There have been at least half a dozen guides to the first gen (’65-70) Shelby Mustangs. But finally there’s a book that is deeply research-based and not just conjecture. Greg Kolasa has done just that with the Definitive Shelby Mustang Guide 1965-70 form CarTech Publishing.
He goes into each year of the original Shelby Mustang run,separating fact from fiction and doing a bang-up job with color pictures that show the changes in trim not only from year to year but within the same model year. In his intro, he says the digital camera is what convinced him–when he could take hundreds of pictures at a single event and then back those up with facts.
Atlhough his book is mostly “in this year they offered this” approach, if you read between the lines you see that from ’65 to ’67 Shelby’s west coast operation was always playing “catch up” trying to correct manufacturing flaws due to changes in parts vendors, poorly designed parts or misunderstandings of the dealers, customers, etc.
Particularly illuminating is the chapter on the Hertz Shelbys where there was a braking issue and Ford had to hurriedly put in a booster brake. Kolasa alludes to having access to original documents for much of his book but he doesn’t reproduce them. The blurb says he did many interviews but I couldn’t find any interviews reproduced so I presume the main purpose of the interviews was what reporters call “for background,” i.e. to fact check his conclusions for instance that there was only four, not six, ShelbyGT350 convertibles in the early days before ’68.
He mentions only Chuck McHose as the designer of the ’67 when other books mention two designers being sent from Detroit. In the ’69 model he doesn’t come out and say who was responsible for the more dramatic look of the car (more divorced from the production Mustang than any previous model), nor does he
mention if the Mustang Milano show car came out before or after when that may have been the car that influenced the ’69 if it came out first.
He never mentions the Boss 302 or Boss 429 as having been spoilers for the later Shelbys and why Ford would deliberately introduce two high performance cars that would more or less dig the grave for the
One new bit of info for this reporter-who has spent over 40 years studying the marque-was the author’s tale of a year long battle between Ford and the Michigan firm building the cars -A.O.Smith- over finishing the cars and who should pay for them. I hope in a later edition, Kolasa can reproduce a Ford memo on why Shelby left; or his letter of resignation from Ford or something to explain why the program fell apart after he left. Actually in auto history this often happens, more recently when DeTomaso left Kjell Qvale in the lurch on the front engined Mangusta, forcing Qvale to re-name the cars the Qvale Mangusta and dooming the car once the public realized it was no longer a DeTomaso product.
Kolasa has hundreds of excellent pictures, though he does make the mistake of printing at least one of a clone, when I think the market for the book is those restoring Shelby Mustangs or those who want to build a clone and the last thing they need is to build a clone using for reference a picture of a clone. The most valuable pictures in his book are those of the ’65 R model—even a clone of that, to be correct, would have to cost over $50,000 to build so you need really accurate pictures of the dashboard, engine compartment and such.
He also briefly mentions Shelby’s attempt to make replicas, not using the word replica, with a firm called Beverly Hills Mustang and says those are accepted as continuation cars. But I wonder if that means acceptance by an auction company or just some club. Clubs of course can deem a car anything they want but I say if you go to an auction and the auctioneer is implying a continuation car is the real thing, that’s fraud. If a ’65-’70 Shelby was made out of time sequence (after the ‘60s) they are replicas, pure and simple. He doesn’t mention a later effort with a Marina del Rey TV producer which resulted in at least one finished car.
The size of the book, only about ¾” of an inch thick and roughly the dimensions of a business letter, makes it easy to carry the book around a car show or auction and I think this will be a book every owner of a ’65-through’-70 Mustang who likes Shelbys will want to own and make marginal notes in. The price–$39.95– is a bit high but the paper quality and printing are excellent and I laud them for going all color. Let’s hope they do a paperback version at a more reasonable under $25 price.
In sum, this book is a keeper and a good reference. I would have wanted more history, maybe explaining the changeover in advertising from Shelby doing it to Ford, but to be fair, the subject of Shelby is so big that if they included everything, you’d have another door stop 500-plus page book like the Rinsey Mills book when the real need is for a reference book you can carry around at club meets and auctions.
Contact Car Tech, at www.cartechbooks.com if you can’t find it at your local bookstore.
Wallace Wyss is the author of SHELBY The Man, The Cars, The Legend