The Shelby Mustang King of the Road is one of the most famous models to bear the Shelby name and is making a return this year to honour the company’s 60th anniversary.
A limited run of 225 units globally of the Shelby King of the Road is currently underway, with Shelby South Africa aiming to complete four of those between 2023 and 2024 as part of the local allocation. Shelby SA has already sold one of these highly sought-after models, with each one being built at the Shelby-approved modshop, situated in the Western Cape.
“Customers looking for the latest in personal expression and power are going to be rewarded by what the latest GT500KR has to offer,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager for Marketing at Ford South Africa. “This is the first time that this exclusive model is available for Mustang enthusiasts in South Africa, and epitomises everything that Carroll Shelby stood for,” says Mashinini.
Shelby founder Carroll Shelby was often called the ‘King of the Road’ for his ability to push the performance envelope, and this is only the third time in history that a version of the Shelby GT500 has carried the King of the Road name.
The first time was in 1968 when the Shelby GT500KR was powered by the 428 Cobra Jet V8 that was conservatively rated at 250kW. It was equipped with a modified suspension, redesigned front and rear end, custom fiberglass hood and Thunderbird taillights. Shelby added a functional roll bar and wood-rimmed steering wheel. Offered in both fastback and convertible, Ford dealers sold 1 570 GT500KR models in 1968 (1 053 fastbacks and 517 convertibles).
In 2008, Ford and Shelby brought back the GT500KR. Its supercharged V8 produced 402kW (30kW more than the standard GT500) and added a short-throw shifter, 3.73:1 rear axle and unique wheels, tyres, and tweaked suspension settings. A special composite hood with push button hood pins, unique stripes and badges distinguished this KR. A total of 1 000 cars were produced that year; demand was so great that Ford and Shelby agreed to build an additional 712 cars for 2009.
This third generation of the Shelby GT500KR – and the first to be offered in the right-hand drive Mustang – lives up to its KR badge by raising the horsepower to around 900hp (670kW) while sharpening the looks and handling. The combination results in the most extreme and refined Shelby KR to date – and places a stronger emphasis on track racing than the standard Shelby GT500.
Peter Lindenberg, CEO of Shelby South Africa, says that the KR is probably the most unique of all Shelbys available in SA because of the extremely limited numbers and power under the hood. “The GT500KR’s performance figures are unsurpassed for a rear-wheel drive muscle car. This is a long-awaited Shelby for the South African market as the enquiries for the high-performance, track-bred GT350 and GT500 have been extraordinary. This is the first time we are able to offer this icon in the Shelby range in South Africa,” says Lindenberg.
By upgrading the supercharger and coolers on the 5.2-litre V8, power has gone up by 105kW to a total output of approximately 670kW. If that doesn’t grab your attention, the lightweight carbon fibre hood, a saving of close to 14kg, and new alloy wheel design certainly will. Cornering agility is also improved thanks to a more aggressive suspension tune and sportier sway bars.
Inside, the GT500KR receives unique anniversary badging and each car includes membership of Team Shelby, the worldwide club Carroll Shelby established in 2008. Every vehicle is further documented in the official Shelby Registry alongside other rare Shelbys like the recently unveiled Shelby Speedster.
Estimated Pricing: Shelby King of the Road: R4.4 million, including VAT.