In the early 1990s, enthusiasts seeking a muscle car infused with the Shelby Touch often turned to the front-wheel-drive Dodge Daytona. Those yearning for a Shelby-influenced Ford faced disappointment unless they were privileged members of the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC). For these select few, the opportunity to acquire a Mk 1 SAAC Mustang GT—a vehicle conceived as the Fox-body counterpart to the original Shelby GT350- arose.
While comparing it to the revered GT350 may be a bit enthusiastic, especially for the meticulous SAAC members who hold a wealth of Shelby knowledge, this prototype Mustang is undeniably exceptional. Now available for purchase on Bring a Trailer, part of the Hearst Autos family like Car and Driver, this rare gem has a unique history.
As a prototype, this Mustang proudly bears the “Shelby” name in various places, although production models were labeled as SAAC to sidestep potential legal issues with Chrysler. Conceived by club executives Richard Kopec and Ken Eber, with assistance from club member David Wagner, who conveniently held a managerial position at Ford’s Power Products Operation Group, this project aimed to achieve what Ford couldn’t at the time.
Exclusively offered to SAAC members, these Mustangs received Carroll Shelby’s official approval. Notable modifications included a robust package featuring an aluminum GT40 intake, GT40 cylinder heads with a slight compression boost, underdrive pulleys, ceramic-coated headers, and a 2.5-inch exhaust—resulting in an impressive 295 horsepower on the dyno, a substantial improvement over the stock 5.0L engine.
Available only with a manual transmission, the T5 gearbox underwent a clutch upgrade, and the handling was enhanced with Eibach lowering springs, Koni shocks, and disc brakes on all wheels. The addition of a roll bar contributed to chassis stiffness. While these modifications may not have been groundbreaking for those accustomed to modifying Fox-body Mustangs, the carefully executed package, coupled with the rarity and Shelby’s endorsement, rendered these cars highly collectible.
Despite their eye-watering price tag of $39,995 before options, equivalent to over $90,000 in today’s currency, only 62 SAAC Mustangs were built. The prototype, serving as the press and promotional vehicle, has accumulated 55,000 miles, indicating that it has not been relegated to the status of a museum piece. This enthusiast-built car sustained the Shelby-Ford connection until it was rekindled with the Ford GT and the modern GT350.
As one of the rarest models from the Fox-body Mustang era, the auction for this particular SAAC Mustang GT prototype will undoubtedly attract attention, with the bidding set to conclude on Sunday, December 3. No Shelby Club membership is required to participate in this unique opportunity.