Comparing the exterior of the Shelby Mustang to a Stock Ford Mustang
The best way to show the differences is to post a picture of a ’68 GT Mustang next to a ’68 GT 350 Shelby Cobra
Both these cars came from Ford as a GT Mustang. The GT Mustangs have beefed suspensions to make the cars handle better than the stock Mustang. Shelby American took the Shelby Cobras up a step with better shocks, thicker sway bar and an Export Brace under the hood. The Shelby Export Brace is a one piece unit unlike the stock Mustang being a two piece.
Note the cosmetic exterior changes. The Shelby has an extended front end with stock bumpers. The front end is all fiberglass. The hood on the Shelby is fiberglass with two sets of vents on either side and the hood scoop opening across the front.
The side scoops were borrowed from the GT 40. On the Shelby Mustangs the top scoop covers the stock air panel and actually draws cool air in and warm air out.. The lower one is purely cosmetic.
The other change is the rear end. The Shelby has a fiberglass trunk lid with a small spoiler, also borrowed from the GT 40. The end caps are also fiberglass with the ends of the duck tail spoiler. Across the rear end are a pair of 1965 T-Bird tail lights with chrome frames setting on top of a custom fiberglass panel. (John Chun told me using the chrome ’65 T-Bird taillights was his idea. Said he could use any taillights that were off the Ford shelf.)
You can see the shoulder harness in the some of these picture as well as the padded roll bar. Roll bars were not an option on the stock Mustangs. Roll bars were standard on all Shelby Mustangs with an aircraft shoulder harness fastened to top of the roll bar.
All the GT Mustangs came with chrome around the wheel wells. I have those for my Shelby but did not install them. I liked the car without those chrome pieces.
My Shelby has a couple of exterior parts on it that were NOT available in 1968. I have a front lower air dam on my car. I also have a set of aluminum, rear window slates. Both of these were options in 1969, not offered stock in 1968.
My Shelby also has a Monte Carlo bar across the front of the engine connecting The tops of the shock towers on both sides of the engine compartment. Named Monte Carlo after they were used in Falcons racing in Europe at Monte Carlo. Shelby is credited with coming up with these support braces to stop the shock tower flex and maintain proper wheel alignment during hard cornering. My Monte Carlo bar is curved in the middle to accommodate the large COBRA air cleaner.