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Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Drew Hardin Pho­tos: Al Rogers

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.

MAR­TYN L. SCHORR PHOTO

n Lit­tle Red in its hey­day, pho­tographed at a Shelby press event at River­side by Marty Schorr.

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