Pony Up the Cash for this 1969 Shelby GT350 Mustang Fastback!
By D. Brian Smith
While perusing the antique car classifieds section of the Orange County Register in the summer of 1994, I read a listing that sounded too good to be true. Someone had advertised a 1969 Shelby GT350 Mustang SportsRoof for sale, and it sounded like the deal of the century. According to the Kelley Gold Book for that year the car was underpriced by at least $4,000.
Software Salesman Seeks Shelby Mustang
People who didn’t know me at the time might have surmised that I was a Yuppie. I lived in Southern California in Huntington Beach. I was single and willing to mingle. My daily driver was a 1991 Mazda Miata. I worked at what was then the second largest computer software company in the world, and I was pretty well paid. Since I was paying $400 a month in rent for a two bedroom, two bath condominium that was maybe two miles from Surf City sand, and I had money in the bank, life was good. Of course, that money in my savings account was just waiting to be invested in the right sort of investment vehicle.
The more practical side of me was thinking that I could put the money in mutual funds. The superhero version of me was thinking of investing in a most righteous sort of asset like maybe an American muscle car. Mind you, I didn’t have enough cash to buy a Shelby Cobra. But I did have enough to purchase an old Mustang, or a C2 Corvette, or perhaps a Sunbeam Tiger, or maybe even a Shelby Mustang. There were plenty of pleasing possibilities in the 1990’s.
Old car prices hadn’t gone to the moon as they have in the 2020’s. I recently read some articles in Hemmings Motor News saying that there’s a correction taking place in the collector car marketplace, based upon recent auto auction results at the major automotive auction houses, at Hemmings, and Bring a Trailer.
I’ve also seen some muscle car listings on vehicles that I’d like to purchase when I win the lottery, that seem to have come down a bit in price. But I digress.
The 1969 Shelby GT350 Mustang fastback that comprises the photos of this article is a reasonable facsimile of the car that I could have purchased in the summer of 1994. The seller lived in Irvine, California and worked as a product manager for Mazda North American Operations. He wanted to sell his Pastel Gray 1969 Shelby GT350 sportsroof that had its original numbers matching 351-cubic inch Windsor V8 engine and Ford four-speed manual Top Loader transmission to help fund the restoration of a 1957 Ford retractable hardtop convertible.
What made his Shelby sportsroof so fantastic was the way that it was equipped and its bone stock originality. In addition to having the four-speed manual trans, it had factory air conditioning and white upholstery. If memory serves, the odometer showed some 37,000 miles and change, which according to the owner were the original miles.
After calling the guy on the phone, I arranged to go see the car with my then girlfriend. She put up with my passion for all things automotive, but I wouldn’t characterize her as a gearhead. The Shelby owner allowed me and my girl to take a test drive without him in the car. The AC worked great. The transmission shifted better than any other manual transmission 1960’s era Mustang that I’ve ever driven. The engine pulled strong. The AM/FM radio sounded sweet. This Shelby Mustang was a veritable time capsule. I felt as if I was Marty McFly, and I had traveled back to 1969 in my Superflux Capacitor powered DeLorean to test drive and purchase this car. My girlfriend even told me to buy it!
Above: The GT350 I test drove in ’94 had white upholstery like this one. That car was so rare that I couldn’t find any photos of one equipped just like it. Notice this car doesn’t have air conditioning, either. Photos courtesy of Mecum Auctions.
After some negotiating with the owner, he accepted my best offer for the Shelby, but gave me the weekend to decide whether I really wanted to pull the trigger. In 20/20 hindsight, that darn weekend was my demise. Instead of being a superhero, I made the wimpy decision and retracted my offer.
Obviously, I wish I could get in that DeLorean and go back and buy that dad gum GT350 Shelby!
Several years later, when I was a burgeoning freelance automotive journalist, I wrote an email to the president of the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC). I described how the Shelby was equipped in the note and asked the SAAC prez how much that Shelby might be worth. He told me that the car was one of nine so configured, and it was approximately valued at $200,000 (which was in 2002).
The money that would have paid for the Shelby, I invested in mutual funds back in 1994. That so called practical investment didn’t grow like the value of the Shelby exploded to due to its rarity. Who knows what my life would be like today had I purchased the Shelby in the summer of 1994? Would I be a wise American muscle, vintage, exotic, and super car collector and house my collection at my mansion in Pebble Beach, California? Perhaps. Or maybe I’d still be a humble scribe, who gets to write about cool cars for a living at Classic Industries. Either option seems to be a good life to have.
So, what’s the moral of this story (you might be thinking)? This whole article could shrink down into the 13th mistake that auto enthusiasts make in hunting for an old car to buy. The 13th mistake could have this title: Sometimes it’s best to go with your gut, go with your heart, go with you intuition, when you’re thinking about buying an old car to own, work on, restore, collect, drive, and enjoy. Don’t overthink it. For the other 12 mistakes, you can read the article by clicking here.
Classic Industries Sells Ford Mustang & Shelby Parts
Whether you own a 1st generation, a 2nd gen, a 3rd gen, or a 4th gen Mustang or Shelby, there’s a great chance that Classic Industries has the components you’re seeking. Simply click on those aforementioned emboldened and underlined numbers to shop for your generation of Mustang pony/muscle car parts. You can enhance your Mustang shopping experience by also ordering a printed Mustang Parts & Accessories Catalog.