If your last name is Shelby it makes perfect sense to own and drive a Shelby Mustang. Sharon Shelby was given this blue with white stripes 1966 Shelby GT350 continuation convertible by her famous father, Carroll. The car has an interesting history as part of somewhat controversial side note to production ’66 Shelby Mustangs.
This car is one of twelve 1966 Shelby GT350 convertibles that are known as “continuation” cars. While that term might seem somewhat confusing, Carroll Shelby never misrepresented the continuation Shelby convertibles as anything but continuations. He saw these cars as extensions of the cars he built in 1966.
At the end of the 1966 Shelby GT350 production run six GT350 convertibles were supposed to be built as gifts for very special Shelby friends. We say supposedly six, because the best research available indicates that only four were actually built.
Carroll Shelby used one of those convertibles as his company car. He was quite fond of the car and intended to give it to his wife. Unfortunately, the car was sold while he was out of the country (company cars were usually sold after six months of service).
In the late seventies, Carroll thought it would be fun to build himself another ’66 GT350 convertible. Solid, rust-free ’66 Mustang convertibles were plentiful in Southern California and new old stock Mustang parts and reproduction Shelby parts were readily available. All Shelby had to do was find a qualified Mustang shop to build the car.
Shelby eventually hooked up with J. Brunk at Beverly Hills Mustang in Beverly Hills, California. By the time their discussions were through it was agreed that Beverly Hills Mustang would build twelve continuation cars. One car would go to Carroll and three would go to his children—daughter Sharon and sons Mike and Pat.
Four cars would be sold to customers to finance the project and Beverly Hills Mustang would get the remaining four. The original four general public cars carried $40,000 price tags. That was almost insane money in the 1980-1982 time frame when these cars were built, but with Shelby’s blessing the cars sold. Two of the Beverly Hills Mustang cars weren’t built right away although they were eventually finished and sold.
The continuation cars were either blue with white stripes like Sharon’s or white with blue stripes. Carroll, Sharon, and Pat got blue ones and Mike got a white one. The majority of the cars came with automatic transmissions although some were 4-speeds. Records indicate that of the Shelby family cars only Pat Shelby opted for a four-speed.
Even though these continuation cars were restored ’66 V-8 Mustang convertibles they were given sequential Shelby American serial numbers. It was determined that the original manufacturer (Shelby American, Inc.) could build a non-current model year car if 95 percent (or more) of the parts were new old stock or new reproduction parts. Outside of the bare body shell they were able to use new parts and satisfy the requirements. The cars only had to meet 1966 emissions and safety standards.
The controversial part of this building a “new” car fourteen or fifteen years after its initial date of manufacture is that if J. Brunk had done it without Shelby’s involvement, the cars would have just been very nice clones. But, since Shelby was upfront about what he was doing the continuation convertibles ended up as a unique side note to Shelby Mustang history. They’re not as valuable as the four GT350 convertibles built in 1966, but they do have their own unique place in Shelby lore and are therefore more valuable than other Shelby convertible clones, recreations, tributes or whatever else people care to call them.
The continuation ’66 Shelby GT350 convertible featured here has remained with Sharon Shelby, although its condition wasn’t always this nice. The car had deteriorated over time to a point where it needed a complete restoration.
Sharon took the convertible to David Bell at Winged Graphics (even though David is an automotive restoration expert he retained his company name from when he worked on airplanes) in Roanoke, Texas, for a one-year rotisserie restoration. David does a lot of work on high-end German cars so he duplicated the original colors in Glasso BMW paint after he stripped all the old paint.
The Pony interior was redone in white leather. The convertible top was upgraded with German Hartz cloth and a zip out rear window. The rollbar was an original feature. The air conditioning unit appears to be a vintage Ford under dash unit, but upgrades (including a larger aluminum radiator) were made to improve hot weather performance. The wood steering wheel is a Nardi unit.
Most of the cylinders in the original engine had been sleeved so the block was replaced. A hydraulic camshaft is used. Cast iron K-code exhaust manifolds were used instead of the previous Tri-Y headers, because the headers were too loud. An upgraded MSD ignition system was installed.
Sharon Shelby’s ’66 GT350 continuation convertible continues to provide her with the enjoyment her father originally intended.
SIDEBAR: DRIVING IMPRESSIONS
The first Beverly Hills Mustang/Shelby GT350 continuation convertible built went to Carroll himself, but not before it made the rounds of performance car magazines. As a Feature Editor at HOT ROD MAGAZINE I got to drive Carroll’s car. I drove it up, over and around Laurel Canyon and on the infamous Mulholland Drive.
It was a sunny LA afternoon (not uncommon, but uncommonly little smog), which was perfect for top-down driving and photography. My recollections of the experience center around my disbelief that anyone would pay $40,000 for what I considered a fake GT350. I owned a genuine ’66 GT350 and I felt the continuation convertible didn’t measure up to my car. It was a nice car and the convertible feature was attractive, but I thought the air conditioning and power steering were sissy features not suited to a real GT350. Bruce Caldwell