1968 Shelby GT500KR 4-Speed

1968 Shelby Cobra Jet GT 500 KR Convertible

VIN 8T03R20483003327

Acquired April 2009
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Scheduled to be built at the Ford plant in Metuchen NJ on May 21, 1968, Ken’s Shelby KR actually rolled off the line two days late on May 23, 1968. After a trip to A.O. Smith in Ionia MI to get the Shelby treatment it was shipped to Jim Aikey Ford in Des Planes IL. (the dealership closed many years ago).

Ken found this flawless KR convertible in Chicago, not far from the dealership that originally sold it. He stumbled upon it while attending the World of Wheels car show at the McCormick Center in Chicago in 2007. He couldn’t put the car out of his mind and left the car show determined find the owner and make an offer to buy it. More than two years later, his plan finally came to fruition after he obtained the owner’s contact information and phoned him about purchasing the car. The owner, Dennis Neva, informed Ken that it was indeed for sale. Neva bought the car from the original owner more than two decades earlier. In 2004 Neva started a full nut-and-bolt rotisserie restoration using N.O.S. and custom hand-fabricated parts.

Beginning with that journey from Ionia MI to Chicagoland the virtually flawless KR convertible featured in Kens collection became a rare ONE OF A KIND treasure.

In 1968

4,451 Shelbys were produced 

Of the total GT-500 KRs produced

318 were convertibles (some sources site 518 produced in 1968)**

267 were fitted with 4-speed manual transmissions

43 were finished in Candyapple Red paint

38 had Black Décor Bucket Seat Interiors 

25 had white convertible tops

6 came with air conditioners, all 6 were identical.

One (1) of the six was shipped to a dealer in the Midwestern United States. 


The story of Ken’s KR convertible could very well begin with the words “once upon a time”.  A time when brute horsepower, straight ahead speed and muscle ruled the roads.  This is a glimpse back to that brief 5 year moment time when a legendary racer/car builder joined with Ford to create this 1968 Shelby Cobra Jet GT 500 KR Convertible.

After serving in as a flight instructor during WW II and going bankrupt in the chicken ranching business Carroll Shelby turned to automobile racing and his Legend began.

In August 1964 Ford asked Shelby, the now famous race car driver, to develop a high-performance Mustang fastback to compete in the pony car wars. The high water mark of this collaboration was reached with the production of the 1968 Shelby Cobra Jet GT 500 KR. 1968 was the only year the KR was produced as a convertible. From both Shelby's and Ford's standpoint the GT500 KR represented the Mustang's ultimate evolution. The Shelby KR Mustang Legend was born.

Ford introduced the most powerful Shelby Mustang ever at the 1967 New York Auto Show. In a way 1967 was the beginning of the end for the Shelbys, at least for the time being.

The 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR was a mid-year introduction, based on the 1968 Shelby GT500. Ford added 'Cobra' to the Shelby's moniker to help usher in the beginning of a new performance era at the company. The Cobra name referred to the new 428 Cobra Jet V-8 that was fitted under the KR's snake like custom fiberglass hood. It was the engine that would once again vault the Mustang to the head of the pack.

The name 'KR' meaning 'King of the Road' was a shrewd marketing move by Carroll Shelby who had learned that Chevrolet was about to unleash a marketing campaign that highlighted the 1968 Corvette as the 'King of the Road.' After a quick copyright search, they found that the 'KR' and 'King of the Road' had not been copyrighted. Stickers, photos, and decals were quickly made by Shelby and his crew and placed on the new GT500.

This was the first and only year for a Shelby KR convertible. It dressed up the stock Mustang with its unique fiberglass nose panels, fiberglass hood with working scoops, air-extraction vents, decorative bodyside intakes, and a spoilered tail with sequential turn signals borrowed from the T-Bird.

One of the most powerful and famous Shelby Ford Mustangs of all time, the GT500 KR  is probably one of the most desirable of the breed ever and definitely one of the heavyweights of the American muscle car scene. With a massive 7L V8 engine (the GT500 KR used the new Ford Cobra Jet GT engine) the GT 500 KR embodied the essence of the American muscle car - straight-line, foot to the floor, pedal to the metal power and plenty of it. It is claimed that the 335 HP power figure quoted by Shelby was actually an understatement made to lower insurance costs and that the real power figure is closer to 400 HP. The GT 500 KR has also appeared in the movie “Gone In 60 Seconds”, where it was modified with a new, chunkier front spoiler and nitrous oxide and was affectionately known as Eleanor.

