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One-of-One 1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible Sells for Record Price

The Carroll Shelby-Ford saga began in 1962 when the former race car driver installed V8 engines in the AC Ace. Carroll also helped Ford design the Le Mans-winning GT40. More importantly, the collaboration spawned a series of beefed-up Mustangs that are now iconic and sought-after collectibles.
1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible 15 photos
Photo: Mecum Auctions (modified)
1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible1970 Shelby Mustang GT500 Convertible
The Shelby GT350 was the first to hit showrooms in 1965, less than a year after the Mustang entered production. The lightweight, track-spec pony was followed in 1967 by the GT500. Unlike the GT350, the GT500 was a fully-fledged muscle car fitted with a big-block V8. The engine in question, a 428-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) FE rated 355 horsepower, turned the GT500 into the most potent Mustang available at the time.

The nameplate was also short-lived. Carroll ended his collaboration with Ford in the Summer of 1969, and the GT500 went into the history books until it was revived in 2005. When that happened, Ford had built only 5,464 units.

Exactly 2,050 left the assembly line in 1967. All but two of them (a convertible and a coupe) were fastback models. 1968 saw 1,542 cars hit showrooms. This time around, Ford offered a production drop-top that was favored by 402 customers. In 1969, Ford put together 1,872 examples before Carroll Shelby cut off the deal.

Although the GT500 found its way into showrooms in 1970, no vehicles were actually built that model year. Ford sold examples that didn't find owners in 1969. The cars got 1970 VINs and a few cosmetic changes, including a front chin spoiler and twin black hood stripes. Everything else remained unchanged from 1969 when the GT500 and GT350 looked notably different than the regular Ford Mustang.

According to Mustang historians, only 286 GT500 were sold as 1970 models, which makes this model year the rarest for this Shelby nameplate. There are no records as to how many were convertibles, but the number is likely much lower than 40 units. The red example you see here is one of them and just went under the hammer for more than a quarter-million bucks.

What makes it so valuable? Well, for starters, what you see is the result of a rotisserie restoration. This car looks spotless inside and out, and it's highly original. It comes with solid documentation, and it's part of the Shelby Registry. And like any sought-after Ford, it has a Deluxe Marti Report.

The latter proves that the GT500 is a highly optioned-up rig and uncovers that this Shelby is a one-of-one gem. And it's not just the color-equipment combo that makes it unique. This GT500 also features the Super Cobra Jet Drag Pack bundle, a rare sight on this model regardless of the model year.

The package added an engine oil cooler, upgraded crankshaft and flywheel, and a traction-lock differential, which made the car more suitable for the drag strip. It also turned a Cobra Jet into a Super Cobra Jet.

All of the above prompted Shelby Mustang enthusiasts who attended Mecum's Kansas City 2023 auction to bid beyond the GT500's $200,000 reserve. The hammer fell at $260,000 ($286,000 including fees), a record for a 1970-model-year Shelby.

As of this writing, the muscle car is also the second most expensive vehicle from the event, surpassed only by a 2005 Ford GT that got $429,000. The classic fetched more than a 2022 Ford Shelby GT500H ($220,000) and a 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 ($214,500). Watch the drama unfold in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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