Rare Air: The Final Chapter – This November-built 1967 G.T. 500 Shelby Convertible was supposed to be the first of many, except the many never happened
This one-of-one Shelby G.T. 500 convertible, #67413C9A00139, is well known in the Mustang and Shelby world. Mustang #00139 is the only big-block 1967 G.T. convertible ever built by California-based Shelby American, Inc. Mustang Monthly has featured the story of this car once before inside and on the cover of their June 2012 issue, after the initial restoration was completed in 2010 through 2011.
No great story is complete without a twist—or two— and #0139 has certainly carried many rumors, speculation, opinions, controversy, and a bit of mystery over the past five decades. After lots of digging, the convertible’s caretakers Brian and Samantha Styles are only now able to complete the story and explain how only one 1967 G.T. convertible was built. Contrary to previous beliefs, the convertible was never a prototype. It was never intended to be the only one built.
The previous stories and conclusions weren’t necessarily wrong. They were as complete as they could have been based on what was known at the time. Had this story been written during 1980, everyone would have believed Ford didn’t start producing Shelby G.T. convertibles until the 1968 model year. No one had ever seen a 1967 Shelby G.T. convertible before, and without knowing factory production numbers, you would assume none had ever been built. Any claims that such a car existed would have been met with great skepticism, which they were!
As recently as June 2012, when this magazine first published the story of #0139, it was believed the one-off 1967 convertible was a factory prototype or concept car. Therefore, Shelby American intended to build just one. Other previous assumptions include:
• The Mustang convertible was shipped to Shelby American as a complete car, i.e. not with the same parts deleted as with the rest of the cars ordered by Shelby.
• This G.T. 500 and other very early G.T. 500 cars were actually built with S-code 390 engines.
• Shelby American swapped the 390s for 428 engines and added the dual four-barrel carburetors to the big-block cars.
• The 1967 G.T. convertible never wore the 1967-styled Shelby fiberglass.
• A convertible body Shelby wasn’t planned until 1968.
• Shelby American was responsible for designing the 1968 Shelby G.T.
• This convertible was used as a mule for that 1968 design work and Shelby American was responsible for sculpting the prototype 1968-styled fiberglass.
• Because the convertible was a prototype, it should have been crushed according to the standard Ford policy that ensured experimental vehicles never became a liability on public roads.
Nobody currently disputes that #0139 began life as a 1967 Mustang convertible, was ordered on August 11, 1966, built November 21, 1966, at Ford’s San Jose assembly plant, released to Shelby on November 25, and received VIN #67413C9A00139 when Shelby American completed the car on December 7, 1966. It is also widely acknowledged this convertible was the car pictured in all the 1968 ads and sales literature. However, after an additional five years of research, though, it turns out those other assumptions were simply incorrect.
“The car’s previous owner, Jamie Ventrella, is the person responsible for figuring out what the car was,” the Styles says. “No one believed him at the time, but his contribution is perhaps the most important.”
During 1977, Jaime bought what he thought was a 1968 Shelby G.T. 500 convertible from D. Neil Osbjornson in the Chicago suburbs. As he became more familiar with the car, Jaime began to notice many early 1967 oddities throughout the car and, despite its outer appearance, began to speculate the convertible was actually a 1967 model. After years of being stonewalled by SAAC, a frustrated Jaime eventually sold the car to a friend, Richard Kot. Under Richard’s ownership, SAAC gained access to the Shelby American archives with its Ford VIN information and was finally able to authenticate the convertible as a 1967 model. There was only one on record.
Once authenticated, the next question became “why was only one built?” It was assumed the convertible was a prototype. It certainly made sense at the time lacking additional information. How else could you possibly justify the existence of a one-off if it wasn’t a prototype?
But after years of research and deep digging, the Styles’ have discovered the car did indeed wear the parts of a 1967 Shelby. It was the first of a planned run of Shelby convertibles for the 1967 1/2 year. “It was intended to be the first of many, but the many never happened,” Brian Styles says. (See the internal Ford meeting notes Brian dug up in the online sidebar “Insider Documents Found” in which they discuss this fact in the online version of this story on Mustang-360.com.) This fact, in addition to many more make it rare and significant to the Mustang world. He considers this convertible to be the rarest assembly line-built Mustang on earth. All his research has also shed more light on the true state of affairs between Shelby American and Ford Motor Company in late-1966 through early-1967, which led to the Ford Motor Company’s decision to terminate the California-based Shelby Program and give the future business to A.O. Smith in Ionia, Michigan. (More on that later.) for full photo gallery please click next page
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