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Car Corner
The One That Got Away

May 1, 2017
By Scott Lewis

This is a time [for me] to reminisce. I bought a Muscle Car calendar to hang up in my cubicle at work. The first photo was of a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350. Seeing this car for only a coupe of days had me recall when I once saw a 1968 Shelby GT 350 for sale. I remember the car well. OK, as well as someone could remember a car they saw in an online ad over 15 years ago.

One of the reasons I remember it better than others is that I really thought about buying it. I actually looked into how much it would cost to finance. I remember I was living in my first house and it had a slightly oversized attached two car garage. I say slightly oversized because I don't know how big it was. It was definitely larger than the two car garage in my current home. It swallowed a full length Suburban with room to spare (before they made the smaller Yukon/Tahoe). So it would have no trouble holding a Real Shelby comfortably.

What made this car so special? First off it was, at the time, my favorite color for a car. I think it was Acapulco Blue with white stripes. Exactly how I would want a factory Shelby. And it had the one thing that helped make it one of the least desirable Shelby Mustangs around... an automatic transmission. Oh, and the priced was $22,000.

So there it was in an ad for weeks, maybe months. I checked on it over and over. Could I afford a $350-$400 a month payment on a car in the very late 90's? I do not know if there was such a thing as special financing for classic cars back then, so I was forced to consider a regular loan. I suspect if there was special financing for a car like this that would let me take 10 years instead of 5 to pay it off, I would have done it.

I recall researching the car because of that price, $22,000. Was it some kind of fluke. I thought for decades prior that ALL Shelby Mustangs were out of my price range... forever. I did some research back then in a price guide and discovered that this car was literally the least VALUABLE Shelby Mustang. Yep, 1968 was the lowest value in the price guide.

Why? A few reasons that I can think of now (and recall from back then as well). For starters, 1968 would be the worst year for performance for a GT 350. The 65/66 Shelby's were lighter, and lighter means better performance. Although 67 saw Shelby use the slightly larger body style incorporated into all Mustang for that year, they still used the same 289 engine with 306 horsepower. 1968 saw the use of a 302 engine that was rated at 250 hp in the Shelby. Whoa! And then there is the automatic transmission which would reduce performance even further. To add insult to injury, automatic cars received a 3.50:1 rear end ratio instead of the 3.89:1. This also reduces acceleration times for a slower revving engine on the highway.

For 1969 Shelby went to a 351 engine to increase power to 290 hp. So... 1968 GT 350's with an automatic are pretty much the slowest Shelby Mustang you can buy.

Whoo-Hoo! That was perfect for me. This car, even in 1999, would have been super cool to drive on a semi-regular basis. It was not super fast, and in turn would make it quite drivable and less temperamental than the more high strung versions. And being the least valuable would also make it more enjoyable to actually drive, since you could worry less about ruining a valuable classic.

Are you as curious as I am what the car would be worth today? I checked NADA for average retail: $75,000. High Retail is $131,000. Let's just assume average retail. That means the car went up 340% in the last 17 years. OK, the automatic was NOT accounted for in the NADA listing for this car. So maybe, it would be a little less. However, I did a quick search of Hemmings for a 1968 Shelby GT 350 and found 1 fastback listed at $97,500, and two convertibles listed at $119K or more. Yikes!

Back to what I thought when I first saw this Shelby Mustang in 1999... ALL Shelby Mustangs are out of my price range... FOREVER.

Conclusion

This is the ultimate car that got away. A car that would have cost me less than my wife's daily driver at the time, and would be worth oh so much more today.

Makes you wonder about the NEVER said expression... Unhappy Husband, Unhappy Husband!

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