Controversial 1968 Shelby Cobra Mustang GT500-KR Barn Find At Auction
by Thomas Bey
A highlight of this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas was the original Shelby Cobra prototype on display. Unrestored and unpretentious, its presentation was in stark contrast to the event’s requisite highly polished, no-holds-barred rides surrounding it.
Patina be damned, its provenance commanded due respect.
Just in time for Shelby fans comes the next big event, and it’s in Plainfield, Indiana this weekend: the auction of an unrestored 1968 Shelby Cobra Mustang GT500-KR with just over 9,000 claimed original miles.
As reported on BringATrailer, the Shelby is one of four vehicles offered in an estate sale, along with the typical household and outdoor goods. Yet somehow, we get the impression it will overshadow the knickknacks and lawnmowers.
The 1968 GT500-KR routed air through its functional hood scoop to a 428 cubic-inch Cobra Jet V-8 with 360 horsepower, mated to either a three-speed automatic transmission or a four-speed manual, the latter being present in this car. By no means a 100 percent complete time capsule, it has escaped over-restoration and a high-profile auction flip.
Then again, this is already a high-profile affair among collectors, and we wouldn‘t be surprised if passionate bidders pushed the Shelby into six-figure territory before the winner pushes it onto his or her trailer. From there we can only imagine what it will take to charm this snake back to life. But judging by the period video road test we unearthed a while back, it would be worth the effort.
At least a rich backstory is included with the car. As alleged by Earl’s Auction Company overseeing the sale, it belonged to longtime local resident Ruth Hughbanks, who passed last year at age 84. Her son Bill had the car specially built and bought it new. After he took ill and died in 1980, she kept the car as-is and drove it around town–quite sparingly, if the odometer’s 9,159-mile reading is original as reported. The accumulated cobwebs, dirt and 2004 license plates suggest nobody’s prowled Plainfield with it in some time.
On top of it all, a rare find under unique circumstances begets interest. Interest begets drama. There’s no shortage of either online. Parties claiming to be familiar with the car and family seem adamant about the car’s history, miles and originality. Shelby experts and general skeptics are plentiful, debunking this is an off-the-rack 109,159-mile car with its share of aftermarket and missing parts.
Neutral bystanders like us are just curious to see what unfolds.
What do you think will happen with this sweet barn find? Head over to the Forum and sound off!