Chassis number: 9F03R483249
- 360 horsepower, 428-ci Cobra Jet Ram Air V8 engine with twin Holley 4-barrel carburetors
- Ford C-6 3-speed automatic transmission
- Independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms, coil springs and an anti-roll bar
- Live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and staggered shock absorbers
- Power front disc and rear drum hydraulic brakes
- Wheelbase: 108 inches
- One of just 75 GT500 convertibles finished in Grabber Yellow
- Documented by a Marti Report, original invoice and order form
- Beautifully restored and perfect for MCA and SCCA events
|Vehicle:||1969 Shelby GT500 Convertible|
|Original List Price:||$5,027|
|Tune Up Cost:||$300|
|Chassis Number Location:||Driver’s side door tag|
|Engine Number Location:||Pad on the back of the block on the driver’s side|
|Club Info:||Shelby American Automobile Club|
|Alternatives:||1969–70 Shelby GT350 convertible, 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 convertible, 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger convertible|
This car, Lot 153, sold for $280,500, with buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions’ Sam Pack Collection sale on November 14–15 in Dallas, TX.
The 1969/1970 Shelby GT500 needs little introduction, and nearly every classic car collector on the planet is well versed in the cars. RM scripted wonderful prose about the history of the GT500 series — and our subject car, which was introduced with the 1967 model year.
By 1967, Carroll Shelby had a great track record with the Shelby Mustangs. The 1965 and 1966 GT350 models had done well in the showroom, but buyers were yearning for more power and more creature comforts to help make the car more palatable for everyday street use.
With that, Shelby American introduced the GT500 model, which ratcheted up the cubic inches to 428 and added an additional 49 horsepower to the configuration. Enthusiasts jumped on the muscular car, and the GT500 outsold the GT350 at nearly two to one. The GT500 was certainly here to stay.
Still, the one Shelby Mustang that was missing from the lineup was a drop-top edition. In 1967, Shelby experimented with a convertible model and built one prototype GT500. That was enough to prime the pump, and by the 1968 model year, buyers could now check the box for a convertible GT350 or GT500. Sales for the new-for-1968 Shelby Mustang convertible soared to 1,124 for all variants of the wind-in-your-hair model, including the new GT500 KR.
Big brother takes over
1968 was a pivotal year for the Shelby Mustang. Production moved from Shelby American to A.O. Smith based in Ionia, MI, as Ford took the lead role in the manufacturing of the car. Still, sales were brisk, with 4,451 total Shelby Mustangs sold (coupes and convertibles). The future still remained bright, as three models could now be ordered — and any of those could be had in the convertible configuration.
Bigger engines, more power
By 1969, the muscle and pony car revolution was perhaps at the height of the horsepower race. Huge, very powerful engines were dropped into relatively light cars, and the big three were all in the race. Chevrolet was building L88 Corvettes, Chrysler was dominating the tracks with Hemi muscle and Ford was building heavy-breathing 429s and directing Kar Kraft to cram them into the new Mustang sportsroof as the Boss 429.
Blue Oval management knew that the Shelby was shaky-pen expensive, so, beginning in 1969, Ford offered buyers more economical choices. The new Mach 1 was hitting the streets with a variety of engine choices, shaker hoods and plenty of performance goodies. That selection shifted buyers further away from the Shelby, and sales began to wane.
At the end of the 1969 model year, Shelby Mustangs had to be carried over to 1970 just to dispatch the remaining inventory. It marked the end of the Shelby Mustang years. Only 1,153 1969–70 Shelbys would be sold — with some at deep discounts just to move them off the dealer lots.
Lousy 1969 sales means rarity today
Like most of the rare muscle in the market today, the dynamics of value are related to various issues that presented themselves 40-plus years ago. Of course, back then, no one paid much attention to these factors.
Cars that became enormously expensive via option choices meant very few guys ordered them. Those cars are rare today. That doesn’t make them all valuable, but it does when you’re talking about one with a Shelby badge on it and a 428 under the hood.
Only 335 built
The Shelby/Ford partnership managed to offload 335 GT500 convertibles in the 1969/1970 model year. Naturally, some of the 335 built have met their demise via a missed swift turn, getting T-boned in an intersection or succumbing to the tin worm.
So, the number of survivors is not huge, which adds further rarity to those that have survived.
Our subject car is one of the 335 built. It’s also a handsome car and very well optioned. The rarity continues as one of only 75 GT500 convertibles built in the eye-popping Grabber Yellow. Documentation with our subject car includes the obligatory Marti Report but also includes the original invoice and order form.
The car presented extremely well, and it is probably one of the better examples you’ll encounter. It was reported to be lacking in a few small areas, but nothing that detracted from the overall presentation. Adding to that, a fastidious private collector who took a great deal of pride in maintaining his collection to the highest standards offered the car.
Private-collection or single-source sales, such as the Sam Pack Collection, have a long track record of producing excellent results.
Savvy buyers target these sales — especially when the cars on tap are well detailed, properly maintained, nicely documented and ready to be transported to another collector’s toy box. It’s a no-brainer since the cars are already vetted for the buyers. There’s an assumption, and rightfully so, that the cars are in a league of their own, as the collector, Sam Pack in this case, didn’t casually spend his money hazardously on inferior cars. That certainly was the case with our subject car.
We also saw this happen at RM Auctions’ Milton Robson Collection sale in 2010, where an exceptional 4-speed 1970 Shelby GT500 convertible sold at $368,500.
Reading the 1969/1970 GT500 tea leaves
According to the SCM Platinum Auction Database, 1969 GT500 convertibles now trade in the $115,000 to $175,000 range. These are for well-sorted cars in very nice condition. The SCM Pocket Price Guide places them at $117,500 to $160,000 for a well-presented #2 car. Other price guides are a bit more generous, with values in the low $200k range for a great car.
I spoke with Donnie Gould, car specialist at RM and president of Auctions America, about this car and its sale price.
“In my opinion, and I’m an avid Shelby guy, these are $300,000 cars when you find them in this condition,” Gould said. “I’ve always felt the cars have been undervalued. They only built 335 of them, and they are great road cars and they are finally getting the recognition they deserve — and the valuation that goes along with that.”
While it’s too early to call this the new market for a very nice GT500 convertible, it may suggest a wake-up call is in order.
If you’re a guy with one in your garage, I’d be cautious about tossing it into the sales arena unless you’re committed to letting it go, as this sale may be an anomaly. If you bought one as an investment some time ago, your capital gains filing might be one auction away.
Let’s see if a few more come out to play and how much they bring. As it stands now, I’d call this one well sold — but the new owner bought one of the best out there, and that’s something that will likely make the price paid seem fair in the long run. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.)