The Ultimate Mustang Barn Find? 1968 Shelby GT500 KR

When it comes to the world of barn finds, I’m sure there are more than a few people here that dream of finding a genuine Shelby Mustang parked in a barn. If you are in that category, this find by Reader Andy B will make you more than a little jealous! He had heard stories about what was parked inside this barn, but he hadn’t ever actually seen it. That was until his neighbor asked if he would be willing to help him either sell one of his cars or even buy it outright. When he went into the barn, he found a genuine 1968 Shelby GT500 KR! Could this be the ultimate barn find?

From Andy- Last week my neighbor asked if I wanted to buy his car or help him sell it. I have never seen the car but I have been hearing about it for a long time and as the story goes, it is pretty legendary. My neighbor isn’t much of a car guy but knows that I like cars, have a pretty respectable collection and have been through a few restorations, so he assumed I could at least point him in the right direction. The car is a 1968 Shelby GT500 KR and it was my neighbor’s uncle’s car. The title to the car was issued in 1970 but there is speculation that this car was purchased brand new. This is one piece of the story that we are missing. The Marti Report confirms that 8T02R is, in fact, a built-in 1968, Shelby 2-Door Fastback, 428-4V CJ V-8 Engine GT-500KR, Metuchen N.J., #2423 production, “I” Lime Gold Paint with Saddle Vinyl Luxury Bucket Seats, Tilt-Away Steering Wheel, 3.50 Traction-Lok Rear axle, and the 4-speed manual transmission.

Uncle Tom loved this car and drove it hard. There are plenty of stories of him terrorizing the local towns and would perform the $20 dollar bill challenge by putting the $20 on the dash and if the passenger could grab it before he hit fourth gear, you could have it. I guess he never was out any money. He even painted the inside of the wheel wells white and put green auxiliary lights in there to give the car a green glow. I found evidence of these aluminum “screws” that would screw into the front springs, jacking the front up. I never knew these existed. He completed the aggressive look by dropping the rear springs with the adjustable hanger bracket so that it could fit much larger rear tires mounted on Torq Thrust wheels. There is also evidence of attending car shows with various plaques adorned on the woodgrain dash along with a giant plaster snake that he would set on the roof at these shows.

In 1992, there was an exhaust manifold bolt broken, so Uncle Tom had removed the engine to get the block drilled out. While it was out, he went ahead and had the engine rebuilt. He had the car on a small car trailer in the yard so he could quickly get the engine back in just as soon as the rebuild was completed, but things took a turn for the worse. He got sick with kidney failure and he never made it see the engine finished. The car sat on the trailer in the yard for some time.

When Uncle Tom passed, he had no wife or children of his own, so he left his house to his niece, his truck and fishing boat to his nephew, and the KR to his other nephew, my neighbor. Now my neighbor may not be the gear head that the rest of us are, but he knew that this car was very special and he needed to be taken care of it. So the car went from the yard to the barn at Uncle Tom’s where it was expected to be safe for the time being. My neighbor was working his way through college and had no money to spare. He had made contact with the engine builder, gave him $500 toward the project and they agreed they would stay in touch and he would continue to give the builder money when he could. Well, life happens. My neighbor got caught up with life, bought a house, started a family, started his own business and proceeded to really make something of himself. He is a good friend, the best neighbor I have ever had; he even adopted a child, that’s evidence of his respectable character. Except the car was forgotten, or at least put on the way, way back burner.

Now it is time to resurrect the car from its 28-year hibernation in that barn, and this isn’t the typical barn find, fling the doors open and push the car out, that you might be expecting. We had 6 men moving various household items, tires, gardening supplies and trash for an entire morning before we could really even see the car. The barn is on the bank of a large river with a steep grade behind it. No sun seem to ever hit the barn and the door was jammed up for the last 28 years. Needless to say, everything was wet in the barn and the car did not appreciate this.

She is rough from sitting in the damp barn but at least it was up off the floor on the little car trailer, which might have helped some, but the rust has been aggressive. Torque boxes are blown out, there are perforations around the rear window, quarter panels are all the way through, rear bumper rotted through, all badging ruined, interior completely moldy, cracked and eaten by critters, wheels and possibly the rear end are locked up, and of course, no engine. Is this project savable? Anything can be saved for the right amount of money, right? To make it worth it, all the numbers better match which leads us back to the engine.

