Spotlight: 1969 Shelby GT350 Fastback
The year 1969 would prove to be a year of many changes for the Mustang fraternity. For the third time since its introduction in 1964, a significant restyling emerged with the new models. While still retaining the 108″ wheelbase of the original car, the latest pony was bigger in every other dimension. It was longer, lower, wider and sleeker than any of its predecessors.
Significant changes were made in the engine lineup that year, as well. The stalwart 200ci inline six was supplemented by a 250ci version. The 2-bbl 302 V8 remained the base eight cylinder engine, now supplemented by both 2- and 4-bbl versions of the 351 engine. The 390-4V engine remained available, but the 302-4V and the 390-2V were removed, making way for the BOSS 302 and BOSS 429 engines.
Ford expanded the Mustang line with several new models, including an economy sport roof edition, the luxury-oriented Mustang Grande, as well as the historic and performance-driven BOSS 302 and BOSS 429 models.
The latter two were not particularly good news for Carroll Shelby. Even if they didn’t compete exactly against the Shelby GT350 and GT500 models, they certainly muddied the water.
Mustangs built at the Dearborn Assembly plant, when destined to become Shelby cars, were shipped to the nearby Shelby facility in Iona, MI. There, they were given a significant facelift including a fiberglass hood, front fenders and rear deck lid, front and rear scoops and a dual exhaust system. The overall effect is one that some judge less attractive than previous models, being rather more overstated than need be.
Shelby’s influence in the design and style direction of those cars bearing his name was fading and so, in the summer of 1969, Carroll Shelby terminated his agreement with Ford. The parting had as much to do with the arrival of Bunkie Knudsen as Ford’s new president, than it did with any styling influence that was gained or lost by any party. There was some bad blood there from the past.
The particular car shown here has some history of its own. Built with Shelby serial number 1339, the car was dealer-modified for promotional use at the now defunct Riverside International Raceway. The car was delivered with Boss 302 competition front springs, rear sway bar, Koni shock absorbers, an export fender brace and rear suspension lowering blocks. A Shelby aluminum intake was also added to the car. The car is fully documented in a Marti report, as being one of 129 built with a 351/290 HP engine and wide-ratio 4-speed transmission.
Having undergone a full restoration, the numbers-matching car is coming up for auction at the 24th Edition of Dana Mecum’s Original Spring Classic Auction in Indianapolis, IN. Billed as The World’s Largest Collector Car Auction, the event – now expanded to six days – takes place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds from May 17th through the 22nd. For more information, visit the event web site.