From November 5-8 back in 2019, car enthusiasts of all stripes were treated to a host of incredible exhibits and unveilings at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. One of this year’s more memorable moments was when Craig Jackson, CEO of the Barrett-Jackson auction company in Scottsdale, teamed up with Pennzoil and brought out the iconic 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500, famously known as “The Green Hornet.”
The backstory of the prototype, which we’ll get to in a little bit, is an fascinating one. But, long story short, the car was first restored in 1993, though there were some liberties taken with the restoration, and it wasn’t built to Shelby’s specifications. Ten years later, Jackson bought the car, but it wasn’t until 2018 that he had it completely restored to the original specs. At the 2019 SEMA Show, Jackson debuted the re-restored Green Hornet Mustang in all its glory.
While the iconic pony car while likely return to Jackson’s private garage, the unveiling at SEMA was no doubt a special moment for all lovers of car history. You can check out pictures of the re-restored Shelby Green Hornet here.
The History of the Green Hornet Mustang
The Green Hornet was one of two prototypes developed in 1967 via collaboration between Ford Motor Company and Carroll Shelby’s Shelby American. Originally painted Lime Gold, the Green Hornet was a testbed for the Ford Mustang California Special. Ford’s contributions to the Green Hornet included 1965 Ford Thunderbird taillights and a decklid spoiler, while spin-and-click hood pins were installed on the vented hood and Marchal fog lights were fitted to the grille.
Ford handed the Mustang over to Shelby American in 1968, where it was dubbed the Mustang EXP-500 and given a metal-flake green paint job. Shelby engineers, led by chief engineer Fred Goodell, took out the 390-cubic-inch big-block V8 engine and swapped it with a 428 CJ big-block V8 with Conelec fuel injection. The company also added an independent rear suspension, an upgraded front suspension, rear disc brakes, a six-speed automatic transmission, and side stripes. These modifications gave the Green Hornet a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 157 MPH.
But, where does that “Green Hornet” name even come from? As it turns out, none other than Bill Cosby gave the car its Green Hornet moniker, which was inspired by the favorite superhero of the Fat Albert characters. But, that’s not what makes the car so unique. While most prototype vehicles get destroyed, the “Green Hornet” survived the crusher. It ended up getting sold to a Ford executive and had several owners after that, until CEO Craig Jackson bought it in 2003.
As it turns out, the other ’67 Mustang prototype, known as “Little Red,” is also owned by Jackson. These cars were the only two notchback coupes built by Ford and Shelby, and both hold an extremely special place in classic car culture.
This post was originally published on November 13, 2019.