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Shelby American fully customized this 1997 Mustang GT, owned by Joseph Tice of Central Texas

Shelby American Returns to Roots with One-Off 1997 Mustang

An initiative to explore new business opportunities has resulted in a special one-off Shelby version of a 1997 Ford Mustang by Shelby American Inc. The car was recently delivered to its owner in Central Texas after the team at Shelby American reimagined the car as if the company had built it new in 1997.

“Shelby American has an extensive history of creating experimental cars and one-off customer vehicles during the 1960s,” said Joe Conway, co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Shelby American. “Because we’re still hot rodders at heart, we accepted this project in that tradition as part of our global business expansion initiative. Our goal was to create new opportunities for the company with projects that inspire the staff as we apply new technologies to other programs.”

Shelby American’s roots with these types of projects stretch back to one-off cars like the Green Hornet and Little Red from Shelby 50 years ago. The company’s history includes experimental cars like the twin turbo Ford Shelby GT500 named Code Red in the 2000s. 

An unusual opportunity from Central Texas was the latest in this line.

“Joseph Tice of Central Texas owned a 1997 Mustang GT and approached us to build a one-off car, as if there was a Shelby version offered that year,” said Gary Patterson, president of Shelby American. “He wanted it to look OEM, but feature contemporary technology and performance. It was much more of a challenge than anyone initially thought.”

The car was in a state of partial assembly when it arrived at Shelby American in Las Vegas. First, a creative brief with the parameters, goals and vision for the car was created. Then a handpicked team of craftsmen, led by Vince LaViolette, vice president of operations, completely took the car apart. No system was left untouched, from the interior to the new drivetrain, brakes, cosmetics and suspension.

“We literally took the Mustang down to the bones,” LaViolette said. “We hand built a supercharged 4.6-liter engine, rebuilt the transmission to handle it, transformed the suspension and added an incredible braking system. Inside and out, it became a showcase, but retains a factory feel. It even has a special badge, CSM100SPECIAL, with a serial number for the official Shelby Registry. It’s the Shelby that might have been if we’d been turning out Ford Mustang based cars in 1997. It’s a total sleeper that can kick tail on the street and mystify people with its unique provenance.”

The “Racer Red” 1997 Mustang includes:

  • Rebuilt 4.6L V8 engine
  • P1SC Procharger with Intercooler
  • Flowmaster Exhaust
  • Eibach Suspension upgrade
  • Adjustable Clutch Quadrant
  • Short Throw Shifter
  • Performance Driveshaft
  • New Shelby paint with factory racing stripes
  • Body Appearance Package
  • Performance wheels and tires
  • New hood
  • Shelby engine badge
  • New complete interior including seats, carpet and dash pad
  • Shelby gauge Pod

Custom programs are not new, as Porsche has its exclusive tailoring program, and even Aston Martin has its Q program. But this project went much further than most carmakers, according to Shelby.

“We built this car for someone who believed the only limits should be his imagination,” Conway said. “We’ve not yet determined if we’ll repeat this type of project again, but it certainly challenged our team. The success of this car certainly demonstrates the technical prowess and capabilities of Shelby.”