For years after the 1966 GT350 convertibles were produced, the cars remained shrouded in confusion and misunderstanding. Initially, the hobby at large believed that a total of six convertibles were produced at the end of 1966 GT350 production. This was before, in 1987, documentation was unearthed in Carroll Shelby’s Gardena office that confirmed otherwise. Chief among those documents was an order dated June 7, 1966, specifying “Four experimental convertibles are being run through the shop at present time … One of these units is sold and the other three will be used for test purposes in anticipation of a 1967½ GT350 convertible.” Given that information, and the subsequent discovery that two of the then “existing” 1966 convertibles were nothing but figments of the owners’ imaginations, what remains clear is that only four 1966 GT350 convertibles were produced.
Put simply, here is what is known with absolute confidence today about these legendary Shelby Mustangs. They were the final four examples of the first-generation 1965-66 GT350s. All four 1966 convertibles were painted different colors of Ivy Green, Red, Sapphire Blue and Springtime Yellow. Two convertibles were automatics while two were 4-speed cars. These four convertibles would be the only four Shelbys to have factory air conditioning in the first two years of production. Finally, only one of those four cars remains with its original engine today, and, as luck would have it, that very car is the one being offered here today.
The subject car is Serial No. 6S2375, and it was the earliest of the four 1966 GT350 convertibles produced by serial number. Equipped with factory air conditioning and an automatic transmission, it was finished in Ivy Green with a black interior and white top. In addition, as proven by a photograph in the December 7, 1967, issue of Autoweek, the car was adorned with a set of unique, Hertz Gold colored rocker stripes with no “H,” as was present on GT350H cars. In specification, these 1966 convertibles were identical to production 1966 GT350 fastbacks with the exception of the quarter panel brake cooling scoops being made non-functional in order to accommodate the top folding mechanism, as well as the addition of factory-installed air conditioning. Upon its completion, the car was sent to the Shelby American motor pool for testing in preparation for a proposed 1967½ Shelby GT350 Convertible.
After eight months, 6S2375 was picked up at Shelby’s Hi-Performance Motors in El Segundo, California, with an invoice price of $2,870.61, which was reduced by agreement with Shelby American to $2,250. It was subsequently shipped to Hayward Ford in Hayward, California, on February 14, 1967, and served duty as a pace car at SCCA Bay Area, California, events until purchased, complete with gold stripes and “Shelby Pace Car” lettered on the doors by Derek Scott of Walnut Creek. Scott had the car media blasted and repainted in white, and then in blue. He then changed the interior color to blue and made other modifications to the interior. After another owner, it was sold to Joe Wallace of Alameda, California, who returned the interior back to stock condition. In the mid-1970s, Clifford Hornback of Vinita, Oklahoma, discovered the car in poor condition, but aware of its rarity and value, he began a careful restoration with the help of noted Shelby enthusiast Jim Wicks. The correct Shelby components were retained, including the original engine and factory suspension pieces. The only two alterations made at the time were the additions of a Paxton supercharger and Hertz Gold over the top “Le Mans” stripes to match the rocker stripes on the car. 6S2375 was featured in Mustang Monthly in July 1982 and, astoundingly, driven more than 30,000 miles after the restoration by Hornback attending Shelby events all over the country. Later joining the John Atzbach Collection, it was a standout in an impressive 50th Anniversary gathering of Mustangs and Shelby GTs at the LeMay America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, in 2014.
In this collector car world where rare rag-top muscle cars command the most premium of prices, the four 1966 Shelby GT350 convertibles stand out as displaying a level of rarity and desirability that would be extremely difficult to match. In addition, though all four of the original 1966 GT350 convertibles remain in existence today, the balance of the other three cars outside of 6S2375 have now found homes in collections where it remains remarkably unlikely that these other three cars will trade hands any time soon, or ever again. The opportunity to purchase 6S2375 at Dana Mecum’s 33rd Annual Spring Classic in Indy is one which will almost certainly never occur again.
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