With Ford's updated Mustang for 1967 and its revised body shell which included an engine bay capable of accommodating the 390 big-block engine, Shelby American took full advantage by installing the more powerful 428 Interceptor V-8 to create the GT500. With 360 horsepower, the GT500 was extremely quick, but more was needed to counter Chrysler's factory-backed Hemi cars and Chevrolet's big-block cars on the dragstrip.
At the suggestion of Hot Rod Editor Eric Dahlquist and with input from Rhode Island's Tasca Ford, Ford responded with the 428 Cobra Jet that featured stronger internals, low-riser 427 heads, larger valves and combustion chambers, a nodular crank, stronger connecting rods, dished pistons, high rise aluminum intake manifold, and a 735 CFM Holley double pump carburetor. In hopes of pleasing the insurance companies and manipulating the NHRA's Super Stock factoring system, the CJ engine was factory-rated at 335 horsepower. Ford showcased its new powerplant in 1968 at the Winternationals, where a six-car Cobra Jet assault was unleashed resulting in an all-CJ SS/E final round with Al Joniec taking the class win and beating Chrysler's Dave Wren for Super Stock Eliminator.
With the engine's potential proven, Shelby installed it in his Mustangs for 1968 creating the Cobra Jet-powered GT500 KR (King of the Road). The valve covers on the GT500 KR read 'Cobra Le Mans,' referencing the Cobra Jet's success over Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967. The 'King of the Road' name was a jab at Chevrolet who was planning on introducing a special Corvette with the same name. After a quick search, Shelby found that 'King of the Road' had not yet been copyrighted. Decal makers at 3M were called in that very day to come up with GT500 KR striping. Photos were taken, papers filed, and thus was born the Shelby GT500 KR.
With the CJ's 440 foot-pounds of torque available from just 3,400 RPM, the Shelby Mustangs were properly modified to cope with the tremendous power, including a Ford Top Loader four-speed manual transmission (267 were equipped with this transmission) or a C6 3-speed automatic. There were larger hydraulic disc brakes in the front and larger drums at the rear, under-hood suspension bracing, and staggered rear shocks to prevent axle wind-up and wheel hop during heavy acceleration. The suspension was independent at the front with A-arms and coils springs, with a live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and staggered shock absorbers.
Exterior modifications included the scooped fiberglass hood that helped channel fresh air to the fuel-hungry intake passages. There were side scoops, stylized wheels, Shelby-specific logos and graphics, and special taillight design. The interior received wood applique to the dash, plush seating, and a factory roll bar. All 1968 Shelby Mustangs were equipped with power front disc brakes, power steering, and fold-down rear seats. Options included the GT Equipment Group, Interior Decor Group, tachometer and trip odometer, Visibility Group, Sports Deck rear seat, Tilt-Away steering column, and AM Radio (among others).
A total of 1,571 GT500 KRs were built for 1968 - the only year they were offered. Of those, 1,053 were fastbacks and 518 were convertibles. 299 had factory air conditioning. By this point in history, Shelby American had outgrown its facilities at Los Angeles Airport, so the company was divided into three entities, with road-car production placed under Shelby Automotive, Inc. in Livonia, Michigan, with assembly subcontracted to A.O. Smith in nearby Ionia. by Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2020
Related Reading : Ford Mustang History
The Mustang was introduced at the 1965 New York Worlds Fair, Mustang Mania instantly swept the country, and a new automotive market segment was created - the 22 or better known as the ponycar. Though its mechanical underpinnings descended from the Falcon, the Mustang was completely different. It was a compact, tight, clean package weighing in at a modest 2,550 pounds - a departure from the ever-enlarging.... Continue Reading >>
Related Reading : Ford Mustang History
The Ford Mustang first appeared in 1964 and was immediately popular for its style and its capabilities. The largest engine offering of the time was the 289 V-8 K-code small block engine which was sufficient but enthusiasts wanted and demanded more power. The base engine was a six-cylinder power plant. The body style configurations included coupe, convertible and fastback. In its first year of.... Continue Reading >>
