335 hp, 428 cu. in. “Cobra Jet” V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission, power-assisted re-circulating ball steering, power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes, coil spring front suspension, rear leaf springs with live axle. Wheelbase: 108"
• Three documented owners from new, with only 27,600 original miles
• Originally built as a “Brass Hat” car
• Of 318 GT500KR convertibles produced for 1968, one of about 33 with factory air conditioning and four-speed manual transmission combination
• Deluxe Marti Report confirming matching numbers and all factory options
• Listed in the Shelby Registry
Sometimes when “enough isn’t quite enough,” the temptation for more is irresistible. Such was the case with the GT500KR. In a bit of one-upmanship, Shelby failed to resist the temptation of offering a bigger, “big-block” pony car. When Ford offered its 390 cid V-8 for 1967 in the Mustang, Shelby countered by making available Dearborn’s new Cobra-Jet 428 cid engine, dubbing the car the GT500. Buyers responded, favoring the big-block to the small-block Shelbys two to one. The formula was repeated for 1968 with more aggressive styling, more scoops, the Cougar’s sequential turn signals and a convertible model available for the first time.
Midway through the 1968 model year, Shelby introduced the GT500KR. Quite simply, the “KR” suffix stood for King of the Road, both appropriate and with, admittedly, more than a little arrogance on the part of Ford Motor Company. The latest Shelby was fitted with Ford’s hottest version of the 428 cid Cobra-Jet V-8. Beginning with the existing 428 block, many important improvements were necessary for the transformation to the Shelby Cobra Jet. Ford added new cylinder heads with rectangular intake and exhaust ports (even larger than those used on the 427 Le Mans and factory drag-race engines). The block was cast of higher-grade nodular iron, similar to that used on its 427 racing engines. Pistons were made of alloy and connecting rods from high strength steel, and two different cam options were made available: one for street, the other for drag racing. Ford advertised 335 hp, though estimates put the number closer to 400 hp.
The performance was noteworthy as Hot Rod Magazine tested a GT500KR fastback smoking the quarter-mile in 14.01 seconds at 102.73 mph. Car Life was not so fortunate, as the car they were to test was stolen and later recovered by the LAPD in no shape for evaluation! With a note of humor, Car Life’s writer Allan Girdler titled his headline, “Shelby’s Cobra GT500KR – Was it Worth Stealing?” Girdler went on to say, “The KR’s invincibility doesn’t matter. The car is so impressive, so intimidating to challengers, that there are no challengers. The KR breeds confidence bordering on arrogance. The KR driver coasts along, mighty engine rumbling, and looks with a condescending smile on the driver of a lesser car who creeps away from the lights, knuckles white on the steering wheel.”
Shelby volume peaked for 1968, though the new convertible with a hefty base price of $4,594 limited production to just 318 units. This beautiful example is the beneficiary of a comprehensive rotisserie restoration completed in 2005, following which it received the “Best Original Restored” trophy at the Shelby Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It comes complete with copies of previous titles as well as a Deluxe Marti Report and original build sheet confirming its matching-numbers status and original options. It carries #272c in the Shelby Registry. Having just three documented owners from new, it was scheduled to be built at Ford’s Metuchen, New Jersey assembly plant on May 20, 1968, while actually produced three days later on May 23. The original title indicates it remained in the possession of Ford Motor Company. Known as a “Brass Hat” car, it is believed that it was actually used by a FoMoCo executive in Carrollton, Texas until June 1969 when its first owner took possession on June 30, 1969 in Lawton, Oklahoma. It remained there until being purchased by the second owner in October 1990, moving to Kansas City.
Painted a classic Shelby Wimbledon White with matching white convertible top and contrasting black interior, it is one of only about 33 Shelby convertibles equipped with both factory air conditioning and a four-speed manual transmission. It is nicely equipped with power steering and front disc brakes, tilt-away steering column, AM radio, tinted glass and power top, as well as GT equipment, visibility and interior décor option groups. Believed to have been driven just 27,600 miles from new, it simply does not get much better than this in the world of rarified, unique and interesting American muscle cars.