1967 (1968) Group 2 Trans-Am Mustang  prototype
©   Wolfgang Kohrn - August 24th 2009, last updated April 25th, 2013









The car as it looked later until today in Jim Philion's ownership.

A 1967 or 1968 Trans Am season Kar Kraft Notchback prototype?  
The acceptance of this car is still not solved as of April 25th, 2013 - parties are splitted about this case through 2011/2012 and into 2013 - We reported earlier it was  accepted as of December 2012 by the Historic TransAm group - but we got  contradictionary statements from the HT group.

So let's have a look into the case and what is the current status of research:

The researching group around Matt LaFond has found that the Kar Kraft prototype was built on December 28th, 1966. The VIN is
#7F01C130359, which of course lifts some eyebrows, but here is the story as presented by the owner J. Philion and Matt LaFond:

1) Assembled at the Dearborn, Michigan, Ford plant the week of December 28th,1966, the same week Shelby American took delivery on the first group of Notchback Mustangs to be converted to Group II Trans Am racing vehicles.

2.) Original destination for subject vehicle to be sent to a Tennessee Ford dealer as a dealer demonstrator.

Originally built as a basic six-cylinder model in the color of Springtime Yellow.

3.) Ford had opened a facility near Detroit in 1966 known as Kar Kraft, which was to serve as engineering and design for Ford specialty and racing vehicles. It was to be the East coast Shelby operations, which moved from California to Michigan in 1968.

4.) Jacque Passino, head of Fords racing division wanted a Mustang sent to Kar Kraft to serve as an "engineering" prototype to assist in changes during the 1967 race season and to serve for all the changes to be made for the 1968 team Mustangs, Mr. Passino ordered the subject vehicle to be re-directed to Kar Kraft rather than the Tennessee Ford dealer.

5.) The subject vehicle was built into racing configuration at Kar Kraft, the six cylinder letter in the Vin was changed to reflect a V-8 for insurance reasons. That practice was not uncommon as two of the 1967 team cars had the vin's reIstamped at Kar Kraft to make them into useable 1968 team cars

6.) The subject vehicle was painted a current available blue color for 1967.

7.) During the 1967 race season Kar Kraft loaned the vehicle to race Driver, Bob Johnson to race as an independent at Green Valley Texas wearing the #38.

Photo: Jerry Melton
Matt La Fond: "
Note the unique Kar Kraft rims on this car driven by Bob Johnson at Green Valley 1967. If you notice the odd wheels these were a one off fabricated experimental set made at Kar Kraft dealing with the upcoming changes for 68 such as floater rear, larger tires, and four wheel disc brakes." Matt LaFond claims to  have the KK blueprint for the wheels marked experimental.
"There was only one set of these wheels made and they were put on the engineering car. The post race Green Valley report states to" bring the engineering car to all future races in the event of practice accidents" such as occured to Titus. The color on #38 is a 67 Ford blue on the color charts between white and Springtime Yellow. Jim and Craig color sanded an extra trunk deck that came with the car, when Jim bought it and found the blue over Springtime Yellow. The Kar Kraft rims are still visible in pictures from 1971." says Matt.

8.) The 1967 Green Valley race report stated that the "engineering car" should be brought to all remaining races to be used as a back up in the event of practice accidents such as occurred a Green Valley with the Titus # 17 car.

Below is a link to Bob Johnson's race history, here is how it is explained by Matt LaFond:
 - March 31, 1967 at Sebring he raced and owned a Falcon #33.
- April 16,  1967 at Green Valley he raced a Mustang (prototype), #38, with no owner listed.
- March 30, 1967 and Jul 4, 1967, Lime Rock and Daytona, he raced a Mustang he had bought and built, #33, he is listed as owner.
  After that he raced a Camaro for Penske. He never did well with the Mustangs, the KK/SA Green Valley car, or his own after that, so he parked his car and went with the Penske team. Here is the link, you will notice different car number and no owner listed at Green Valley:

9.) In late 1967 the car was sold by Ford to Kar Kraft employee, Tom Tlusty.

10.) In 1968 Tom Tlusty sold the car to a military friend in Ohio, Bob Griffith.

Editors note: Jon Mello (camaros.org) found this sales ad (source Jerry Melton) for us that says than an ex-Bob Johnson Mustang was sold by Steve Ross at the end of the 69 season. That would coincide with his (Steve Ross) purchase of the ex-Hinchcliff car, which he raced in the 70 season.

Matt LaFond thinks this is the car Bob Johnson built for himself.

11.) In 1970 the car was sold to Craig Moskowitz who painted it silver, over the existing blue.

"Here we have the prototype with the photos dated March 71, this is just before Craig sold the car to Dasilva. If you notice the trunk deck he had changed it due to the fact he found it unimportant to have the deck held down by three hood pins and wanted it hinged instead. This is why the original deck still exists with the Marti Report Springtime Yellow with Brittiney blue over it. When Moskowitz got the car from Griffith, it was Brittany blue with the door numbers sanded off. I had a long conversation with him.
  He replaced the deck and hinged it since his intension for the car was hill climbs and autocrossess. He also told me the VIN was stamped as a V-8 model when he bought it, long before fakes, frauds or clones. If you also notice in the photo the correct Shelby TA engine and acc, as well as the correct dash and instruments along with the correct SA pedal set.