Related Reading : Ford Mustang History
A pillar of American automotive lore, the Mustang is the vehicle the brought sporting dash and styling at a price that almost everyone could afford. Always extraordinarily attractive, the Mustang has been capturing the hearts of drivers for nearly 40 years. Introducing a whole new breed of automobile, the pony car, Ford wasnt content to stand on the sidelines while others jumped ahead. Rather than.... Continue Reading >>
Ford and the A.O. Smith Company facility in Livonia, Michigan now had control of the production of the Shelby Mustang as it rolled into 1968 with the introduction of a new body style - the convertible, which was available in either a GT350 or GT500. ....[continue reading]
The Shelby GT350 Mustangs were powered by a 302 cubic-inch V8 while the GT500 came equipped with the 390 cubic-inch engine. In February of 1958, the GT500-KR became available and was considered the ultimate Shelby. Under the hood was a 428 cubic-in....[continue reading]
In 1968 the Pony Cars wars were really heating up. With lots of excitement and plenty of young men wanting to make a statement, the availability of high performance cars was never better. For Shelby American, 1968 was a pinnacle year. Production move....[continue reading]
The father of the current owner found this 1968 Shelby for sale in an Orlando newspaper in 1975, like new and with extremely low miles, for $2,000. The car served as his mother's daily driver until it was placed in storage in 1978. This GT500KR (King....[continue reading]
This 1968 Shelby GT500KR Fastback was offered for sale at the 2007 Sports and Classic Car Auction presented by The Worldwide Group, in Hilton Head Island, SC where it was estimated to sell for $165,000 - $195,000. It is powered by a 428 cubic-inch '....[continue reading]
This 1968 Shelby GT 500KR Convertible with chassis number 8T03R210309 was brought to the 2007 Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction presented by RM Auctions, where it had an estimated value of $225,000 - $275,000. It has a Cobra-Jet 428 cubic-inch V....[continue reading]
This matching numbers car was shipped new on November 31st of 1968 to Gotham Ford in Manhattan. There were only 318 convertibles produced for 1968. It is painted in Lime Gold and features ten-spoke Shelby wheels with proper Firestone tires. The wh....[continue reading]
The Shelby Mustang GT500KR or 'King of the Road' was fitted with a 428 cubic-inch Cobra-Jet engine. It was listed by the factory at 335 horsepower, but in reality it was closer to 400 horsepower. ....[continue reading]
This green-colored 1968 Shelby GT500 KR Fastback is equipped with the Cobra-Jet 428 cubic-inch V8 capable of producing 335 horsepower. It has a C6 automatic transmission and four-wheel disc brakes. It sits atop a 108 inch wheelbase and is suspended b....[continue reading]
This 1968 Shelby Mustang GT 500KR Convertible was offered for sale at the 2007 RM Auctions held in Amelia Island, Florida where it was estimated to sell between $180,000 - $200,000. The car is powered by a Cobra-Jet 428 cubic-inch eight-cylinder eng....[continue reading]
The GT500KR was truly the 'King of the Road', boasting incredible horsepower and a luxurious interior. Equipped with Shelby's legendary 428 Cobra Jet engine, the GT500 KR was modestly rated at 335 horsepower, yet producing much closer to 400, with 44....[continue reading]
This 1968 Ford Shelby GT500 KR Convertible is finished in Wimbledon White with a Black interior. It has 28,000 miles on its odometer and is one of 33 KR's built with air conditioning. It has a power trop, power disc brakes, power steering, and tilt-a....[continue reading]
Outside of the seven production colors available on the 1968 Shelby, customers could also order from an assortment of 'Special Paint' colors. Only 159 Shelby customers selected the Special Paint option. Out of those, 43 GT500 KR convertibles were ord....[continue reading]
This 1968 Shelby GT500 KR Convertible has the 428 Cobra Jet V-8 engine, functional Ram Air Scoop, and four-speed manual transmission. Its original price was $4,711. It is one of 518 production cars and this was the first year Shelby had a Convertible....[continue reading]
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1968 Shelby Mustang GT500 KR Production Figures
Convertible Coupe 517
1,753,334 total vehicles produced by Ford in 1968 The 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500 KR accounted for 0.1% of Ford's 1,753,334 production.