Name: 1968 Shelby GT-500KR Fastback
Year(s) Produced: 1967-1968
Number Built: 1,570
Class: Pony car, muscle car
Body Type: 2-door fastback coupe
Engine: Ford FE-series V-8 428 Cobra-Jet
Power: 335hp @ 5600 RPM
0-60mph: 5.8 seconds
Top Speed: 131 mph
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Length/width/height: 186.6 in./70.9 in./ 51.4 in.
Wheelbase: 108 in.
Base Price: US$4,500 (NADA)
Current Price: US$184,000 (Hagerty)
Almost 50 years ago, at the 1967 New York Auto Show, Ford introduced the most powerful Mustang ever. The 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500 was already enjoying the status of being one of the most popular cars at that time. Imbued with appealing affordability, undeniably attractive body styles (convertible and fastback versions) and a selection of inline-six and V-8 engines, Ford’s latest offering was an instant success. Though the arrival of this newest Shelby Mustang won the hearts of many, Ford and Carroll Shelby knew that they can raise the bar even higher. They knew the potential that their newest pony has, given the right opportunity to further enhance its innards. This opportunity arrived in April of 1968 when a latest version of the 428 Police Interceptor engine, with improved breathing heads and larger exhaust manifolds, were planted under the GT500 fiber glass hood placing the Mustang once more at the head of the pack.
Named as the 428 Cobra Jet, this monster engine quickly found its way into the Shelby GT500’s production line giving birth to was is now known as the GT500KR or “King of the Road”. The name itself was probably spurred by the victory that the Ford’s FE engine enjoyed over Ferrari at the famous French endurance race Le Mans back-to-back in 1966 and 1967. Ford flaunted this by proudly stamping the KR’s die-cast aluminium valve covers with “Cobra Lemans”. Being ‘King of the Road’ is definitely not just a name since the GT500KR belts out 335 horsepower – an already outstanding figure during that time. This is somehow underrated though, since the GT500KR can kick in as much as 400 hp and 440 pound-feet of torque.
Unfortunately, the nameplate was short-lived and was discontinued for the next year’s model. This came only a few months before Carroll Shelby called it quits with Ford, the former terminating their lucrative contract. However, things are sweeter the second time around when the moniker returned exactly 40 years later with the introduction of the fifth-generation Mustang. The King of the Road is back this time as muscle car with a mean 540 ponies under its hood, powered by a 5.4 liter V-8 engine. Even with completion coming from the likes of Chevy’s Camaro and their Z/28s, the first-generation GT500KR is as formidable as it’s always been. And among muscle-car experts and collectors alike, the King of the Road will remain royalty both in its stature and value.
UPDATE: A black-on-black, 1968 Shelby GT-500KR Fastback will hit the auction hammer on March at a Mecum’s Kansas City auction. There has been no pre-sale estimate yet but valuation expert and classic car insurer Hagerty sets a value of US$146,000-184,000 in good to excellent condition.