Biff’s Rap – The 1969-70 Shelby Mustangs, The End of Shelby American
Written by Biff Hitzeman
The Mustang was completely redesigned in 1969. Many of the previously used Shelby options were included on the stock, GT and now called Mach I’s, Boss 302s & 429s Mustangs. Shelby could see the writing on the wall. Emission controls were mandatory on all cars, affecting performance. And now Ford was a primary competitor.
To do the competition up one better, Shelby and his people again made a new ’69 Shelby Mustang. The front end was extended with a fiberglass nose, front fenders & hood. The front end was flattened much like the to be `71 Mustang. The hood had no less than 5 NASA type scoops cut into it to cool the massive 428 or new 351C in the GT 350. A convertible was again offered with the same flat roll bar with the clips to hold down a surfboard. Using only two headlights, the large wrap around front bumper area was uncluttered except for a Cobra emblem located on the drivers side of the grill. Fog lights were recessed under the bumper. Twist hood locks were recessed into the hood. Scoops were cut into the rear fenders for cooling the brakes. The side stripe was now located up on the door, same location as the Mach I. The stripes were light reflective. A cobra snake appeared on the side of the roof line, on the convertible the emblem was placed on the top rear edge of the front fenders. The rear trunk lid spoiler extended higher than the ’68s. T-Bird sequential taillights were used again. The exhaust outlets were located in the center of the rear, under the license plate holder. (An expensive aluminum piece to replace today.) The wheels remained 15″ mags style hubcaps or the popular Magnum 500s, on Goodyear raised white letter F60x15″ tires.
During the production year Ford decided to offer the remaining ’69s as ’70s. Many of the ’69s had revised VIN to be ’70s. A black air dam or spoiler was added to the front and twin black stripes on the hood.
This was the end of the Carroll Shelby/Ford marriage. Shelby was out of the limited production sports car business. Beginning with the most winning production car ever built and the first American race car to win an International race, the ’65, and ending with an overweight, over striped underpowered 1970. What a shame this marriage of talents didn’t last. It produced some of the finest American sports cars ever but succumbed to a failing market due to expensive insurance rates, government regulations and questionable Ford decisions. Just imagine, an SVO with a touch of Carroll Shelby.
A side note, many people have asked why Shelby went to Chrysler to build a new Shelby automobile. Rumor has it he talked to Ford but was told their SVO team didn’t need any help and besides an old friend needed all the help he could get at Chrysler, Lee Iococca…. Biff