The GT350 was now equipped with a 351 cubic-inch V8. Production of Shelby Mustangs ceased with the 1970 model year, although on Belgian dealer request Shelby agreed to build 14 1971/1972 Mustangs, they were called “Shelby Europa” and sold only in Europe.
Basically, the Shelby Mustangs were reduced to just a custom styling job carried out on stock fastbacks and convertibles at Ford’s Southfield, Michigan, plant.
The main distinction was a new fiberglass nose with a big loop bumper/grille that added three inches to overall length. Shelbys had only two headlamps but bristled with air intakes — five on the hood alone. Wide reflective tape stripes ran midway along the flanks. Said C/D’s Brock Yates: “I personally can’t think of an automobile that makes a [better] statement about performance…. “
But the sad fact was that the ’69s were the tamest Shelbys yet, hobbled by more weight and less power. The GT-500 was no longer “King of the Road,” but retained that ’68 model’s CJ 428. Horsepower remained at 335 advertised but actually was down 25 by most estimates. The GT-350 graduated to the new 351 Windsor but claimed no more horses than before — or the more affordable new Mach 1 — leading Yates to call it “a garter snake in Cobra skin.” Adding insult to these injuries were record prices ranging from $4434 for the GT-350 fastback to just over five-grand for a GT-500 ragtop.
With the Mach 1, the dynamic Boss duo, and four Shelbys in the ’69 stable, some wondered whether Ford had too many hot Mustangs. The Bosses cost as much to build as the Shelbys, yet struck Yates as “a curious duplication of effort…. The heritage of the GT-350 is performance,” he asserted, “and it is difficult to understand why the Ford marketing experts failed to exploit its reputation.” Regardless, Shelby model-year production fell by fully 25 percent to 3150 units.