With its fat tires and suspension tweaks, the GT 500-KR out handled all but pure sports cars. But it weighed more than a Cobra Jet Mustang, and as a drag racer, it was no Hemi-hunter. To most street rivals, however, one look was all it took. "Oddly, the KR's vincibility doesn't matter," observed Car Life. "The car is so impressive, so intimidating to challengers, that there are no challengers. The KR breeds confidence bordering on arrogance."

For the 1969 model year the GT 500 received an extensive face lift, the body alone increasing in length by 4 inches (100 mm). Ford was heavily involved with design and style decisions, with Shelby having very little input. By this time, the government and insurance industry was beginning to “legislate” muscle cars out of existence. It was all but impossible for manufacturers to meet stiff safety and pollution regulations in high performance cars. Therefore, in September 1969 Shelby terminated his agreement with Ford and The Shelby Mustang project ended and with it the end of an era of automotive history. Production continued until the parts ran out and 286 leftover '69 models were updated to '70 specifications.

This Car Is Featured In Several Magazine Articles:

Shelby American Automobile Club – Gold Awards in several events, the last in 2010.

Special Features in Mustang Monthly Magazine, Collectible Automobile Magazine and others.

2014 – Old Cars Magazine, April 14.

2016 – Motor Trend Magazine, April 14.

2018 - Hemmings Muscle Machine of the year candidate

2022 – 2023 On display at The Gilmore Automobile Museum, Hickory Corners MI. as a part of The Special Shelby Display Program.





1968 Shelby Mustang Specs

Production Numbers: 
GT350 Fastback: 1,253
GT350 Convertible: 404
GT500 Fastback: 1,140
GT500 Convertible: 402
GT500KR Fastback: 933
GT500KR Convertible: 318
GT500 Notchback Prototype: 1
Retail Prices
GT350 Fastback: $4,116.62 
GT350 Convertible: $4,238.14 
GT500 Fastback: $4,317.39 
GT500 Convertible: $4,438.91 
GT500KR Fastback: $4,472.57 
GT500KR Convertible: $4,594.09 
Power disc brakes: $64.77 
Power steering: $84.47 
Shoulder harness: $50.76 
Fold-down rear seat (Fastbacks only): $64.78 
Radio, AM push-button: $57.59 
Select-O-Matic transmission: $50.08 
Tinted glass (air conditioned cars only-required): $30.25 
Tilt-away steering wheel: $62.18
Available Exterior Colors Code Raven Black A Lime Green Metallic I Wimbeldon White M Medium Blue Metallic Q Dark Green Metallic R Candyapple Red T Meadowlark Yellow W Dark Blue Metallic X Gold Metallic Y Orange  
Available Interior Trim Code Black 6A Saddle 6F
Convertible Top Colors
Vehicle Identification Numbers - Shelby 
8 - Last digit of model year 
T - Assembly plant (T-Metuchen) 
02 - Body code (02-fastback, 03-convertible) 
J - Engine code (J-302, S-428, R-428CJ-R) 
000001 - Consecutive unit number 
0001 - Consecutive Shelby production number, 00001 to 04450 
Example: 8T02J000001-00001 

Stamped on plate which is pop-riveted on driver's side inner front fender panel over Ford VIN.
Vehicle Identification Numbers - Ford
Exactly the same as the Shelby VIN but without the consecutive Shelby production number.





The total production run was actually 4,451. The above statistic does not include ONE GT 500 notch back prototype that never went into full production. (Mario)

It appears that the production numbers for the 1968 KR were revised sometime in the recent past. The total production of the 1968 Shelby Mustang KR stands at 4,450 (less one prototype notch back that never went into production)

The difference in the production of the KR convertible from 318 to 518 seems to come from the downward revision of the production numbers of the GT 350 Fastback and the GT 500 Fastback and the addition of those production numbers to the GT 500 KR Fastback and Convertible. This revision accounts for the 200 car production variance of the GT 500 KR convertible.

One account sources the revision to a Mustang Judge named Johnson about 10 years ago. The reason for the revision from the original Shelby figures was not given.

Since the original production number cited is 318 GT 500 KR convertibles, we believe this to be the accurate production number.

Mario 2-19-2024

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