In 1992, a local fellow who was known to be a great engine builder decided to open his own shop. He was also just getting started and money was tight. Uncle Tom was one of his first customers with a project of drilling out a manifold bolt and rebuilding the legendary 428 Cobra Jet. The builder agreed to take on the project and got started on it right away. He broke it down, sent the block out to get it decked, bored, honed, all that fun stuff. He had quite a bit of money into it. Then Uncle Tom passed during all of this so the builder never really got paid.

I finally made contact with the builder and he is obviously not happy about the whole situation. That was a tough time in his life to put out that kind of money and he is disappointed in how my neighbor handled the situation. I invited him to come to look at the car and he became even angrier once he saw it. He remembers the car being very nice when the engine was taken out and to see it in its current state makes him think my neighbor didn’t do enough to take care of it. He is also angry about how my neighbor didn’t stay in contact or attempt to continue to pay him. He doesn’t want to speak or even see my neighbor and he certainly wouldn’t just hand him back the engine. After all, he has had it for 28 years.

I asked if I could pay for the work, or whatever he wanted to make it right. He laughed and said, “that is MY engine now”. And he is right. I’m not even going to argue that. He put money into it, never got paid, and kept it all these years. Of course, it is his engine now. But it just so happens that he is also a Mustang fan having his own 1970 428 drag pack Twister addition. I’m not familiar with that car so I may not have the name correct, but he showed me pictures and it is a beautiful car. He was good friends with Uncle Tom and wants to see the car come back to life. So can I buy the engine? “Yes, but not with cash. Cash means nothing to me these days.” Oh boy, what am I getting myself into? “I want MY car finished and you and your crew can get it done. There are a few pieces missing and the engine bay needs to be cleaned up, 428 installed, driveline sorted out and the pieces that I need are rare, specific to this car and I can’t find them.” The builder is an older gentleman who may not be that internet savvy so I can see how we can really help each other out. A rough calculation of the parts and labor is looking to be about a $15,000 project. I would say that is fair to get the original 428 back to the KR. That deal is for me and me only because he knows that I will see the project through. He would kill me if I did this deal only to give the engine back to my neighbor. I must own it or we are splitting to profits

Now I am not much of a Mustang guy, but I could be if I could get this car. This is the Grand Poobah of Mustangs after all. And my neighbor knows what he has. At least he thinks he does. The problem is the amount of money he wants for basically a rusty shell. He has seen these cars go for $200,000+ in 2008 and of course, that is what he is going to base his calculations on. He doesn’t understand the amount of money it is going to take to bring this baby back. The market on muscle cars is slipping, and look at what is happening in our lives right now. I think I could easily have $120,000 in it plus the $15,000 engine. I don’t want to disclose what he wants for the car as I’m still trying to work the deal; I would love to end up with this car but I can’t be stupid about it. I would make sure the story of Uncle Tom lives on through this car and I would be just another custodian in the history of it. If I can’t make a deal on the car, I will certainly get it advertised and help my neighbor get what he wants for it. It has been a roller coaster so far and I’m just glad that I could be part of this whole story. But at some point, someone will be heartbroken, and it might just be me.

We want to thank Andy for sharing this incredible find with us and we look forward to future updates! If you have an amazing barn find story you’d love to see posted on the site, send it to us via mail@barnfinds.com.

Like This? Get Our Daily Email

Comments

  1. poseur Member

    wow, what a story.
    certainly believable enough.

    but the condition of this once beautiful and special auto?
    i understand why the engine builder reacted as he did upon seeing it.

    hey, anything can be saved, rebuilt, restored.
    and this KR should be, and will be stunning when complete in Lime Gold.

    but without it’s original engine and as a rusted out relic it’s not worth more than maybe $50k at most today.
    and that feels generous really.

    Like 19
    • A.J.

      50K is very generous. I don’t see it and I’ve owned 2. They don’t sell for as much as what you see publicly advertised. Like most stuff.

      Like 24
  2. GuernseyPagoda Member

    Wow! What a story. Good luck, and props to Andy to try and make everything right.

    Like 13
  3. Howard A Member

    I’ll say, like finding a chunk of gold the size of a cinder block. While it’s quite a find, I’m appalled at the surroundings. Poor health or not, is no excuse to live like that, much less the most collectible car on the rock allowed to become this. It just shows, at one time, this was just someones beater Mustang they drove everyday to work in the slop. I wonder if they left it on the trailer for fear of it breaking in half. They were magnificent cars, and Mr. Shelby is spinning in his grave.

    Like 19
    • Barry Traylor

      I don’t understand people that use a garage ( or whatever) as a trash dump and a breeding ground for rats. You’d need a hazmat suit to in there. Disgusting

      Like 10
  4. Bob_in_TN Member

    Andy, thanks for taking the time to write this lengthy story, and for including many pics to help us understand what we were reading. However the plan proceeds from here, there are probably more twists and turns to come.

