Restored “Little Red” 1967 Shelby GT500 EXP prototype to debut at Barrett-Jackson tomorrow
Last we heard of the long-lost 1967 Shelby GT500 EXP prototype coupe known as “Little Red,” Craig Jackson of Barrett-Jackson auctions had found it in a field in a rural part of northern Texas. When the announcement dropped last August, Jackson indicated he was planning to fully document the car’s restoration. Now we know the fully reborn Little Red will be unveiled tomorrow at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale venue during 2020 Arizona Auction Week.
The restored Shelby prototype will be presented to the crowd in Arizona alongside another of Jackson’s recent Shelby experimental projects—the 1968 Shelby EXP 500 known as “Green Hornet.” Also the subject of a recently completed restoration, the Green Hornet is a nice match for Jackson’s first-off-the-production-line 2020 Shelby GT500, which will also be in attendance. Mustang fans, pack your handkerchiefs, because your forthcoming drool is totally understandable.
To recap, Little Red is a ’67 notchback that served as the first Shelby Mustang coupe and prototype for the Mustang California Special. In late 1966, it was sent from Ford’s plant in San Jose, California, directly to Shelby American in Venice, California. As part of its prototype duties, according to the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) World Registry, Little Red was the subject of several mechanical and cosmetic modifications. After arriving at Shelby HQ, the new 1967 Shelby nose, spoiler, and side scoops were added, as well as the full 1967 Shelby GT500 suspension. Later in 1967, Shelby updated Little Red to match the 1968 model year and added S-H-E-L-B-Y letters across the rear decklid. As part of this process, a 428 with a Paxton supercharger, and mated to a Toploader four-speed, replaced the factory 390 V-8. Later iterations included a twin-Paxton setup paired with a C6 three-speed auto.
What’s crazy is that Little Red was almost found more than two decades ago. When the current owner first took possession of the car way back when, the owner contacted SAAC to verify its identity. SAAC dismissed the claim, thinking the car had been destroyed at Kar Kraft in Brighton, Michigan. Evidently not. The owner then drove the car for several months before it overheated, leading to the removal of the radiator, among other parts. After the parts were stolen from the owner’s garage, Little Red migrated out into the field, where it sat out under the Texas sky for nearly 20 years.
At the time of the discovery, Jackson said that the restoration would be documented in detail at www.shelbyprototypecoupes.com, but so far we haven’t seen anything since the original announcement in August 2018. We can’t wait to see Little Red in the metal tomorrow. Check back for more details then.