1960s Shelby GT500 Prototypes Restored Thanks to Craig Jackson

1960s Shelby GT500 Prototypes “Green Hornet” and “Little Red” on display after being restored by Craig Jackson for the Scottsdale, Arizona Barrett-Jackson auction.

There’s restoration, and then there’s the act of saving precious pieces of Ford’s automotive history. Such was the case when a pair of Shelby Mustang prototypes from the late 1960s were unearthed and brought back to life by Barrett-Jackson chairman and CEO, Craig Jackson.

It may have taken a hefty amount of time, money, and energy, but both GT500 prototypes are now fully restored, with the 1968 “Green Hornet” and a 1967 model known as “Little Red” receiving a reveal at this year’s Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction. Joined by two new Shelby GT500 Mustangs, the red and green vintage duo made their world debut after Jackson restored them to their original glory, both of which remain the only notchback coupes ever produced with a Shelby nameplate.

The 1967 Shelby GT500 prototype called “Little Red” was found in a field out in north Texas.

As the story goes, it was during the restoration of Green Hornet by Jason Billups of Billups Classic Cars, that Jackson made mention of finding the vehicle’s contrasting sibling, Little Red. The brightly pigmented notchback had gone missing years ago, and despite numerous efforts to locate its whereabouts, the vehicle remained an unsolved mystery in the annals of Ford history. However, Billups is not the sort to give up easily, and after spearheading a search that many thought to be a fool’s errand, the vehicle was unearthed in a field, way out in the rural plains of north Texas.

It’s pretty clear that whoever had this prototype either didn’t know what it was, or truly did not give a hoot about preserving priceless pieces of automotive history.

Long lost chassis procured, the team got to restoring both Green Hornet and Little Red to the point of perfection. While Billup’s crew went to work on these older models, Jackson focused on the latest version of the Shelby GT500, adding both a one-off Candy Apple Green and a Rapid Red 2020 model to his collection. Intended to serve as a clever way to tie the old models to the new, components like independent rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, electronic fuel injection, and superchargers showcase quite a few surprising similarities. Comparisons aside, we’re just happy to see these two classics restored to their former selves, something that we wish more vintage Ford cars could experience.

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About the author

Micah Wright

Raised on LEGOs by grandfathers who insisted on fixing everything themselves, Micah has been a petrolhead in training since age four. His favorite past times include craft beer, strong cigars, fast cars, and culinary creativity in all of its forms.
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