 Also notice the odd KK wheels as on #38. He stated that Griffith informed him the fenders were already flared when he bought the car from Tlusty and were in primer, tlusty simply added the upcoming 68 flares when he bought the car. Moscovitz sold the car with the original trunk deck that still had the Mustang lettering on it. He painted it silver over the blue and carried the number 74. His driver in the hill climbs died of a heart attack shortly after, so he sold the car to DaSilva." Matt LaFond 

12.) In 1971 the car was sold to Peter DeSilva.

Peter DeSilva sold the car in 1979 to Peter Stish via this ad. 
Matt LaFond: "The "very little use" was the one race when Bob Johnson borrowed the car from KK and ran #38 at Green Valley. After that he build his own car and raced the other one as #33.

In 1979 Shelby American engineer Chuck Cantwell did a physical inspection of the Stish car and verified that it was an authentic Group II Mustang.

13.) Peter Stish then purchased the car in 1979 and started the restoration back to the "Team Terlingua", Shelby color scheme.

14.) In 1982, the American Ambassador to Mexico, Ted Gildred purchased the car and fmished the restoration.

15.) In 1983, Ford invited the car to attend the Monterey Histories. It was in attendance as photos reflect the car
with Mr. Gildred, Carroll Shelby, and race team manager, Lew Spencer.

The car as presented in June 1983 at the Carlsbad Raceway in Southern California.
It was a San Diego Region SCCA Solo event, or time trial. 
Photo courtesy Frank Sheffield /Flickerphoto.com

Monterey 1983, Ted Gildred (Ambassador of the U.S. in Mexico)

This car had been for a long time "officially recognized" as a SA notchback prototype.  The last SAAC registry (1997) still listed this car as prototype car and notchback # 1 and the car presented here on the left with door #68 was actually shown at the Monterey Historics 1983. It was also pictured in various SAAC publications.

Another picture from Monterey 83 thanks to Jim Lange and his father:

17.) In the Shelby American publication #46 after Monterey, Rick Kopec of the Shelby Registry did an interview with team manager, Lew Spencer. The car and vin were mentioned in that article.

18.) In September 1995, the current owner, Jim Philion, purchased the car. Mr. Philion restored the car to a black and white livery, wearing the #68 

19.) This vehicle had been listed in the Shelby Registry for over 20 years, up until 2008 when the Marti Report caused confusion so  it was pulled


Photo courtesy Ken Garcia

The car became a mystery first in the period shortly before an Russo and Steele auction sale in 2008 and the story is "hot" through to 2013. 

According to then given hints from insiders there were 3 reasons mainly for an alert given to the auctioneers:
A) It never raced for the Shelby team in 1967
B) it should carry a 6-cyl engine code acc. to the Marti report
C) it's VIN was altered to a V8 digit some time in its history
D) The Marti report also indicated that it might have been used as a dealer promo car instead, the address was a Tennesse dealership.

As mentioned earlier it was pulled prior to the event due to an information given by SAAC.
Fact is that Marti reports indicate, how Ford serialized those cars. What was done on the assembly line or afterwards is not documented in detail.


Additional notes about the research: 

We received during 2011/2012/2013 some insight into a documentation that will reclaim the cars authenticity. Matt LaFond was doing research for James Philion and came up with some more documentation from the Kar Kraft archives, which he obtained in a 3 years period.

The report was done in a major research about unknown 67/68 TA season details and brought up history information about this
prototype for the 68 T/A season from the original owner including history logbook on this car and statements of Mitch Marchi (retired Ford designer and working at Kar Kraft from 66-68). 
We show you the presented details of the history of this car above to judge yourself :

According to that report, proof will be shown that state:

B) The car was redirected during production by Jaques Passino to be send to Kar Kraft (no paperwork yet received)

Remark: Kar Kraft had the order from Ford to develop changes for the 68 Trans-Am season. The most obvious visible parts are the Kar Kraft flared fenders, that were made there plus many suspension and other items.  

C)  Tom Tlusty statements from Kar Kraft (who was also responsible for purchasing, accounting and inventory of Kar Kraft) in August 1967 with the intended purpose of turning it into a hobby racer

D) Mitch Marchi, then Kar Kraft design engineer, remembers the car sitting all season 1967 in front of his office and states this in a confirmation letter. He also confirms some more details about the car (see excert below)

E) The VIN was altered due to insurance reasons at Kar Kraft when it got a V8 HP there. Minimum two other 68 T/A cars got altered VINs there acc. to the sources

F) Tom Tlusty sold the car in 1968 after redirecting his interest to 68 SA notchback #2, which was more than ready to race.

Disclaimer: We're not taking a role in that case, just reporting on the issue and will keep you updated to make your own judgement. In the end the related parties will probably need to review presented facts.


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