Mustang Driven

News, information and my adventures with America's favorite pony car.

Green Hornet Prototype Up For Grabs!

I just stumbled across this. I posted an article about about this car some time last year I think? Anyhoo, be sure to check out the full article over at Ford Racing


SCOTTSDALE, AZ – There were plenty of superb Shelby Mustangs that crossed the block last weekend at the 45th Annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction. But likely none have ever been more rare or more prized than the 1968½ Shelby GT500 EXP “Green Hornet” prototype that went under the hammer at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2013, and ended up a “No Sale.” Ford Performance enthusiasts were still talking about it again this year!

And for good reason. If cars could talk, few would have a more interesting life story to tell than this one-of-a-kind Shelby Mustang prototype. In brief: According to Mustang California Special authority and author Paul Newitt, in 1967, Shelby American built an experimental notchback-bodied Shelby Mustang, unique in that the production ’68 models were sold only as fastbacks or convertibles. Its Ferrari-inspired paint job earned it the nickname "Little Red." The Paxton-supercharged, big-block Shelby notchback caught the eye of several Ford dealers and execs and spurred the development of additional prototypes dubbed GT/SC, for Sport Coupe. The latter was ultimately produced as the 19681/2 Mustang GT/CS, or California Special, at the behest of several West Coast Ford dealers and by approval of Lee Iacocca. That's another story for another day, although a worthy one.

As all-too-often happens with experimental project cars, Little Red was purportedly destroyed. Carroll Shelby and company wanted to develop the Shelby Mustang into something even more special than it was. At the time, he and his band of fabricators and hot rodders were experimenting with several new component systems for use on future models. Among them was an independent rear-suspension system – boasting disc brakes – that could be mounted to the factory Mustang chassis with minimal modification. Another was a "Conelec" electronic fuel-injection system, aimed not only at increasing performance but meeting the emissions requirements that were such an imposing part of the 1968 Federal Clean Air Act.

As far as the 1968 Shelby "Green Hornet" Prototype engine goes, it turned out that another Little Red-style prototype was commissioned, using one of the notchback-bodied GT/SC’s. It began life as a 390 V-8-equipped 1968 Mustang and was originally Lime Gold with an Ivy Gold interior. As a GT/SC prototype, it already had the T-Bird style rear deck and taillamps, plus other Shelby-inspired bodywork. Shelby's Michigan-based engineering shop, led again by Shelby chief engineer Fred Goodell, converted it to something more closely resembling Shelby-spec, including Shelby badging and ID (note the "EXP500" rocker panel stripes), beginning in early 1968.

The first major change was swapping the original 390 for the CJ"X" (for Experimental) 428 fitted with the fuel-injection system; had it been successful, it may have migrated to other Ford and Lincoln models. The 428 Cobra Jet "X" put out an estimated 450-475 horsepower. A beefier transmission was developed from a Ford truck unit. This was a variation of the FE-based 428 Cobra Jet. Equally significant was the installation of the aforementioned Shelby-developed independent rear suspension. The goals were better handling, a smoother ride, and improved traction, as leaf-sprung Mustangs weren't always the greatest at putting power to the ground. Four-wheel discs would've also been a major production advance for American ponycars; they were optional on the ’69 Camaro Z/28, but most others made due with rear drums.

Another interesting experimental goodie is the Mustang's first power-retractable radio antenna mounted in the driver-side rear fender. EXP500 was repainted a dark metallic green, and the roof received a sprayed-on black vinyl-like finish. After it lived a life of proving-ground tests and teardowns, the Green Hornet – like Little Red before it – was supposed to be crushed. But it somehow escaped that unthinkable fate and was sold at company auction to Ford employee Robert Zdanowski in May 1971 . . . for $3,000. It was soon sold to Michigan Ford dealer Don Darrow and remained in his family for more than 20 years. Along the way, it was repainted, the top refinished in white, and the experimental fuel-injection systems and rear end were removed. Even many purists will admit that the Shelby graphics and body panels look great on the notchback bodystyle, as does the upgraded deluxe interior.