The relationship between the Ford Motor Company and Carroll Shelby spans numerous wins on the race track, scores of wild car designs, and thousands of automobiles. Today, these cars are some of the most well-known, desirable, and expensive in the motoring world. Some models, however, were so short-lived, avant-garde, and produced in such limited numbers that not many people remember, or are even aware of, their existence. Enter the 1970 Shelby Mustang GT500.
Everyone, for instance, knows the classic 1965 Mustang and its Shelby variant the GT350 which dominated SCCA racing in the 60's. Dressed in Wimbledon White with LeMans blue racing stripes and thoroughly blessed with a 289 under the hood, there's no mistaking it.
And then there's the movie star - the 1967 Shelby GT500. Made famous by the remake of the 70's cult film, Gone in 60 Seconds, in 2000 starring Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie, no one will ever forget Eleanor. Designed and built by Steve Sanford, Eleanor appeared in pepper-gray with black racing stripes and spawned countless recreation, continuation, and commemorative edition cars. Check her out below.
But the 1970 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 fell off of everyone's radar, and it's a shame really because it's a beautiful car. Rather than the previous generation Shelby which was based on the 1967-8 Mustang, the 1969 and 70 models were built on the 1969 Mustang. By this time production had shifted entirely to Ford plants in Michigan away from Shelby's California operations. And what's more, Ford had taken over the design work and in the middle of the 1969 model year Ford and Shelby had cut ties leaving the Shelby Mustang to die stillborn.
Whatever cars were left on the lot were sold as 1969 models or turned into 1970 Shelby Mustangs. That's right, technically there are no 1970 Shelby Mustangs; they are all re-badged 1969 models. The changes required new VIN numbers, re-tagging carburetor codes, new distributors, and, the only real cosmetic change, two prominent racing stripes down the hood over the NACA ducts. Production numbers for 1970 Shelbys run about 500 units for the GT350 model and about half that for the big-block GT500 model. That's quite a rare stead!
The lines of the 1969 Mustang Sportsroof are immediately evident in the Shelby GT500 and part of the reason for the car's good looks. With Thunderbird rear-lights, fastback shape, rear-window louvers, Shelby logos, and twin exhaust pipe exits just below the gas cap - not a good idea! - it's design, while portly compared to earlier Shelbys, is sleek, mean, and purposeful.
Under the hood sits a 428 CobraJet engine with a choice of C-6 automatic or 4-speed toploader transmissions. Out back is the Ford 9-inch rearend with disc brakes up front. Sway bars front and rear help to corral this lone pony. So while it might not have the name recognition or allure of a 1965 or 67' car it is a looker, isn't it? Buckle up.