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The Lost and Found Department's Latest Story

Straight from the believe it or not file!

29th January, 2004

Mysterious Shelby Cobra GT 500 Missing for 36 Years,
Found at Volo Auto Museum

The Volo Auto Museum will display a prototype Shelby Cobra GT-500 convertible valued at nearly $1 million (USD) at the 2004 Chicago Motor Show.

A mysterious incident and a clever disguise enabled the striking-red Shelby to escape a strict Ford policy dictating the destruction of all prototype vehicles.

The famous pony car will be the highlight of the museum’s antique-car display at the Chicago Motor Show, which runs 6-16 February 2004 at McCormick Place Chicago (USA). It will be the vehicle’s first public appearance outside of the museum since its strange disappearance in 1968.

Former chicken rancher and racecar driver Carroll Shelby first teamed with Ford in 1965 to produce the now legendary Shelby Cobra GT-350 and GT-500, winners of the Sports Club Car of America Championship in ‘65, ‘66 and ’67.

The muscle-car masterpieces originally cost between $4,000 and $5,500 (USD). Today, a GT-500 convertible in good condition is worth about $100,000 (USD).

On 16th August 1966, Shelby ordered two prototype GT-500s - a notchback coupe known as “Little Red” and the museum’s convertible – to replace his personal driver, a 1966 prototype convertible that Ford confiscated.

The museum’s convertible was initially assigned to Carroll Shelby as a personal driver. Shelby’s employees and friends also drove the car from time to time.

Shelby’s company, Shelby America, drove “Little Red” to promotional events and photographed it for marketing materials. However, the company never publicised or even snapped a shot of the convertible.

Ford eventually destroyed “Little Red,” but the convertible survived to become the single most valuable artifact of the Muscle-Car Era.

In the summer of 1967, while on loan to a Ford executive, the car was reported stolen. Ford recovered its prototype in February of 1968, re-fitted it with 1968 Shelby parts and sold it as a used 1968 Shelby GT-500 convertible. Charges were never filed.

The museum purchased the questionable and undocumented convertible from a private collector in 1999 and spent the next four years researching the car and restoring it to its original state.

The prototype is the only 1967 Shelby convertible ever produced. It also is the only Shelby convertible ever powered by a true big-block engine, a 428 that pumps out about 400 horsepower.

In 2003, Carroll Shelby authenticated the vehicle in an interview with Don Gurney, President of Race Legends, Inc., and in a letter to the museum.

Shelby signed the letter, spun it around so it faced Gurney across the desk and said, “That car is now worth a lot of money – think what it will be when I’m gone.”

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