mustangs.

For ’67, Ford provided the Mustang with their tried-and-true 390 V-8, which has a bore and stroke of 4.05 x 3. 78 inches. Ford additionally builds a 428 V-8 on the identical block with a bore and stroke of 4.13 x 3.98 inches. Why not, reasoned Shelby, use this engine within the ’67 Shelby Mustang? Why not certainly. The automobile known as the GT 500 and its engine known as the Cobra Le Mans.

Somebody is telling a bit of white half-truth.

Please notice that the Cobra Le Mans engine displaces 428 cubic inches. That seems like a hair higher than the 427. In truth, they’re two solely completely different engines. Both have the identical exterior dimensions, however the 427 is extra oversquare, with a bore and stroke of 4.23 x 3. 78. The 427 is a racing engine, stuffed with the sort of intestinal fortitude that makes it able to enduring 500 miles at Daytona and 24 hours at Le Mans. The 428 is a passenger-car engine, and almost $1000 cheaper than the 427. Few folks can be pleased with the 427 except they have been racing it. It’s noisy, balky, and an oil burner at regular freeway speeds.

The GT 500 isn’t a racing automobile, though however for a couple of refined variations its engine is similar because the one which propelled Shelby’s Fords to victory at Le Mans. Seven liters in a Mustang! The early GT 500 engineering prototype was the quickest automobile ever to lap Ford’s twisty dealing with loop, aside from the GT 40s, in fact. And the identical automobile minimize a quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds at 106 mph. Super automobile!

So we braced ourselves after we caught our editorial foot into the primary manufacturing GT 500. And when it solely turned 15.0 at 95, we have been a bit disillusioned. That’s solely 2/10ths of a second faster than the Mus­tang 390 computerized (C/D, November ’65) and final 12 months’s GT 350H auto­matic (C/D, May ’66), and never fairly as quick because the original GT 350 4- speed (C/D, May ’65). But then we thought again on the sooner GT 350s and realized that what the previous Shel­by Mustang does with problem, the GT 500 does simply.

The GT 500 is an grownup sports activities automobile. Shelby’s Mustangs have come a great distance in three years—from adoles­cence to maturity. The ’65 GT 350 was a hot-rodder’s concept of a sports activities automobile—a rough-riding bronco that was as thrilling to drive as a Maserati 300S, and about as marketable a proposition. The traction bars clanked, the aspect exhausts have been deafening, the clutch was higher than a complicated Charles Atlas professional­gram, and when the ratcheting-type limited-slip differential unlocked, it sounded just like the rear axle had cracked in half. It rode like a Cones­toga wagon and steered like a 1936 Reo chain-drive, solid-tire coal truck…and we liked it. It was a person’s automobile in a world of more and more effeminate women’ carriages. You drove it brutally and it reacted bru­tally. Every minute at velocity was just like the chariot-racing scene in “Ben Hur.”

Unfortunately for Shelby, the marketplace for a automobile as furry as this was restricted. One state’s motorcar bureau complained that the brakes, though nearly fade-proof, re­quired an excessive amount of pedal strain. Ap­parently, the inspectors’ leg muscle tissues had atrophied from years of dainty stabs at over-boosted energy brakes.

For 1966, Shelby toned the GT 350 down from a wild mustang to a merely high-strung thoroughbred. It was barely tame sufficient for the Hertz Corporation, which bought 1000 of them and put them into service as the most well liked rent-a-cars the enterprise has ever seen.

The GT 350 nonetheless wasn’t acceptable to a big sufficient physique of potential patrons, so, in 1967, an abrupt change in coverage has reworked the Shelby Mustang. The $1000-or-so above the worth of a compara­ble Mustang that used to enter ex­pensive, unseen mechanical enhancements is now lavished as an alternative on exterior styling modifications. The again lot at Shelby American’s re­manufacturing plant is suffering from inventory Mustang entrance and rear sheet steel, and engine and trunk lids. In their stead go fiberglass panels styl­ized by Ford’s Chuck McHose, work­ing in shut cooperation with Shel­by American.

The new nostril piece arches tautly ahead, forming a deep cowling for the headlights (modified from duals to quads, with the high-beams centered within the grille, driving-lamp fashion). The hood options an air­scoop even bigger than final 12 months’s, now divided by an air-splitter, and it is nonetheless purposeful. At the rear, the brand new trunk lid and tail piece mix to kind a racy-looking aerodynamic spoiler lip. No one would say for positive if high-speed checks had proved the effectivity of this styling gimmick or not-but it seems to be proper. Finally, the aspect louvres have been changed by scoops-big furry scoops that poke out into the airstream past the boundary layer. Actually, these are to let the air out; stale inside air exits via the inconspicuous slot behind the inside track. The ahead fac­ing scoop results in a slim venturi space that helps draw air out the rear slot. That mild behind the inside track flashes when the flip alerts are on and glows steadily when the brakes are on. Another pair of funnel scoops are put in on the rear of the sculptured aspect panel-this time to blow air on the rear brake drums. A pair of large taillights working al­most the total width of the Kamm­impressed tail completes the Shelby look. As a complete, the Shelby Mus­tangs make the common Mustangs look sick.

