Banks Mustang goes for big bucks

Riley Riley

You get the feeling Ford wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for the Mustang.

They reckon no matter what you pay for one of the cars, you’ll always get your money back.

Another highly collective one has just changed hands at Mecum auction in the United States for $209,000 US dollars.

The 1968 Shelby GT500 KR convertible was originally owned by Chicago Cubs baseball star Ernie “Mr Cub” Banks and was part of the estate of Chicago real estate developer James Petrozzini.

As well as one of baseball’s all-time greats, Banks was also the first African American Ford dealer in the United States after he and, Bob Nelson, went into business together.

Nelson was a pilot and one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen during during the Second World war.

The pair got their start with the help of Chicago Cubs owner Phil Wrigley, who was a friend of Henry Ford II and also their first customer.

1968 was the first and only year that Shelby offered a Convertible version of its GT500 Mustang.

With the Cobra Jet engine, only 517 of these convertibles were produced before a major change in bodystyle the following year.

The KR model was also equipped with a modified suspension and saw the introduction of a padded roll bar behind the seats that acted as an anchor point for the seatbelts.

The 428 CJ V8 (7.0-litre) was conservatively rated 335 horsepower (250kW) , but in reality is said to have made more than 400 horsepower (300kW) and 440 pounds-feet of torque (597Nm).

The KR model was fitted with unique fibreglass nose panels, fibreglass hood with working scoops, air-extraction vents, decorative bodyside intakes, and a tail spoiler with sequential turn signals from the Thunderbird.

The initials KR by the way stood for “King of the Road.”

The story goes that Carroll Shelby learned that Chevrolet was about to launch a marketing campaign that highlighted the 1968 Corvette as the ‘King of the Road.’

After a quick copyright search, he discovered that ‘KR’ and ‘King of the Road’ had not been copyrighted.

Stickers, photos, and decals were reportedly quickly made and placed on the new GT500.

Ford dealers sold 1570 GT500KR models in 1968: 1053 fastbacks and 517 convertibles.

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