Original Owner Bought a Shelby Mustang GT500KR Twice, 33 Years Apart, Is Now Selling It

1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR 17 photos
1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR
Rare classic cars are not to be passed around, like the cranberry sauce at the family Thanksgiving dinner. Usually, these gems enjoy long-term ownership, and when they change hands, it’s for solid reasons – and it’s not for scoring a high profit. Not that said cars wouldn’t fetch nice figures at a sale, but enjoying one of them is simply beyond financial metrics.
Carroll Shelby shook hands with Ford Motor Company to make the Mustang a proper wild stallion in the act, not just in name, and the Texan had Blue Oval’s requests delivered to them on a plate. The culmination of this collab between the two names was a true masterpiece of performance worthy of a coronation. Enter His Majesty the King of The Road from 1968, the Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR.

The origin of the moniker is a never-ending source of arduous debate between those who back Carroll’s version of the story and the supporters of Tasca Ford. The popular opinion is that Lee Iacocca summoned his Le Mans-winning race mastermind one day and let him in on the news about a Corvette that would be announced under the ‘King of the Road’ surname.

Legend has it that Carroll Shelby had a lawyer investigate the copyright status of the name and even uttered several incentives to have the legal hound work double shifts. Plainly put, the lawyer allegedly responded that he could only come back with an answer the following day, and Shelby immediately countered, ‘If you don’t call me back in an hour, I’ll have another lawyer on the case.’

1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR
Allegedly, the legal wrangler scouted and found the name was free and fair game, so Shelby filled out a trademark application and got the name all for himself. Or so the story goes –some people have heard it from the man himself, told repeatedly. Sounds legit, doesn’t it? Except there was a King of The Road Ford Mustang before the 428- big inch (seven liters) big-block affair and the Cobra Jet-powered Shelby Mustang.

Tasca Ford Sales, Inc., from East Providence, Rhode Island, was a successful Ford dealership in the sixties and a highly respected in the racing business. It was the second-largest Blue Oval dealership on Planet Piston (at least, that’s what Bob Tasca, the owner, claimed). In late 1966, one of Bob Tasca’s technicians took his boss’ personal car out for a drive. It was a 1967 GTA with a 390 and a three-speed auto.

Mistakenly, the driver shifted into first instead of ‘Drive,’ floored it, floated the valves, and blew the engine. Tasca then ordered that a 428 Police Interceptor be fitted in his daily driver. His mechanics tweaked the engine with 406 heads, a 390 GTA cam with hydraulic lifters, a 427-sourced distributor, a higher-flow fuel pump, 427 Fairlane headers, and a Police Interceptor intake with a Holley four-barrel carb.

1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR
Tasca drove to Dearborn to showcase his performance Mustang (which he dubbed KR-8, as in King of the Road 428) to Ford’s top brass. That’s how the Cobra Jet motor came about – FoMoCo engineers pulled out the Tasca engine for inspection and dropped a 427 in the dealer’s car as a replacement.

When Ford announced the Cobra Jet to the world by winning the 1968 Winternationals, the engine became an instant superstar, and Shelby Mustangs had to upgrade. That’s how the GT500 was promoted to ‘King of the Road.’ It has nothing to do with Carroll Shelby, General Motors, or a feud between the two corporations. This is the other version, and it does hold water if we think about it from a bureaucratic perspective.

The Cobra Jet came out in late February 1968. The GT500KR was introduced on  April 1st of the same year – a very short deadline for all involved in getting the new Shelby ready. But that’s just history now, and what’s left behind is that 1,571 GT500KRs were assembled before the end of July 1968. One thousand fifty-three fastbacks and 518 droptops – it goes without even thinking, let alone saying that these one-year-only royalties are very coveted today.

1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR
So much so that one of the fastbacks has made a full-circle comeback to its original owner, and it's now for sale again, but this time at an auction. The short story is this: on October 28, 1968, a Virginia man bought his brand-new King Of The Road from Kimnach Ford in Norfolk, VA.

Nine short years later, the car was sold to a friend who drove it for a couple of months, then had it dismantled and put into storage ‘for an upcoming restoration.’ And there it sat from 1977 to 2010 when the original buyer contacted his friend and returned his car.

Not only that, but he also restored the car to what it looks like now (refer to the photo gallery); on top of that, he is now selling it – and there are six more days left of bidding. The number to beat at the time of this story is $150,000, and be mindful that the tilt steering wheel no longer tilts.

1968 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR
The man’s name is Donnie Green, and he was 19 years old when he became the proud owner of a $4,950 Ford Mustang Cobra Shelby GT500KR. Some ten years ago, in an interview for RPM Magazine, Donnie – who had finished the restoration – openly admitted to the ‘drove it as it was meant to be driven’ mantra regarding his first ownership episode.

Care to guess why he sold the car? He got married and needed money for an air conditioner and a TV set. (I don’t know how things turned out for Mr. and Mrs. Green in the long run, but he got the car back 33 years after selling it.)

The car is a very late assembly example – dating from July 23, 1968, a week before production ceased – and in 2013, the 428 cubic-inch Cobra Jet V8 was rebuilt. It is backed by a four-speed manual and a 3.50 Traction-Lok rear, and the paint was refreshed between 2010 and 2013. Play the videos below to hear it going, with 37,897 miles on the clock (60,976 km). Take a sneak peek at it before you declare a bidding war against everyone else.

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About the author: Razvan Calin
Razvan Calin profile photo

After nearly two decades in news television, Răzvan turned to a different medium. He’s been a field journalist, a TV producer, and a seafarer but found that he feels right at home among petrolheads.
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