No Trailer Queen

1968 SHELBY G.T. 500KR

Mustang Monthly - - FRONT PAGE - Rich Trues­dell, as told by Bob Green­wood TEXT Jerry Heasley PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

keep them run­ning as long as I could. I still own a 1955 Ford Crown Vic­to­ria that I bought while in the Air Force. This car will be my next project.”

“While I was in the Air Force I had a nice 1964 Ford Galaxie 500XL. Af­ter see­ing the Shelby ads in car mag­a­zines, I knew I had to test­drive one. When I got out of the ser­vice, I wasted no time get­ting down to North­west­ern Ford in Mil­wau­kee to test­drive a Shelby. This was March of 1969, and the dealer had left­over 1968s and 1969s on the lot. A Candyap­ple Red ’68 G.T. 500KR caught my eye.

As a gas sta­tion me­chanic at the time, I knew I couldn’t af­ford the car, but I needed to test­drive it any­way. On the test­drive the sales­man who went with me said, ‘open it up.’ So I did! I was hooked and had to have it. The sales­man fig­ured out how I could get the money to buy it. Af­ter sign­ing pa­per­work for two loans the car was mine. I mar­ried Au­drey in May 1970, and the Shelby was our fam­ily car. By 1982 the car had 108,000 miles on it and was in bad shape, be­ing driven daily in Wis­con­sin through win­ters of snow and salted roads. I took it apart in 1982 and had nei­ther time nor money then to re­store it, so it just sat and took up space (many of the parts were stored in boxes in our base­ment). Af­ter 30 years, in the fall of 2013, it was back on the road. Now

it will never see snow tires or win­ter again.”

Bob re­stored the car him­self spend­ing more time on it as the kids grew up. He started out do­ing struc­tural work, as it was badly rusted and re­quired a lot of weld­ing. He says, “I am not a welder, but through trial and er­ror my skills at weld­ing im­proved. This part of the restora­tion took a lot of time, but not so much money. Af­ter I got the struc­ture re­paired the body was trail­ered to RT Restora­tion in Fond du Lac to put on the ro­tis­serie. Troy Oestre­ich welded on the new N.O.S. quar­ter-panels. I didn’t want to screw them up af­ter what they cost me. Troy pre­pared and painted the body with PPG base/ clearcoat Candyap­ple Red, as orig­i­nal. The in­side, en­gine com­part­ment, and bot­tom of the car were all painted to fac­tory specs as best we could.”

Af­ter the car was painted, it re­turned to Bob’s home for re­assem­bly. “I re­built ev­ery part and component on the car.

The whole car is re­stored to orig­i­nal, ex­cept a few items that can be eas­ily changed back to orig­i­nal. I in­stalled a neg­a­tive wedge kit and low­ered the up­per con­trol arms, in­stalled Flow­mas­ter muf­flers, and put real wood ve­neer in the cen­ter con­sole.”

Af­ter be­ing apart for al­most 30 years, re­assem­bly proved to be some­thing of a chal­lenge. “I had lots of pictures and hand-drawn schemat­ics of how the wiring was routed. When I had ques­tions and needed help with the assem­bly I con­tacted Jim Cowles of Shelby Parts & Restora­tion in Green Bay, Wis­con­sin, and Pete Disher in Lake Mills, Wis­con­sin, who is an ex­pert on 1968 Shel­bys. If you are a Shelby fan, check out his web­site at thec­o­ral­snake.com. I thank them both for their help and guid­ance. You can see my orig­i­nal in­voice on thec­o­ral­snake.com —go to thec­o­ral­snake.com/ North­west­ern.”

Bob’s Shelby is unique. As in Bob’s words, it was equipped with ev­ery­thing in 1968 that Ford of­fered. It has the Shelby-in­stalled roll­bar and shoul­der harness and cus­tom cen­ter con­sole, as well as all the fiber­glass parts. His car lacks air con­di­tion­ing or the op­tion of the FM ra­dio. For Bob, it’s just AM.

Bob’s G.T. 500KR is equipped with the 428 CJ en­gine rated at 335 hp, an 11.5-inch clutch, the closer­a­tio Top Loader four­speed transmission, 9-inch dif­fer­en­tial with 3.50 ra­tio Trac­tion-Lok and 31-spline axles, all re­built dur­ing the restora­tion process by Bob him­self. En­gine ma­chine work and bal­ance was done by Tim Hjelle at Fond du Lac Auto Ma­chine. “I found out the hard way that you need to in­stall pos­i­tive valve seals on the 428.

The stock seals didn’t do the job.”

“I am old and so is the car. I love driv­ing it and Au­drey loves rid­ing in it. The AM ra­dio works, but who needs it with a 428 CJ hum­ming as we drive down the road? Since the restora­tion was com­pleted we have been driv­ing the car about 4,000 miles per year. The break-in trip was to Las Ve­gas for the Mus­tang 50th An­niver­sary. We did the Pony Drive, tak­ing Route 66 as much as possible. What a blast! We’ve also been to Stur­gis, South Dakota, for the Mus­tang Rally and toured the Black Hills. An­other road trip was to drive to In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana, for the MCA 40th An­niver­sary and then con­tin­ued on the Pony Drive through

the New Eng­land states. Driv­ing the wind­ing roads and hills through the moun­tains was to­tal fun.”

Bob notes that com­pared to the new cars his Shelby is work to drive. “It shifts hard, power steer­ing is to turn and wait for it to re­spond, and brakes leave a lot to be de­sired. At 12 to 14 miles per gal­lon, we visit a lot of gas sta­tions on long-dis­tance trips. We en­joy driv­ing this Shelby more than any­thing. No mat­ter where we go peo­ple are tak­ing pictures with their cell phones and many thank us for driv­ing it so oth­ers have a chance to see a ‘real Shelby.’ The car has made it possible to meet many new friends.”

When asked about the car’s most unique at­tribute, here’s what Bob had to say: “In all the years I’ve owned this car since new, it has never seen a trailer ex­cept when it went to the restora­tion shop and back home again—about eight miles. This car also still has the fac­tory hub­caps, and we have owned this Shelby since new. We show the car all sum­mer in Wis­con­sin and put it in the Show & Shine in Stur­gis in 2015. A real thrill for us was when we re­ceived the Premier Award in the mus­cle car class at the

2017 Mil­wau­kee Concours d’El­e­gance.”

With the pas­sage of time, pri­or­i­ties change, as Bob notes. “The car is to­tally dif­fer­ent fun now than it was when we were young. The ex­pe­ri­ences we’ve had with the car since restora­tion are price­less. Drive your Mus­tang while you can and en­joy ev­ery mile.” We can­not agree more.

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