THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1967 Shelby GT500 owned by Rick Zappia
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Most Mustang aficionados know the legend of race driver/auto tuner Carroll Shelby, and how he teamed up with Ford in the 1960s and in recent years to modify ordinary cars into muscular, ultra-special rides for both the street and track. The Shelby GT500 certainly falls into that legendary category, with 1967 models featuring beefed-up mechanical bits, Shelby-only body and interior trim, and a humongous 428-cubic-inch Ford “Police Interceptor” V-8 engine pumping out a reported 355 horsepower. But Shelby kicked things up another notch by offering a race-bred, 425-horsepower, 427-cubic-inch powerplant in a very limited number of ’67 cars. And that’s where Zappia’s coupe comes in. He says his is one of only 47 documented original 427s, with three coming from the factory and the rest modified at dealerships or at Shelby’s California facility.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
As a high school student, he planned to buy another hot car of the era, the 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 351. But when a local classified ad for the Shelby caught his eye, he cancelled the Mustang order and scrounged the $1,835 needed to make the purchase. “My father told me I couldn’t buy the car until I had enough money for the insurance,” he says. “I sold everything I could, including my 1963 Fairlane.”
“The car is exactly the way it came out from Shelby,” says Zappia. “It has the lowered suspension in the front for handling and the lower air ducts that are piped into the back wheels to cool the brakes. It’s been repainted and the transmission has been rebuilt, but over the years, you have to do that to maintain it.” The Shelby was red when he bought it, but Zappia has returned it to its factory-original “Brittany Blue.” Based on research, he believes his car was photographed for a March 1967 ad in Motor Trend magazine. Zappia used to race the Shelby at regional tracks and was once clocked at 140 miles per hour.
“You’re going to have to pay in excess of $250,000 to get one with a 427,” he says. He has been offered more than $300,000 by an enthusiast. Shelby’s original 427 test car, nicknamed the “Super Snake,” sold at auction in 2013 for $1.3 million.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“It’s more than just dollars and cents to me,” says Zappia. “It’s more the prestige of owning this car. It’s something that few people have. The car is just phenomenal. If I want to go hot-rodding a little bit on the highway, I just jump on it and it pulls and pulls and pulls.”