Built from blueprints, the only fuel-injected 1968 Shelby fastback runs again
Fuel injection is something that most modern drivers take for granted. Many have never tinkered with a carburetor or fiddled with a choke on a cold morning, because, by the ’80s, electronic fuel injection had almost completely taken over in new cars and trucks. The technology is much older than that, however, and this rare, experimental GT500 shows that Shelby was toying with the idea of a hot-rodded Cobra Jet back in 1968, more than 15 years before the first Mustang would leave the factory with fuel injection in 1984.
Mercedes was an early adopter of fuel injection; the beautiful 300SL Gullwing used direct injection and was, in hindsight, way ahead of its time. Chevrolet and Pontiac each began introducing mechanical port injection in 1957, but the option was short-lived, particularly at Pontiac, which pulled the induction system in ’58. Ten years later, seeing fuel economy and emission restrictions closing the window on the muscle-car era, Shelby toyed with offering fuel injection on small-block and big-block engines alike. Unfortunately, they never went into production.
Shelby did, however, test various iterations of fuel injection from Bosch as well as from Conelec, a small company based in New York and founded by engineer David Long. Fred Goodell, Shelby’s chief engineer, was a fan of Long’s work and was impressed by the performance of the Conelec system.
Long designed the Conelec fuel injection system to adapt to Ford’s intake manifold and mounted a throttle body where the carb would normally sit. It is very much in the style of aftermarket fuel-injection systems that would later be offered by companies like Edelbrock, but, in the ’60s, Conelec didn’t have a vast catalog of OEM fuel injectors from which to choose. Instead, Long used his engineering genius to design his own injector. Very few prototypes were built and just two driving examples survive. One is the notchback Green Hornet. This is the other, 1968 Shelby GT #101.
This one-of-one prototype is finished in Sunlit Gold with a black interior and uses a three-speed automatic transmission. Besides the fuel-injected engine, it features some other unique hardware you’d expect to find on an engineering prototype. The console is a pre-production piece, as are the taillights. This may also be the first application of the Shelby twin-scoop hood, which was later used on the GT 500KR.
The car was the subject of a five-year restoration by Pete Disher, a Shelby expert who worked with the late David Long’s son Chris to trace down the blueprints and fabricate the necessary parts to get the Conelec fuel injection up and running. The Conelec injection system hides easily under the 428’s air cleaner. Aside from the small Conelec emblems on the fenders, you might never suspect that under the hood of this rare Shelby sits a triumph of engineering.
Barrett-Jackson will be auctioning off this historic Shelby this Saturday, March 27, at its Scottsdale event. The fact that it’s one of two running examples of the Conelec fuel injection and the only fastback model—thus wearing the archetypal Shelby look—should definitely make it a sale worth following.
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