    Like 20
  5. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Extraordinary. And an example of why patience and diplomacy is often the only way to get some things to happen.

    Like 13
  6. bobhess bobhess Member

    Some story. Sort of blows my lifetime rule of not spending more than 20 minutes buying a car. Have owned over 60 cars and have managed to stick to that rule. I think the “hunt” for this car might be worth it even with the condition of the car.

    Like 9
  7. YellowCJ7

    It NEEDS that original engine to command the big bucks once it’s restored. The difference in “value” after restoring with the original engine vs any other engine will far exceed the $15K to buy the engine back. I don’t think the cost to restore could be recouped without the original engine. The market demands it.

    I agree with others the Muscle Car market isn’t as strong for the high end cars like it was in the mid 2000s. It was still fairly strong right up until COVID-19 and like the Stock Market collector cars should be about 30-40% off at the moment. Shelbys are extra special and I think they’ll be worth a premium over other muscle cars for the 60s/70s even as the market and more importantly demand will fall in the coming years. Boomers are getting old, Gen X’rs just don’t have the population numbers to equal the demand of the Boomers and Gen Y; while they are finally coming into their own in terms of wealth, just don’t see the appeal of Muscle cars like their grandparents. The hobby won’t die and demand won’t fall to zero it just is never going to be where it was 12-15 years ago.

    Like 18
  8. steve

    Poor car didn’t deserve this.

    Like 14
    • Dave

      No, it’s just as rotten as the 72 Cuda that was on here earlier. Nothing like having a mechanics lien on a pile of rust but any judge would ask why did you wait 28 years?

      Like 9
  9. Stangalang

    Pretty much the holy grail turned into holy crap..hopefully someone will bring it back to what it was..

    Like 16
  10. DRV

    Run away unless you can transplant numbers to another car using this motor and pray you can get your money back.

    Like 3
    • Chris M.

      And end up in jail for fraud!! Bad idea.

      Like 8
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        I read this and I think… RIGHT!

        Except, there Are exceptions.

        Particularly for competition cars built by enhancing/modifying the OEM tub/chassis, there are plenty of examples which have been “Rebodied”. As in, the original was crashed, burned, or befell some other calamity. So the special parts were pulled and restored/reclaimed/reused on another body. And the ID plates were transferred as well.

        Now, if someone sells one of those cars today without revealing the history, that would be bad, as there is a difference in value. Incredibly, it does not seem to be all that much? Perhaps racing cars are held to a different standard.

        I would guess that if this car were “rebodied”, as a street/collectible car there would be a lot of trouble following it forever. But we all know that a car in this condition will only contain a fractional percentage of original sheet metal parts by the time it reappears looking spiffy once more. Even if the body that the plates are attached to remains, at least in part, the same one.

      • Johnny

        You would be surprised what is in your house now–that is against the law. Do you know if you have a old gun with the numbers barely legible–is against the law. Some how and I find it pretty stupid and petty .The ATF has a gauge to see the depth of those numbers and letters tell if its legal or not. I call it BS. This car needs alot of parts replace.Completely taken apart and alot of money to buy the parts.Plus finding them. Some cars have the vin numbers on them. From the looks of the rust on this frame area. Its gone now. It would need new frame rails–floor pans. The owner is dreaming. All I see worth saving is the windows and maybe trunk and hooh.The rest needs replaced. I passed on a 66 Mustang a few years back and the pictures–It was shiney and nice.Went to buy it. Raised the hood and the left shock tower was rusted bad. He replaced the carpet and said the floors LOOKED REALLY . I asked if I could look under it and he afreed. The floors was rusted out.All was holding the car together was botton trim and very little metal. Plus it sat down in a hole and had a steep incline to get it out.Which would have broke the car into. I declined and the saker got mad.Better him mad then me. Plus I told him I was mad to.Paid a friend to take me their and he (saler) lide to me about the condition of the car. Pas on this. You can find them in better shape and drive-able. He couldn,t give car to me.

        Like 3
  11. Doug F Member

    Wow !!! So nice to see a real believable Barn Find !! Good luck to new owner !!

    Like 5
  12. Doug C

    Nice story. I have always like the bill, $20 here but usually $50, challenge. A few years ago I was demonstrating the off the line performance of a car that I had just bought that was a tiny bit quicker than this Shelby. As I hit the power peak in first gear he leaned forward and slapped the dash. I almost burst out laughing since I knew what he meant.

