Take a good look at this red Mustang. Initially, one might think that this car is a survivor that has been kept pristine by its owner. However, that is not exactly the case as this pony car was actually restored to its former glory recently.
Called 'Little Red', this is actually a prototype that Shelby developed. Originally thought to have been destroyed and lost forever, the car was actually found in rural North Texas and has been meticulously worked on by Billups Classic Cars. But how exactly was it found and what is its significance to the Shelby Mustang legacy?
Little Red is actually a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 EXP. This 'experimental' vehicle has plenty of stories to tell, not to mention a lot of high-tech features for its time. For starters, it is the only notchback coupe for a Shelby, is the only GT model to have dual-quad carburetors, and it has a big-block 428 cubic inch (7.0-liter) V8 (older Shelbys only had small-block V8s). It can even be had with a Paxton supercharger kit which allows it to dole out more horsepower and torque.
Since Little Red was not exactly built for production, this car was only available to select engineers. Despite that, it was regularly driven by Shelby American. But after 1968, it was moved to storage and was presumably lost.
Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction, along with Jason Billups of Billups Classic Cars, Shell, and Pennzoil, decided to look for Little Red in hopes of restoring it. Eventually, they found it in a Texas property in March 3, 2018. With the help of Ford Mustang Expert Kevin Marti, they were able to confirm that the 'barnfind' pony car was indeed Little Red. Left out in the open, it was going to be quite the labor to get Little Red back into shape.
“Finding Little Red is the discovery of a lifetime. This Shelby prototype has been one of the most sought-after and elusive vehicles in postwar history. Countless enthusiasts and experts have searched for Little Red since it went missing in the 1960s. Many believed it was destroyed when the car was no longer needed. I’m excited to announce that was not the case. We’ve found Little Red and we intend to meticulously restore this legendary car back to its original glory,” said Jackson.
And that they did. Last January 16, Craig Jackson officially unveiled the restored Mustang at the 49th Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. Present during the reveal were key personnel from Barret-Jackson, Ford and American Shelby. These included: Jim Owens, Ford Mustang Brand Manager, Aaron Shelby, grandson of the late Carroll Shelby, and Steve Davis president of Barrett-Jackson.
In what could be one of the most important moments in automotive history, Little Red was joined by another experimental relic, the 'Green Hornet'. It's a 1968 Shelby GT500 EXP that comes with features way ahead of its time like: independent rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and electronic fuel injection. Today was the first time in history both experimental Shelby GT500 Mustangs have been seen together.
There is no word yet whether Little Red will be auctioned off (Green Hornet failed to sell despite its seven-digit price), but we won't be surprised if this little red Mustang will sell for even more than its green brethren. Either way, having one of the most important Shelby Mustangs restored back to its former glory is a sight to behold.