1969 Shelby GT 500 owned by Jeffrey Bates
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
“You can tell that this is a car designed for driving. Real driving,” says the sales brochure for the 1969 Shelby GT 500. And that was no hype. The Shelby – a heavily modified Ford Mustang fastback or convertible – was born in 1965 when legendary race car driver Carroll Shelby teamed up with Ford to produce limited-edition performance cars. In the beginning, bare-bones Mustangs were built in the company’s California plant and then shipped to a nearby Shelby American facility, where engine, suspension and trim modifications transformed them into vehicles worthy of the track or the drag strip. By 1969, Ford was doing the makeovers on its own and it soon ended its arrangement with Shelby. A handful of 1970 cars were built with leftover parts. Ford would revive the model as the “GT500” in 2007 and they are still being built today.
“Only five Shelby GT 500s were manufactured in 1969 in this ‘Grabber Orange’ paint scheme, two convertibles and three coupes,” Bates says of his car’s rarity. “There were a total of 1,536 Shelby GT 500s produced altogether during the 1969 model year. The car’s stated horsepower was 335, although its actual horsepower was close to 400” from the big, 428-cubic-inch V-8 engine, known as the “Ram-Air 428.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
“My parents sent me to the drug store when a woman pulled up in the car with a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window,” Bates says. “I was 16 and had just gotten my junior driver’s license and had been saving money from numerous jobs on local farms in the area.”
“The car is totally original with the exception of tires and mufflers,” he says. “It has several small dents and scratches, but looks good. The car has 47,000 miles on it. I have had two opposing views on the car’s condition: (a) leave it just the way it is, or (b) do a complete, ground-up restoration. I work with my father in our auto repair shop, which specializes in antique and classic U.S. and foreign cars.”
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Keep it garaged and regularly serviced, regardless of miles driven,” Bates advises.
Bates estimates the value from $80,000 to more than $100,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“When I bought the car, I had not told my parents and my father took it away for six months as punishment,” Bates says. “My girlfriend at the time, Patricia, who is now my wife, refused to ride in it then -- or now -- and I used a beat-up old Jeep on dates. I take it on occasion to local car shows and it is often at our place of business.”