A 4-Speed Shelby GT500KR Convertible Is A Very Rare Thing
Photography by Drew Phillips & Ted Gushue
Over the next few weeks and months we’re going to be profiling stand out pieces of a collection that rarely sees the light of day. Ted and Rae Segerstrom are a family that’s fully dedicated to preserving the legacy of Carroll Shelby’s greatest creations, and the first one I got to shake hands with was the GT500KR Air Conditioning 4 Speed Convertible. I also had the privilege of talking to the man who restored it himself, Shelby legend Tim Lea.
Ted Gushue: Tim, tell me about this car.
Tim Lea: This car is a ’68 GT500 KR convertible, four speed, air conditioned car. That, in itself, puts it in a very low production: 57 total made. Certainly, one of the most desirable Shelby models in existence. This particular one is car number 4308. It is a special paint yellow car. There were only five special paint yellow air-conditioned four-speed convertible cars made.
Ted Segerstrom has all five of them in his possession and are all being restored. This is the first one we completed. Car came to me, had 37,000 miles on it, was off the road since 1976, great car as far as the parts being there. It was very complete. It had been stored poorly, so it had some condition issues we had to deal with, but the car’s an amazing time capsule. Every body panel on this car is original fiberglass and sheet metal. All the glass is original. Car has its original headlights. Everything on this car works.
TG: Besides the low production run of this particular configuration, what makes it desirable to someone who’s looking at these?
TL: The KR, just the Cobra Jet engine, is just one of the most desirable engines because it’s just a great product that Ford turned out. It was the most powerful. It was the introduction of probably one of the most powerful production engines at the time. They rated them conservatively at 330 horsepower. They were probably pushing closer to 390, 400. If you were a hot rodding enthusiast or a street enthusiast, adding a few, simple components to the car would have enhanced that. The engines had an improved cylinder head over the previous 428 Police Interceptor models. They would just breath if you opened them up.
TG: How did this particular one enter this collection?
TL: Ted bought it, he’d have to give you the specifics on it, but he bought one, and then liked it so much, I believe he went looking for a second one. Then, in that process, found a third one. Then it’s kind of the chase is on. You know there’s five, and they located all five and bought all five.
TG: He owns the entire lot?
TL: He owns all of them. The only difference between the five is three have white tops, and two have black tops.
TG: Cool. This one just won at Mid America?
TL: Just won gold at Mid America, which most enthusiasts in the Shelby world, that’s where the most knowledgeable judges are consistently there. You get the top judges in the world that had their eyes on this car.
TG: How much restoration work had to be done to it?
TL: We restore them back to as if you went back to 1968 and walked in the dealership, so every part, even the stuff you don’t see. If you were to take off the door panel, it’s brand new inside there. We go through every single bit of it. First choice always is to take an original part and restore it. If there are condition issues, sometimes you have to replace that part with another. This class that he has us judge in allows reproduction parts, but they’re judged against how good they are originally. They still need to look exactly as original. Tires would be one example of a reproduction part that’s on this car.
TG: Incredible. What’s a car like this worth today?
TL: The four speed, air conditioning, KR convertibles, entry level is probably $250,000. That’s for the less desirable colors. When you get the blacks, the Acapulco blues, certainly the special paint cars, you got to be up to $350,000 I would think to play there. The fact that he owns all five together, you could probably increase that by another 20% I would think.
TG: He controls the market.
TL: It’s ultimately what someone’s willing to pay for it, but if you want a stellar car for your collection, this is a good place to start.