Ford Authority

First Shelby GT500 Prototype Found By Barrett-Jackson Chairman

An experimental Ford Mustang modified by Carroll Shelby and his crew, which served as the blueprint for every 1967 Shelby GT500 to follow, has been found after decades of living in obscurity. The car, nicknamed “Little Red”, has come to reside in the hands of Barrett-Jackson Auctions Chairman Craig Jackson after spending more than 20 years under a tree on a Texas ranch, although the specifics of how it came to be there are a bit fuzzy. All that’s known is that it started life as a 1967 Ford Mustang from Ford’s San Jose plant with a 428 V8 under the hood, and that somehow or another, it fell completely off the map after serving as a test mule for the Shelby GT500.

“Little Red” was for years believed to have been crushed in the early 1970s, after Carroll Shelby had spent some time holding onto the experimental car. Instead, though, it made its way from Detroit to a Ford dealership in Colorado, before being sold and subsequently having its engine stolen. That’s when its owner, fed up with an undeniably bad ownership experience, deposited it on a relative’s farm in Texas.

Rumor has it that, during the experimentation phase, this Shelby GT500 test mule had such exotic equipment under its hood as supercharged and twin-turbocharged engines. But that claim is a little harder to substantiate than another prominent one: that Ford’s then-President Lee Iacocca was so taken with “Little Red” that he used the car for inspiration for the first Ford Mustang California Special.

Craig Jackson unveiled the experimental Shelby GT500 at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn on Friday, during the Woodward Dream Cruise, and simultaneously asked for the public’s help in uncovering more of the car’s obscure history.

“That’s why it’s so important to do this in Detroit,” he said “The car spent time here after Ford bought Shelby. There have to be people here with photos and information.”

(Source: Detroit Free Press)

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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