The KR initials said it all. Back in 1968, Ford’s Shelby GT500 KR was the undisputed “King of the Road.” With its 7.0-liter big-block Cobra Jet V-8 cranking out close to 400 hp, it was the fastest, most potent version you could buy of the Mustang, one of the greatest muscle-car models of the era. Fast forward to 2023 and there’s a new Shelby GT500 “King of the Road” grabbing the attention of enthusiasts. This one, the latest creation from Florida-based Revology Cars, also comes with a big V-8, but with 710 hp and a touch more modernity.
And when we say “new,” we mean exactly that. This is not some concours-quality restoration based on an original 55-year-old rust-bucket Mustang. Revology’s interpretation of the Shelby GT500 KR is fresh from the ground up, featuring an all-new steel body and modern Ford running gear.
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“The trouble with restored ’60s cars is that they might look cool, but they still drive like a ’60s car, with ’60s reliability. We build cars that are fun to drive, and are designed to be driven,” says Tom Scarpello, Revology’s founder and CEO. Back in 2014, Scarpello established the company to realize his dream of building brand-new versions of Ford’s classic Mustang, rather than simply producing “restomods” using donor cars. Up until then, he’d enjoyed a career with automakers like Nissan, Infiniti, Jaguar, and finally Ford, where he spearheaded operations for the Blue Oval’s high-profile SVT performance division.
Scarpello brought his combined manufacturing and marketing experience to low-volume, specialist production. Today, his outfit operates out of a 51,000-square-foot facility on the outskirts of Orlando where, on an iPad-controlled assembly line, a workforce of 94 employees hand-build up to six cars per month. So far, he’s delivered over 170 examples.
Revology strictly limits itself to reimagining Mustangs from 1966 to 1968, in convertible, 2+2 fastback, and Shelby GT350/GT500 forms, each riding on the same platform. Prices range from just under $250,000 for a ’68 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback, to $320,000-plus for this latest GT500 KR. And with an options list that would make Porsche proud—think $11,195 for a full Nappa leather interior, $8,145 for Shelby 10-spoke alloys, and $4,895 for a Focal K2 stereo—few vehicles go out the door for less than $350,000.
Scarpello explains that the original GT500 KR was a landmark car on account of it being built for just the 1968 model year. It was also the first fitted with the Ford 428 Cobra Jet V-8, and the last of the first-generation Mustangs built by Shelby American before Ford cut its ties with the company the following year. In total, 1,452 examples of the original GT500 KR were assembled.
Revology’s version is a near photocopy of the original as far as appearance goes. It features the same angled grille, the same lightweight fiberglass hood with those air-gulping nostrils, the same unique rear lights. The only minor visual difference is the 17-inch alloys instead of the 15-inch ones found on the original—oh, and LED lights.
Under the hood is where everything changes. Squeezed tightly into the engine bay is a supercharged, Rousch-tuned Ford 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 packing 710 hp and 610 ft lbs of torque. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic, with the option of a six-speed Tremec stick.
Slide into the retro interior, with its acres of hand-stitched ivory Nappa leather, real walnut on the dash, and shiny chrome accents, and it’s hard not to get lost in the details. Those neat hand-crank window winders? They’re actually electric; you push down to lower, pull up to raise. And closing the door produces the kind of solid, precision “thunk” you hear on a Mercedes G-Wagen. Fire up the engine and listen to the “whoomph” as it ignites, then immediately settles into a throaty burble. Hello, 1968.
One criticism is that the gear selector is straight out of the Mustang parts bin, with no attempt to age-relate it, though that classic, thin-rim wood steering wheel is just lovely to hold. But don’t go looking for an airbag; like an original ’68, there isn’t one.
Standing on the throttle at the first hint of an open road results in this KR surging forward with a soul-stirring soundtrack of induction roar, supercharger whine, and V-8 bellow. It’s loud, but not excessively so, and at 75 mph-plus cruising speeds, it’s positively hushed.
Off the line, this Mustang can really charge. Car and Driver recently clicked the stopwatches on a Revology GT500 with the same engine as the KR and recorded a zero-to-60 mph time of just 3.7 seconds. That’s almost half a second quicker than the latest 2024 Mustang Dark Horse.
Through the Orlando back roads, this interpretation of the GT500 KR feels agile and responsive, courtesy of modern, nicely weighted hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering. While the ride is sports-car firm, lumps and bumps are soaked up with ease. And in stop-start traffic, the car never gets temperamental as an original would, its a/c providing an icy blast that would make any summer-weary Floridian smile.
This team has done an impressive job creating a modern-day ’68 Shelby that has all the style and visual drama of an original GT500 KR, but with the latest mechanicals to make it a daily driver. Says Scarpello, “We don’t build them like they used to.”
Click here for more photos of Revology’s reimagined Shelby GT500 KR.