Vintage R&T Review: 1967 Shelby GT 500 – The Shelby Thunderbird

The Shelby Mustang took a giant turn for 1967. Instead of a hard, lean and sports car, it was now a bloated Mustang with an appearance package, powered by a mild 428 backed by a standard automatic, and featuring standard power steering, power brakes and air conditioning. Not surprisingly, it was no faster than a regular 390 Mustang; its 15.5 second quarter mile times made a joke of Shelby’s advertised 13.5 seconds.

In other words, it was a Shelby Thunderbird.

R&T was pretty generous with the GT 500, approving of the appearance changes. But looks can be deceiving: it looks something like a racing car, yet it isn’t.  True that.

Although the changes under the skin were considerably less for 1967, the suspension did get a bit of firming up. With the 428, an automatic and all those power accessories up front, 58% of its weight was on its front wheels. The ride was firm, and the wide tires did their best to mitigate all that inherent understeer. R&T was again generous: something less than we’ve come to expect from Shelby’s cars, but still very good in comparison to the typical American sedan.  Thank goodness!

The 428 was fitted with Shelby’s twin four-barrel intake system, bumping power from 335 to 355 (gross) hp. As the testing results show, it was hardly a red light bandit. 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, and the quarter mile in 15.5 @95mph.

But the Shelby did set an all time record at R&T in one measure: it had the lowest mileage they ever recorded: 9.8 mpg average over 800 miles. That might account for the pervasive smell of raw gas in the passenger cabin; it apparently wasn’t all getting burned. The 428 piddled oil whenever it was parked.

The expectation is that the GT500 will find a wider buyer base than its gnarly predecessor. Presumably so, but it was never going to become the cult-mobile like GT350 either. Shelby was going soft.