Hot. It was hot in Southern California, 75 all anniversary and climbing. Bright dejected day. No clouds above. The sun bore bottomward aloft the foreheads of bodies sitting on their sundecks, afraid through their chinos. And this was the asleep of winter — mid-January, and aback the blow of the apple was blasting snow, Los Angeles hit the bank en masse: active up the 10 to Santa Monica in a cacophony of umbrella-laden beach-goers. On a day like this, up and bottomward the Pacific Coast Highway, all the convertibles appear out to play: all the Miatas, the Corvettes, the Honda S2000s, the casual 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL, the late-model Boxsters, the prepaid-fuel V6 Mustang specials from Hertz abounding of East Coasters putting off the blasting of snow for as continued as their vacation amalgamation will allow.
And us? Why, we were artlessly the baddest guys on the block, in our Shelby Mustang GT500 — 662 hp account of supercharged Kraftmensch, Oppenheimer’s of worlds. Why, bodies were snapping their necks at us! Men in busy Camaros slinked by, defeated. Dodge Challengers affected to avoid us. Motorcycles rode past, advancing up from the ancillary as they paused in amid lanes, squinting: What is that? That looks like an old Mustang of some sort, apparently a Shelby. Like one of those aboriginal ’70s ones. Wait. There’s article aloof a little off about it…
The adorableness of the Retrobuilt Shelby GT500, explained its owner, Donald Morton, is that it combines all the looks of the 1969 Shelby GT500 with the mechanics of the 2013 GT500, or bisected a aeon of automotive progress. Morton should know. He’s got one of those too, a 1969 GT500 Cobra Jet convertible rendered in Grabber orange. His added Shelby — allegation be nice to say that — is a 1966 GT350H. “I’m a absolute car person,” he asserted, somewhat argot in cheek. (We shall hope, anyway.) “A absolute car person. Not one of those Ferrari guys. Ferrari guys,” he winked, “are ashore up.”
Morton is a angular man in his mid-50s; a businessman, a believing enthusiast, and addition who occasionally refers to himself in the third person. He accumulated his cyberbanking backbone from advance cyberbanking and absolute estate, and now lives on a agronomical south of Missoula, Mont., area he raises beasts beasts and stashes abroad a acceptable block of his 20-car accumulating in a beautifully accomplished garage. Aback he aboriginal confused in, he started talking about his added cars, the Hemis that he has in California — aing affair he knew, his neighbors anticipation he was, like, Kid Rock or something, and that his wife was Pamela Anderson. “And again the aing rumor was that I endemic 12 band clubs in LA! You know, I saw Kid Rock already and I absolutely don’t see the resemblance.”
Among his collection: a 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda, a 1970 Challenger, >a brace of Chargers, a 1966 GTO, a Mercedes 560 SEC, which I told him was a biologic dealer’s car. “How do you anticipate I was able to get that Shelby?” he countered.
He got that Shelby through six weeks of waiting. Retrobuilt builds about three of these rebodied Mustangs per month, bound to chump demand. All S197 Mustangs — from 2005 up — are welcome. In their branch in Lamar, Mo., Retrobuilt performs the fiberglass conversions, the paint, and the decals, a action that takes about six weeks. Total amount of conversion: about $32,000. The interior, which is banausic and already abundantly retro, is rendered actuality in Ultraleather, which is synthetic, waterproof, and stain-resistant. Don’t alarm it vinyl — abnormally because it amount $4,000 to upholster the absolute autogenous in red. It matches Donald’s baseball cap. Lastly, atramentous metalflake acrylic and decals will run $1,500. On top of a 2013 Shelby GT500 convertible’s abject amount of $60,445 (including $795 destination charge), a Retrobuilt Shelby such as this will run $97,945.
Donald was so amorous with the car that he collection it beeline home from the Missouri branch — and through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Los Angeles, again aback to Arizona for the Barrett-Jackson auction, and again to San Diego area he lives bisected the year in Carlsbad, and again to the parking lot of Outlaws Bar and Grill on Culver Boulevard in Playa Del Rey, area we met.
“Everywhere I go, bodies stop me. I go to the Starbucks in Arkansas, everybody comes out. I got this one guy who wants to go for a ride, and I’m like, don’t you accept coffee to serve?”
Right again some antagonistic hipsters approached, cigarettes in hand. “That’s a absolute nice car,” one piped up. “Jesus Christ.”
“Yeah, it’s absolute shiny,” said the other. “Have you apparent my Subaru?”
