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1968 SHELBY GT-350, GT-500, and GT-500KR

 CARS > MUSCLE CARS > 1968 SHELBY GT-350, GT-500, and GT-500KR

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Muscle Cars

GTO 1964-1967

Shelby Mustang

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King of the Road

Several changes in Ford's engine offerings affected the 1968 Shelby. The discontinuation of the stalwart 271 hp 289ci Hi-Po (which Shelby had coaxed to the 306hp level) meant that GT-350s received a four-barrel 302ci engine. The engineers had hoped to start the year with a cast-aluminum intake manifold, but encountered trouble in passing emissions tests. The early cars received cast-iron manifolds; they were later recalled to be refitted, though many owners neglected to take part in the swap program. Rated at 250hp, the engine marked a performance reduction out of keeping with the Shelby image. The 428ci engines that had powered the previous year's GT-500s were continued in that line. Their high-rise aluminum intake manifolds were matched with 715cfm Holley carburetors, and were rated at 335hp. Top loader four-speed close-ratio transmissions were used with both engines, while C-4 automatics went to GT-350s and C-6 automatics were installed in big-block cars.

The most remarkable (and most easily promoted) engine change came after the model year was two-thirds gone: Ford introduced, in the highly touted 1968 V2 Mustang Cobra Jet GT and the Shelby "King of the Road," a wonderfully reworked version of the 428 engine. The cars were launched into the realm of straight-line wildness. The Cobra Jet included revised 427 low-riser heads with expanded porting, stronger connecting rods and crankshaft, a dual-plane intake manifold, the 735cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor, and a Ram Air intake setup. Additionally, the Cobra Jets received heavy-duty front and rear shocks (four-speed cars got staggered rear shocks), front power disc brakes, power steering, and larger-capacity rear drum brakes.

It is said that the name "King of the Road" (which led to the GT-500KR designation for the late 1968 big-block Shelbys) was slated for a General Motors product. Ford got wind of the rumor, and swiped the name outright.

Oddly, Ford elected to go low-key on promoting the increased power of the Cobra Jet. Perhaps to escape the wrath of the safety-minded public and the insurance industry, the company downscaled the Cobra Jet engine horsepower rating by about twenty percent. The claim of 335hp simply wasn't correct.

The true tip-off to the nature of the 1968 Shelby could be found in the Deluxe Mustang interior: its center console with the Cobra-embossed padded armrest and mini glovebox. Woodgrain appliques appeared on the inner door panels and dash area, but, fortunately, the oil-pressure and ammeter gauges remained, as well as the 8000rpm tachometer.

Beneath those luxury touches could be found the progressive-rate suspension used in 1967, a less-harsh ride for smoother road travel. Power brakes, power steering, shoulder harnesses, and the Fastback fold^ down rear seat were mandatory options, and the Tilt-Away steering wheel was also available.

Exterior trim changed slightly in transition from 1967. The nose section was reshaped, and hoods received a wider split scoop closer to the nose, twist-type latches, and two rows of louvers near the cowl, which Shelby referred to as air extractor vents. The small rectangular front fender emblems were replaced by sculpted Cobra emblems. For a similar yet flashier look, the 1967 Cougar taillights of the 1967 Shelbys gave way to 1965 Thunderbird units with a more substantial chrome frame and five vertical chrome "teeth." The rear turn signals had sequential blinkers (except in California). These taillights would carry over to the 1969 and 1970 Shelbys as well.

As on the 1968 Mustangs, the front and rear fenders had safety reflectors near the bumper tips; the appearance of the rear reflector changed slightly during the model year. Once again, a steel 15x6 wheel was standard equipment, with a generic Ford wheelcover and Shelby logo center ornament. The Shelby cast-aluminum 15x7 ten-spoke wheels introduced in 1967 were optional for 1968.

At the beginning of the model year, Marchal 656/322 foglights were mounted in the lower outboard corners of the grille. These were highly rated French lamps that had been used on several European cars, including several versions of Ferraris. During the production year, due to fluctuations in international currency values, the Marchal lamps became markedly more expensive for Shelby.

Because of both price and their cleaner appearance, Lucas FT8 "Square Eight" foglamps were chosen to replace the Marchals. According to Paul M. Newitt's excellent California Special Recognition Guide and Owner's Manual, the Lucas lights, after April 26, 1968, were installed by A. 0. Smith Company on all new Shelbys and Mustang California Specials. Later, in October 1968, California ruled that the Marchals were too bright to be used safely on the highway. In response, Shelby issued a recall for the retrofit of Lucas lights for early 1968 Shelbys.

Overall, the 1968 Shelby represented a nod toward performance and a salute toward powerful highway cruising. Again, the public responded and, again, sales figures climbed. Still many steps above a standard Mustang, the Shelby offered a mixed message to enthusiasts. As Motor Trend pointed out in March 1968, "The 'establishment' has had its impact on Shelby American, and they've succumbed and resisted. Styling reflects the adoption of the 'great' philosophy, but performance and safety still are Shelby's own exclusives."

 


 
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1968 SHELBY GT-350, GT-500, and GT-500KR

 CARS > MUSCLE CARS > 1968 SHELBY GT-350, GT-500, and GT-500KR


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TITLE: Muscle Car Used Car History Vehicle History Report at Auto Lemon - Used Car History Check

Cars Directory : Auto, Automobile, Automotive, Car, Cars, Vehicle, Vehicles, Used Cars, New Cars, Used Car, New Car Price

Site Description: Car Consumer Reports and Consumer Guide on automobile, brake, buying car, car care, car cost, car safety, cooling system, drivetrain, electrical, exhaust, emission, fluid check, fuel system, ignition system, lubrication system, suspension and steering. Offers Free VIN Check, VIN Check

Cars Topics: car consumer reports on automobile, brake, buying car, car care, car cost, car safety, cooling system, drivetrain, electrical, exhaust, emission, fluid check, fuel system, ignition system, lubrication system, suspension and steering.