    The challenge story is amusing, but we all know that it a lot more G-force to “pin you in the seat”

    But all in all this is a nice story.

    Like 5
  13. David Hatch

    It needs that Number’s matching Engine and a Hell of a Metal Work, that someone with considerable knowledge would have to do. I’d think it’s going to take at least $125k minium just to make it look Factory New. That’s the problem with the internet everyone is an expert because the internet said so..

    Like 8
  14. midwestjeff

    Ok, my fellow barnfinds enthusiasts. What is the equally forsaken blue car in the garage? My guess is likely entirely wrong, so I’ll leave it to the experts.

    Like 2
    • Major Thom

      Was your guess a Triumph GT-6?

      Like 1
      • midwestjeff

        Nope, not even close. Let’s just say that my guess was SO far off that I’d rather not embarrass myself. I think you are right on the Triumph GT-6. Good eye!

        Like 2
  15. Rick Haner

    what a story is all I have to say….although I understand first hand how life can happen,how someone could treat such a special car as a KR this way is trully sad…I hope that your dilgence pays off and that you end up with the car…It deserves far better than the life it currently has… best of luck

    Like 2
  16. theGasHole

    Seller wants to base his price on auction prices from 12 years ago? Good luck with that. Next time I pull up to the gas station I’m going to tell them I want to pay the price per gallon from 1955.

    Like 4
    • TinCanSailor

      I think you are paying less than 1955 prices… adjusted for inflation.

      I am loving paying $1.59 per gallon in MD!

      Like 1
  17. 433jeff

    I read the story up to “Its my motor now” an had to stop. I get it. Seeing the first pic of the car without the trash in front and the green paint made me think it was mint. Untill i read about the moisture, too bad, one of my best cars gone now( for the moment) was stored in a earth garage, and when they did it over the body guy said it fell apart hard. It had rust on the roof, what Mother Nature doesnt get Father Time will.

    Like 2
  18. Hemidavey

    Awesome story! Walk away and go buy one all done -in your favorite color and show photos of this one when you tell the story. This one will break you.

    Like 2
  19. Comet

    This car will need to be a labor of love without consideration to costs.
    I’m sure it can be brought back by someone with deep pockets and a VERY understanding wife. I hope the Amish guy gets a ride in it when completed! Quite a contrast to a buggy. I wouldn’t raise a pig in that landfill generously referred to as a “barn.” What a shame!

    Like 3
  20. bikefixr

    I have a 289 from a ’66 Shelby bought from the engine rebuilder. Client never paid for it, it stayed wrapped for years. I bought it for the invoice. Years later, owner of the shell comes looking for it. Now we have a standoff. I have the engine in search of the shell, He has the shell in search of the engine. I can wait. He doesn’t have the $ to finish the car and he knows it.

    Like 2
  21. Comet

    Johnny,
    I have lots of stuff to worry about, but thankfully I can’t remember the last time the ATF checked depth of my gun’s serial numbers. Surly there’s better things to dwell on, foil hats come to mind.

    Like 3
  22. Lynn Member

    A few yrs ago someone found a boss 9 in a barn in northern PA that IMO beats this one for the ultimate bf

  23. PhilipI SCHMIDT

    mustang shelby someones else money pit simple.

    Like 1
  24. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    Strain my eyes as I might, I cannot make out anything more than a ghost of my imagination of a GT-6 hood bulge: can anyone actually see it? Otherwise, it is most likely a Triumph.

  25. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    Spitfire, that is. Damn, I miss the edit feature.

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Seems to come and go, that Edit thing….

  26. KARL

    Makes me wonder why the engine builder never sold the engine if he was so mad he never got paid – After a year or so most places would have sold it off to make up for the lost labor and this guy held on to the engine for nearly 30 years ?

    Like 2
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Many business owners don’t bother to go through the hassle of getting a court-approved lien/ownership approval. Without that, it is generally not legal to sell someone else’s property, although the laws probably vary from state to state. There may be time limits, monetary value limits, type of goods limits, etc.

      Like 2
  27. Kenn

    The current owner “…proceeded to really make something of himself..”? What, a champion hoarder? Interested in the car or not, life in the way notwithstanding, a barn full of trash certainly doesn’t reflect someone proud of his/her accomplishments and lifestyle.

    Like 2
  28. Stormbringr

    Is the other car a Triumph Spitfire or a GT6? I’m leaning toward Spitfire because I can’t make out if there’s a bulge in the center of the hood for six cylinder or not

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.