One 1968 Mustang GT500 Asks Ridiculous Six Figures for a Car That Doesn't Even Have a Roof

1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR 12 photos
1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR
In early 1968, Ford made dragstrip headlines when the new 428 Cobra Jet stormed the NHRA Winternationals and won the company’s first-ever Super Stock Eliminator title. ‘Win in February, sell a Shelby Mustang GT500 King of the Road in May’ is the perfect take-off from the long-standing mantra of ‘Win of Sunday, Sell on Monday.’ The one-year-only GT500 KR is the most coveted ‘regular’ Shelby Mustang of all time and for good reasons.
After the initial shockwave of the drag race triumph eased out, the buying public was ready to acclaim the new Ford engine that promised a HEMI-tailpipe-whoopin’ of big-block V8 proportions. The Cobra Jet motor was the bluntest in-your-face corporate lie in the history of Ford, for all the good reasons.

Official power ratings ranked the NHRA supreme dominator (remember that four of the six cars enlisted in the Winternationals made it to the finals) at 335 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque (340 PS, 597 Nm). But the reality was that the new V8 made around or north of 400 hp (some sources even cite 430 ponies), which made a lot more sense.

Otherwise, why would Ford bother promoting an engine behind the 428 Police Interceptor? And, critically, why would Carroll Shelby hail it as the King of the Road in his GT500 applications? The car was a street performer that bowed to no one, as one former owner of a GT500 KR remembered during an online discussion among fellow hot-headed car nuts.

‘Twenty-one years old, just back from Vietnam (1970), and bought a ’68 500KR 400 hp, 4-spd with a 3.90 rear end for $2.000. In Detroit, we went 427 F.I. ‘Vette hunting on Telegraph every Saturday night. The loser was usually the one who screwed up the shifting. That was one fast car. Ate Tri-Power GTOs and SS Chevelles for lunch.’ Comments, anyone? (Drop them below, especially if you have similar stories to share).

1968 Ford Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500 KR
1,571 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT 500s made in 1968 received the mid-year addition of the new Cobra Jet V8 (hence the ‘Cobra’ in the mouthful moniker), and Shelby added the ‘KR’ seal of aristocracy. Out of that limited batch, 518 came without a metal roof – another 1968 premiere, after the powerplant itself – placing existing examples among today's car collectors' treasure trove holy grails.

One of those elusive machines is a one-of-three GT500 King of the Road built on May 2, 1968. The color combination of Wimbledon White body, saddle interior, and white top make it so rare – not that a convertible ’68 GT 500 KR would have been commonplace. The car has a three-speed automatic transmission, Ford’s fabled C6 Select-O-Matic three-speed, mated to a 3.50 Traction-Lok rear.

Shelby Automotive charged $4,967.90 for the car, with $373 in options added to the base $4,596.09. The buyer checked the power steering, power brakes with front discs, shoulder harnesses, the push-button AM radio, and the tilt-pop steering on top of the automatic gearbox.

Over the past 56 years, the value of a rag-top GT500 KR has risen far above its purchasing-power-adjusted sticker price (which stands at $44,028.30 at the February 2024 equivalent). The car is offered for sale in Spokane, WA, and asks for a $299,000 premium, coming from an extensive restoration and engine rebuild.

The mileage is not disclosed, and the photos don’t help too much with that detail – take a look for yourself – but the selling dealer notes that the mighty 428 Cobra Jet has been ‘lightly run to preserve its pristine condition.’
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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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