Underneath, the Koni shock ab­sorbers have given approach to much less ex­pensive adjustable Gabriels; the traction bars are gone; the noisy racing differential has lengthy since disappeared; and the Shelby Mus­tang has turn into rather a lot much less like a NASCAR stocker with out turning into any much less roadable. The engineering is now constructed into inventory components as an alternative of getting to be included in further {hardware}. The entrance suspension geometry was decided by Klaus Arning and the identical laptop he utilized in establishing the suspension of the Ford GT 40 and Shelby’s Cobra II, and the entrance anti-sway bar has been lowered from an virtually­immovable one inch to a extra com­pliant .94 in. The rear leaf springs at the moment are outfitted with little rubber bumpers known as “hopper stoppers” which might be designed to stop axle hop beneath exhausting acceleration. Most of the competition-bred racing equip­ment remains to be available-if mandatory -as choices. Oddly, the rear springs are stiffer this 12 months ( 135 lbs/in vs. 115 lbs/in in ’66), however the precise experience is smoother. The entrance springs of the GT 500, at 365 lbs/in, are naturally stronger than these of the GT 350, at 330 lbs/in.

We drove, briefly, a ’67 GT 350, and famous how busy and mechanical the engine sounds. Jumping from that into the GT 500, probably the most marked distinction was in engine noise, which is virtually non-exist­ent within the 428-engined automobile aside from a motorboating exhaust throb. Our take a look at automobile additionally had an computerized trans­mission (it is going to be tough to get a GT 500 with a 4-speed handbook), energy brakes, fast-ratio energy steering, air conditioner, shoulder harnesses and roll bar. (More about these final two objects later.) All the viciousness had gone out of the automobile, with none lessening of its animal vitality. It nonetheless reacts positively, however to a a lot lighter contact. The energy brakes, we felt, have been a bit of over­delicate, however the computerized trans­mission was near-perfect. The GT 500 accelerates powerfully at any authorized velocity, will get off the mark with little wheelspin regardless of the absence of a limited-slip, and shifts very crisply. The computerized is a beefed­ up Ford C-6, and every gear change seems like “a shift and a half,” within the phrases of 1 staffer. The energy steering is among the many finest we have pushed, partially as a result of it is fast, however principally as a result of we might precise­ly really feel the highway via the wooden­rim wheel (commonplace gear).

In softening the automobile to make it extra acceptable to a wider market, among the sheer dealing with virtuosi­ty of the previous GT 350s has been misplaced, however not a lot. As you may anticipate, the automobile understeers till you get the throttle open. It tracks effectively in a cor­ner, and is exceptionally agile in evasive maneuverability checks for a 3500-lb. automobile. Our dealing with checks have been made with 40 psi within the Good­12 months Speedway E70-15 tires (simi­lar to Firestone’s Wide Ovals), so the harshness management was not all it might be with regular pressures (28 psi entrance and 24 psi rear).

The acceleration was not all it might need been both. With lower than 100 miles on the odometer, the engine was tight and breathless at something a lot over 5000 rpm. The redline is 6000, however we bought the very best acceleration instances letting the auto­matic shift by itself at 5100 rpm.

The .74 g braking means might need been higher if the facility brakes have been extra controllable. Wheel lock­up was exhausting to keep away from, and tougher to correct-pedal strain has to drop to near-zero earlier than the locked wheel begins rolling once more. This is a trait frequent to Ford energy brake sys­tems, and a greater compromise be­tween the sensitive Dearborn system and the previous GT 350 leg-buster could possibly be labored out.

We’re positive somebody will utter a cry of protest, however to our data, the ’67 Shelby Mustang is the primary manufacturing automobile to supply a real roll­over bar as commonplace gear. Not a thicker roof part, however an actual dwell roll bar. The shoulder harness isn’t commonplace gear, however just like the GT 500’s computerized transmission, it is going to be tough to get a Shelby Mustang out of the showroom with­out one.

The roll bar itself is a tubular construction, coated with padding, and welded to the chassis. Where it curves up into the roof, tabs poke out, and bolts safe the bar to the automobile’s prime within the threaded holes in­tended for the higher attachment level for Ford’s over-the-shoulder shoulder harness. Shelby’s shoulder harness is the double sort. Another pair of tabs are welded to the roll bar, and to those are bolted a pair of inertia reels made by Advanced Safety Devices. The reels exert a half-pound pull, thus requiring no adjustment by the person, and lock at .5g, one thing like a windowshade mechanism in reverse. The shoulder harness strap divides simply behind the person’s neck, the halves passing over his shoulders to lock at factors on both aspect of the seat. A normal lap belt is used at the side of the shoulder harness, however as a result of the halves do not come collectively on the lap buckle, like racing harness­es, it is the one shoulder harness we have seen that ladies can put on. These gadgets need to be seen and felt in motion to be believed. At the chance of encouraging showroom visitors by curiosity seekers, we might recom­mend that our readers cease by Shel­by American sellers and take a look at the shoulder harnesses. Then, it doesn’t matter what different automobile it’s possible you’ll purchase, drop a line to the producer and recommend that he provide shoulder harnesses like this on his automobiles.

The remainder of the GT 500 inside is inventory Mustang, aside from a couple of factors. An oil cooler is commonplace gear, however had been eliminated for some obscure analysis on our take a look at automobile, and an oil temperature gauge had been mounted beneath the sprint. It by no means bought over 230° F, inci­dentally. Our automobile additionally had the op­tional folding rear seat and an in­strument cluster (ammeter and oil strain gauge—the strain was a gentle 60 psi). The presence of the shoulder harnesses enormously com­plicated entry to the rear seat, what with climbing via a mass of ny­lon straps and ducking the inertia reels.

The air conditioner controls have been complicated in an in any other case effectively laid­-out inside, however this small annoy­ance was greater than made up for by Shelby’s particular wood-rim steering wheel. It has a lot much less dish than Ford’s, thus inserting it in an ideal place for easy management.

That, then, is the GT 500. A grown-up sports activities automobile for easy touring. No extra wham-bam, thank­-you-ma’am, only a purring, well-­managed tiger. Like Shelby says, “This is the primary automobile I’m actually pleased with.” Right. We’ve come a great distance since bib overalls too, Shel.

Specifications

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