Is bigger always better?

Image/Juanyo, CC BY-SA 3.0

In the eyes of performance-minded automotive consumers of the 1960s, the answer was a resounding yes. So when Carroll Shelby mated the newly redesigned 1967 Ford Mustang with a modified Police Interceptor 428-cubic-inch engine to create the first big block-powered Shelby GT, performance enthusiasts loved it. In fact, the new big block-powered Shelby GT500 outsold its popular small block counterpart, the Shelby GT350, by a margin of 2,048 to 1,175.

And so began the rise of the 1967 Shelby GT500—the #1 Mustang on our list of all-time greats.

While the Shelby GT350 arrived as the original high performance Mustang two years earlier, the 1967 GT500 upped the ante with 355 horsepower and faster 0-60 mile-per-hour times—and did it for a reasonably affordable price. The modified 428 big block satisfied the consumers need for power and a roll bar and shoulder harnesses came with most vehicles right out of the showroom. In addition, the 1967 GT350 and GT500 models both featured Shelby-exclusive styling that, for the first time, helped differentiate the Shelby models from the basic Mustang style. Some of these new details included a fiberglass nose extension and hood, functional hood scoop, unique grille with two 7-inch driving lights, upper and lower rear scoops, and fiberglass deck lid with spoiler.

Over 30 years after its introduction, the 1967 Shelby GT500 reached pop culture icon status when it was featured as “Eleanor” in the movie Gone in Sixty Seconds. Although a number of Mustangs portrayed Eleanor in the movie, the hero car—the one featured in close-ups and promo materials—sold at auction for $1.1 million dollars in 2013. Today, the 1967 Shelby GT500 remains one of the most desirable American vehicles ever and was a personal favorite of Carroll Shelby himself.

“This is the first car I’m really proud of,” Shelby told Car and Driver magazine in a May 1970 interview.

Star power. Cultural icon status. And Shelby-approved. That’s the 1967 Shelby GT500—our #1 Mustang of all time.

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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.