One of the most sought-after Shelby Mustangs in history has been found, and you can play a role in its eventual restoration.
When Craig Jackson, BarrettJackson CEO, decided to take his 1968 Shelby G.T. 500 EXP prototype out of storage and send it out for a thorough, historically accurate restoration (“The Green Hornet Will Fly Again,” Apr.
2018), restorer Jason Billups made an offhand comment to Jackson along the lines of, “Now all we need to do is find Little Red. How cool would that be?”
At the time, those chances seemed slim and none. Collectors had been hunting for the car for decades, with no luck.
Little Red was a 1967 Mustang notchback coupe powered by a big-block V-8 that Carroll Shelby used for powertrain development. Research is still being done to determine what kinds of engines, drivetrains and power add-ons were tested by Shelby American, though it is known that a Paxton supercharger was among the upgrades. At the time it was the only notchback Mustang that Shelby converted, and would be until the Green Hornet was produced. Due to their notchback coupe design, Little Red and Green Hornet were instrumental in the decision by the leadership at Ford Motor Company to produce the limited-edition Mustang GT/CS California Specials.
Like most prototypes, Little Red was supposed to be crushed after its usefulness as an experimental-prototype ended. That didn’t happen. No one knows how the car escaped that fate, or where it was between its time with Shelby American and 1970. But that’s the year a returning Vietnam vet bought it from a Ford dealership in Colorado. Eight years later he sold it to a man who drove it for about six months before it developed engine trouble. He planned to restore the car, but those plans were put on hold after thieves stole the Mustang’s engine, transmission, and front clip. At that point the car was put in long-term storage.
It was Billups who figured out the key to finding Little
Red. While other treasure seekers tried to track the car by Shelby serial number, Billups sought and found the Mustang’s original VIN, and used that to trace its ownership. Billups contacted the current owner and visited the car with automotive journalist Al Rogers and longtime friend Todd Hollar. After carefully studying the evidence before him, Billups reached out to Kevin Marti, who helped verify it as the long-lost prototype Little Red. The owner, realizing he didn’t have the resources to restore such an historic Shelby, sold it to Jackson.
Jackson is taking an unusual approach to this restoration— crowdsourcing. He has set up a web page (shelbyprototypecoupes.com) where people with knowledge of Little Red and her little brother Green Hornet can provide information and photos about them. That material will be used to determine how to most accurately restore them. The site has turned up a few leads already: Longtime car journalist/PR guy Marty Schorr provided photos of Little Red he took at a Shelby press event at Riverside Raceway.
Shell and Pennzoil have signed on to help Jackson’s efforts in researching and restoring Little Red for a future documentary about the historic, one-of-a-kind 1967 Shelby coupe.
Little Red was unveiled at a private reception at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, on Friday, August 17, 2018, prior to the annual Woodward Dream Cruise. It then spent Saturday at the Dream Cruise, displayed in the Shelby tent in Mustang Alley, then made its way to Ford World Headquarters on Sunday for the annual Mustang Owners Club of Southeast Michigan show.
n Little Red had been sitting in a Texas field for 20 years when the team of Jason Billups, Craig Jackson, Al Rogers, Jeff Catlin, and Todd Hollar saw it for the first time.
n Little Red in its heyday, photographed at a Shelby press event at Riverside by Marty Schorr.