When Carroll Shelby designed the 1965 Shelby Mustang, he created a car that he would like to drive – a high performance car geared more towards racing than a daily driver. However, by the late ’60s rising insurance and government mandates regarding emission and safety standards began to limit the market for high performance cars. Consumers made it known that they wanted vehicles that were more luxurious.
Ford management had taken many of the production and design decisions relating to Shelby’s Mustangs away from Shelby. Government regulations were also affecting his designs. Not one to listen to suits and bean counters, Shelby decided to leave Ford during the summer of 1969. His last two Mustangs were already in production – the 1969 GT350 and GT500.
Today the 1969 Shelby GT350s and GT500s are highly desired by collectors not only because of limited production numbers, but also because of their design. This 1969 Acapulco Blue GT500 is a beautiful example of Shelby’s creativity. Its owner, Arnold Holland, of Riverside, Rhode Island, treasures its uniqueness.
“Since I was about 18 years old, living 10 minutes from Tasca Ford in East Providence, Rhode Island, made it easy for me to know and appreciate these cars,” Arnold said. “I can remember one day going into the (Tasca) driveway and seeing a number of Shelbys in a perfect row and saying to myself, ‘Maybe someday.’”
The 1969 GT500 truly is a head turner. It islargerthan the previous model year. The five NASA scoops on the hood, brake scoops on the front and rear fenders, and the aluminum exhaust exiting from the center of the rear bumper project the car’s ability to blow away whatever might dare cross its path.
The powerplant for the ’69 GT500 was the 428 Cobra Jet V8 – the top production engine at the time. Air was fed to the engine through the center NASA scoop on the hood. Arnold’s GT500 has a C6 transmission with a shift kit and a Ford Traction-Lok limited slip rear axle.
The interior features include the Mustang’s Deluxe Interior Décor Group in white with center console fold down rear seat. A tachometer, oil pressure gauge, and amp meter monitor the engine’s vitals. Inertia-reel harnesses and an integral roll bar were standard on all fastbacks.
Five-spoke chrome steel wheels with an aluminum center section are wrapped with F70x15 Goodyear Polyglas tires. Airflow coming from fender scoops kept the brakes cool.
If the driver was ready to race, the Shelby GT500 was ready to go.
“Someday” came for Arnold in October 1998 when he purchased this GT500. At that time the car had just finished a four-year restoration. Arnold enjoys participating in Mustang Club of America National and Grand National shows in the concourse trailered class, as well as Mustang Car Club of New England shows.
“This car has a unique body style which I think will always be in style,” Arnold said. Indeed it does, Arnold. Indeed it does.
1969 Shelby GT500
Owner: Arnold Holland, Jr. of Riverside, RI Bodystyle: SportsRoof Color: Acapulco Blue Interior Color: White Engine: 428 Cobra Jet Transmission: C-6 Cruise-O-Matic
Production Numbers Fastbacks 1,534 Convertibles 335 1969 GT500 Total 1,869
Fire and Refinement The ad campaign that Ford ran in print described the 1969 GT350 and GT500 as “Fire and Refinement” – a blend of two entirely different qualities – high-performance and luxury. The fire was balanced by elegance and refinement. Touches of simulated teakwood, courtesy lights in the doors, bright trimmed pedal pads, plush high-back bucket seats, air conditioning and stereo were described as “touches of luxury cars.” According to the advertising campaign, the GT350 or GT500 was “a car designed for rapid transit in the utmost comfort and luxury.”