1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

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From the February 1967 challenge of Automobile and Driver.

Seven liters! 4 hundred and twenty-eight cubic inches in a Mustang! We had been anticipating a cataclysm on wheels, the automotive equal of the tip of the earth. We had been pleasantly shocked 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 many costlier methods was the Daytona coupe physique. The late Ken Miles discovered a greater approach. 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 persevered. By the tip 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 a substitute of the 289. The Europeans hooted and jeered on the cumbersome, heavy, unsophisticated V-8 with its pushrods and single four-barrel carburetor. A yr later, Ford 427s swept the primary three locations on the French traditional, with Shelby’s two entries dead-heating the ultimate lap. What the 427s had overwhelmed was a workforce of 270 cu. in. Ferrari V-12s with a number of carburetion and 4 overhead camshafts. The Italian engine developed nearly as a lot horsepower because the Ford–425 hp vs. 485–but it surely was far more tautly careworn and, due to this fact, 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 automotive known as the GT 500 and its engine known as the Cobra Le Mans.

Any person 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 fully completely different engines. Each 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, filled 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 practically $1000 cheaper than the 427. Few individuals could be proud of the 427 until they had been racing it. It’s noisy, balky, and an oil burner at regular freeway speeds.

The GT 500 is just not a racing automotive, though however for a couple of delicate variations its engine is identical 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 automotive ever to lap Ford’s twisty dealing with loop, aside from the GT 40s, in fact. And the identical automotive reduce a quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds at 106 mph. Tremendous automotive!

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 had been a bit dissatisfied. That is solely 2/10ths of a second faster than the Mus­tang 390 computerized (C/D, November ’65) and final yr’s GT 350H auto­matic (C/D, Might ’66), and never fairly as quick as the unique GT 350 4- velocity (C/D, Might ’65). However 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 automotive. Shelby’s Mustangs have come a good distance in three years—from adoles­cence to maturity. The ’65 GT 350 was a hot-rodder’s concept of a sports activities automotive—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 facet exhausts had 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 automotive in a world of more and more effeminate girls’ carriages. You drove it brutally and it reacted bru­tally. Each minute at velocity was just like the chariot-racing scene in “Ben Hur.”

Sadly for Shelby, the marketplace for a automotive as bushy as this was restricted. One state’s motorcar bureau complained that the brakes, though just about fade-proof, re­quired an excessive amount of pedal stress. Ap­parently, the inspectors’ leg muscular 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 Company, which purchased 1000 of them and put them into service as the most popular 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 remodeled 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 a substitute 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. Of their stead go fiberglass panels styl­ized by Ford’s Chuck McHose, work­ing in shut cooperation with Shel­by American.

The brand 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 yr’s, now divided by an air-splitter, and it is nonetheless useful. On the rear, the brand new trunk lid and tail piece mix to type a racy-looking aerodynamic spoiler lip. Nobody would say for positive if high-speed assessments had proved the effectivity of this styling gimmick or not-but it appears proper. Lastly, the facet louvres have been changed by scoops-big bushy scoops that poke out into the airstream past the boundary layer. Truly, 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 gentle behind the inside track flashes when the flip alerts are on and glows steadily when the brakes are on. One other pair of funnel scoops are put in on the rear of the sculptured facet panel-this time to blow air on the rear brake drums. A pair of big taillights operating al­most the complete width of the Kamm­impressed tail completes the Shelby look. As an entire, the Shelby Mus­tangs make the common Mustangs look sick.

Beneath, the Koni shock ab­sorbers have given option to much less ex­pensive adjustable Gabriels; the traction bars are gone; the noisy racing differential has lengthy since disappeared; and the Shelby Mus­tang has change into quite a bit much less like a NASCAR stocker with out turning into any much less roadable. The engineering is now constructed into inventory components as a substitute of getting to be included in additional {hardware}. The entrance suspension geometry was decided by Klaus Arning and the identical pc he utilized in organising the suspension of the Ford GT 40 and Shelby’s Cobra II, and the entrance anti-sway bar has been lowered from an nearly­immovable one inch to a extra com­pliant .94 in. The rear leaf springs are actually outfitted with little rubber bumpers known as “hopper stoppers” which can be designed to forestall axle hop below laborious acceleration. Many of the competition-bred racing equip­ment continues to be available-if essential -as choices. Oddly, the rear springs are stiffer this yr ( 135 lbs/in vs. 115 lbs/in in ’66), however the precise journey 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. Leaping from that into the GT 500, probably the most marked distinction was in engine noise, which is virtually non-exist­ent within the 428-engined automotive aside from a motorboating exhaust throb. Our take a look at automotive additionally had an computerized trans­mission (it will likely 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. (Extra about these final two objects later.) All of the viciousness had gone out of the automotive, with none lessening of its animal vitality. It nonetheless reacts positively, however to a a lot lighter contact. The ability brakes, we felt, had 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 automated 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 ability steering is among the many finest we have pushed, partially as a result of it is fast, however largely as a result of we might precise­ly really feel the street via the wooden­rim wheel (normal gear).

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

The acceleration was not all it may 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 obtained one of the best acceleration occasions letting the auto­matic shift by itself at 5100 rpm.

The .74 g braking potential may need been higher if the facility brakes had been extra controllable. Wheel lock­up was laborious to keep away from, and more durable to correct-pedal stress has to drop to near-zero earlier than the locked wheel begins rolling once more. It 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 might 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 automotive to supply a real roll­over bar as normal gear. Not a thicker roof part, however an actual reside roll bar. The shoulder harness is just not normal gear, however just like the GT 500’s computerized transmission, it will likely be tough to get a Shelby Mustang out of the showroom with­out one.

The roll bar itself is a tubular construction, lined with padding, and welded to the chassis. The place it curves up into the roof, tabs poke out, and bolts safe the bar to the automotive’s high 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. One other pair of tabs are welded to the roll bar, and to those are bolted a pair of inertia reels made by Superior Security Gadgets. 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 facet of the seat. A regular lap belt is used along with 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 girls can put on. These gadgets must be seen and felt in motion to be believed. On the danger of encouraging showroom site visitors by curiosity seekers, we would recom­mend that our readers cease by Shel­by American sellers and take a look at the shoulder harnesses. Then, it doesn’t matter what different automotive you might purchase, drop a line to the producer and counsel that he supply shoulder harnesses like this on his vehicles.

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

The air conditioner controls had been complicated in an in any other case properly 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 putting it in an ideal place for easy management.

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

Specs

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