As history has it, Shelby and Ford had been growing distant from one another a few years before the summer of ’69, with the Detroit company gradually taking over the Shelby Mustang project. Hardcore gearheads don’t even consider the ’69 Mustang a ‘Shelby’ Shelby, but a ‘Ford’ Shelby. Strictly to the point, the cars were built by Shelby Automotive – the fender tags claimed that descendency – but Carroll’s input was pretty much limited to the badging by the time the last of the first-generation cars came about.
Although several hundred Shelby Mustangs received 1970 VINs – courtesy of the feds – they were simply left-over ‘69s with updated tags and papers. So, the 1969 Shelby Mustang could be considered the swansong of this short-lived love affair between two of the greatest names in the history of automotive (America).
Once in a while, one such unicorn of a Mustang comes out of a decade-old hibernation in a secluded den in some garage, where it went to wait for a repair that never came. This is the story of a Competition Red G.T. 500 built on May 20, 1969, that served its original owner well until one day in the late 80s.
The scenario might seem very familiar to many gearheads – car is bought new, car is driven, car is enjoyed, car breaks down, car is put into storage for ‘later,’ then life happens. In 2013, with other priorities to sort out, the owning family decided to sell the Shelby.
The sale was closed at the end of January 2013, and it took the buyer around a year and a half to get the car back on the road. ‘We ended up pulling the motor out of the car and a complete stock rebuild,’ said the new and overly happy owner about his road-worthy 1969 Shelby Mustang G.T. 500.
He enjoyed the car for nine years but added only 939 (1,511 kilometers) miles on the clock between 2014 – when he finally got it back on the road - and 2022 – when he put it up for sale. This is where a retired dude steps in. Literally, the auction website username of this car’s latest owner is RetiredDude (his real name is Doug Newhouse). Apparently, all he had to do was place one bid (of $87,427) to secure the buy.
The standard gearing for the Shelby-badged Mustang G.T 500s was the 3.50, with optional 3.91 or 4.30. However, this particular example also has the air conditioning package, which required the lower axle to compensate for the power drain caused by the air-cooling unit.
The 69s and 70s are immediately distinguishable by the elongated front end that didn’t resemble the standard Ford Mustang anymore. The fiberglass hood sported five NACA air ducts, and the overall car was four inches longer than the Ford it was based on. But the Shelby tradition wasn’t established on looks and creature comfort.
Mustang (and Shelby) fans take great pride in the Cobra Jet’s performance on its maiden trial, with the Stock Class win (the final was a two-CJ Mustang affair) and the Super Stock Eliminator triumph over a race-HEMI Mopar. To temper the spirits a bit, please note that the 426-equipped Plymouth lost because the driver jumped the gas pedal and red-lighted, and not strictly for Ford's merits alone.
Nonetheless, the 428 CID Ford engine was no garden snail, with quarter-mile sprints of high 13s and trap speeds around 103 mph (166 kph). Whether or not that performance is still left in this old Mustang we see in the video is irrelevant now. The driver (and owner) doesn’t shy away from occasionally planting his foot on the loud pedal.
This Mustang has come a long way from its 25-year retirement (see photos of its state after that prolonged storage) to the restoration from ten years ago, and finally, to the head-turning demeanor it has once again. Equipped to induce drivability and comfort rather than sheer rubber-sublimating fun, this example sports power steering, power front disc brakes, a tilt-away steering column, and a Sport Deck rear seat. The 8-track cassette player was a dealer-installed option, so it’s not listed in the Marti report included in the gallery.
The winning auction bid has generated some debate on the website – some say it’s a steal, and they’re backed by other sales of 69 Shelby Mustangs that go deep into six figures. On the other hand, classic survivors (like this '69 Boss 429) have been going through the roof recently, especially those with the badge of rarity strapped to their names.