Why was the
(0139) not "destroyed" per Ford's policy?
There are two parts to
this answer. The first deals with the timeline, and the
second deals with the terminology and probability.
Until early 2009, it
was theorized that the theft of the car somehow
disrupted that process. This theory is present in the
authentication letter from Carroll
Shelby and was echoed in the
various stories that
have been published about Car 0139. In mid-2009 the
Theft Repair Invoice
was uncovered and we were able to fill in some missing
pieces of the vehicle's
We now know the
reported 'theft' took
place in April 1967 -- well before the car was
photographed for print ads and well before the
convertible made its appearance at
Long Lead Technical Conference held at Riverside Raceway on July 6, 1967.
It would be absolutely foolish to think that a styling
prototype would be destroyed before it was ever photographed
or seen by members of the press.
addition, the car wasn't really stolen - it was 'borrowed without
permission' and then 'returned' all within a week.
One week, let alone a couple months isn't a long enough period of time to
disrupt the destruction process.
Regardless, I am not sure
who first introduced the term 'destruction' or
introduced the theory that the convertible would have been 'destroyed' (crushed) per Ford's
standard policy for prototype vehicles.
Based on the handwritten
Ionia move planning notes, the
only term used by Shelby personnel when referencing what to do with
this and other engineering/PR cars was simply "disposal."
The term "destruction"
was never used on any original Shelby American documentation
uncovered to this day.
"Disposal" could mean
destruction, as would probably be the case for cars with
highly modified engines, suspensions or experimental
technology like Little Red's twin supercharger setup.
It makes sense to destroy a highly modified vehicle to guarantee
that it never would end up in private ownership and get used on a
public roadway (which would be a big liability to the
It is our
belief that when Shelby American employees used the term disposal, they most likely meant that
Shelby was disposing of the car by means of shipping it to Ford to do with it what they
felt was appropriate. Thus 'disposal' was a generic term
used by Shelby.
would also be safe to surmise that "disposal"
could also mean that the car could be sold on
Ford's Employee Resale/Auction Lot -- a practice which Ford
regularly did with unmodified special-tasked vehicles
(like the 12 1964 Mustangs used on the Skyway ride of
the World's Fair).
After all, car 0139 was merely a stock production-line 1967
Q-code Shelby GT 500 with updated '68
fiberglass, safety features (including reflectors, seat
belts, roll-bar), a console and woodgrain appliqué - why destroy it when you can safely sell
When asked why the car wasn't destroyed,
1988 explanation was that the
"penny-pinching controller" may have been the reason
that the car still existed.