All smiles in the Retrobuilt GT500. Photo by Blake Z. Rong
Morton has no amalgamation with Retrobuilt — he aloof happens to be their best agog cheerleader, owning the aboriginal car Retrobuilt has completed this year, the aboriginal based on the 2013 Shelby GT500. And we would be the aboriginal to drive Morton’s baby. He fabricated this absolutely bright on assorted occasions.
As always, Lucifer resides aural the embellishments. The exhausts aren’t absolutely accurate, but the pipes do absolutely avenue out of that centermost animate bank the size, appearance and accomplishment of an automated air conditioner. The awning doesn’t absolutely fit in any affinity of the word, abrogation console gaps in the advanced that would accomplish Saturn owners bawl with envy. It’s because Retrobuilt doesn’t accept a way to bright the 2013 Shelby GT500’s Eaton supercharger. Give it an added inch or two off the top, Morton says, and it should be altogether fine. The decals are bubbles and don’t absolutely fit with the bodywork, article he affairs to redo. Aloft afterpiece inspection, the chrome doesn’t absolutely blanket about the pointy bonanza either, endlessly abbreviate about an inch. Hey, they were congenital like that aback in 1969. And aback images of the car begin their way to the nether realms of amusing media, commenters anon leapt to it with pitchforks, with one snarkster activity as far as to characterization it a “Shelbortion.”
Otherwise, it’s all accepted Shelby GT500 — which is to say, explosive. Appropriate there happens appropriate now. The auto will call in third gear, “and you can feel the rear end aggravating to breach loose,” smirked Morton. The clamp is annealed in traffic, the gearbox is appealing acceptable for a Mustang, and the agent sounds arresting — all supercharger beef and apprehensible shrieking, abundant to outrun any doubts as to how the blow of the car looks. “This is an absorbing car to drive,” said Senior Motorsports Editor Mac Morrison aback he collection the 2013 Shelby GT500. “Not atomic because of its adeptness to absolutely apathetic time down.” If the fiberglass posture-cladding added any weight of note, it wasn’t felt. Puttering about the Venice Bank traffic, the GT500 was accommodating and bland and never bitchy in the way a 662-hp V8 is — a attestation to how far 40 years of automotive technology has progressed.
And for that reason, Morton gets a bang out of cogent bodies it’s a 2013. Wouldn’t you?
“So I was activity bottomward the artery in west Texas, accomplishing 85, you know, because it’s 80 out there. And out of the bend of my eye I see this artery constable in the added lane. And I see him, and I go accomplished him, and he pulls out and crosses the median. So he’s abaft me. Again he pulls to my ancillary and gestures me to cull over. And he comes up to the commuter ancillary and says, ‘You know, I abhorrence to cull you over, but I aloof capital to see this car, it’s beautiful! Is it the one with the Trinity engine?’ And I go, ‘How did you apperceive it was a 2013?’ He says, ‘Because I ran your plates.’”
We stop at Duke’s, a beachside restaurant congenital on the cliffs of Malibu. Unsurprisingly, it’s packed. Morton has never had anyone aide this car, and he abiding as hell isn’t activity to alpha now. With permission, we esplanade appropriate in front, appropriate by the entrance. Morton eats it up. One guy cranes his close into the autogenous like he’s belief Egyptian hieroglyphics. “Does it feel like a artificial abominable allotment of junk?” he asks, again realizes what he’s said. “…uh, like best new cars, you know?”
Morton is nonplussed, anytime smiling, acquisitive to cloy curiosity. He revels actuality an actionable and contributed — to our ability — agent for Retrobuilt. Tomorrow, his car is activity to be featured in Mustangs Monthly, a applicable publication. And afterwards he’s active it beeline to Montana, but not afore overextension the Retrobuilt actuality in LA for a few days.
“Have you anytime been to Barrett-Jackson?” he asked me. “It’s huge. You esplanade three afar abroad and you get on buses to the venue, the bigger buses imaginable. And Ford has the primo spot, an acre of new cars appropriate in the middle. They got every new car, they got two cars annoyance antagonism in the center, they got appealing girls…and appropriate aing to it is Shelby American. Not a distinct Retrobuilt in there. Aloof think: Ford, Shelby…Retrobuilt.”
It’s not to everybody’s tastes. Hell, it’s not to the tastes of bisected the Autoweek office. But it gets attention, nonetheless, for bigger or for worse. It drives like a new car, because it is. Squint from beyond a parking lot, and it’s an old car. Few rides accept that chameleon-like power.
“Is there annihilation you don’t like about this car?” we crowd Morton, “anything you’d change?”
“Nothing,” he says. “It’s perfect.”
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