Book Review: Shelby Mustang, the Total Performance Pony Car

by | Nov 22, 2019

Today’s Review by Joe Farace

After a press trip I took to San Diego was over the person driving me to the airport wanted to talk…about cars. He knew I started this site and asked, if I could have any car that I wanted what would it be? Without even thinking I answered “a Shelby Mustang.”

Shelby Mustang,The Total Performance Pony Car by Colin Comer is a wonderful and beautifully presented book about this automotive legend and will be appreciated by newcomers and aficionados alike. In fact I might as well say it now, this is the best car book I’ve read in a long long time.

The book is printed on heavy paper stock with photographic reproduction that is nothing short of superb. The author’s text combines the excitement of an enthusiast with the details of a historian. If you want to know what happened during the birth of the Shelby Mustang you’ll find it here along with amazing archival images plus beautiful contemporary photographs of the cars that made me originally fall in love with the Shelby Mustang oh-so-many years ago.

In it’s pages you’ll learn about special models that I never knew about like The Green Hornet or a GT500 EXP prototype notchback that was nicknamed “Little Red,” along with details about these cars and how they are being restored right now.

While the book is informative, entertaining and comprehensive, it’s not perfect and, like me, you may have mixed feelings about some of the case histories of Shelby Mustang owners that pop-up from time to time. I did, however, love the tale of Richard Morrison and his 1967 GT350 as well as the story of an unsung hero in the Shelby Mustang saga, Chuck Cantwell. Cantwell’s story is historical gold as is all the text by the author, Colin Comer, who makes this book sing and feel like he’s telling a story that happened last month, not fifty years ago.

The author’s prose is so illuminating that I could have done without the reprints of reviews and articles from car magazine of various Shelby Mustangs, although I am sure completists will gobble this stuff up. I guess having lived through and read some of this material back in the day it seems redundant; it may not be so for you. Not so for some of the contemporaneous Shelby promotional material that enhances the author’s fascinating telling of this legendary car’s history.

The bulk of the book covers the heyday of classic Shelby Mustangs from their birth in 1965 to the penultimate 1970 models, with an interesting trip south of the border for the Shelby de Mexico 1971 model. The last part of the book, called “The Second Coming,” looks at more modern Mustangs bearing the Shelby name. I am sure that some day this section will itself become its own book but for now, its here because there are still cars being built carrying Old Shel’s name, although built by Ford. And if you’ve been paying attention, you know this wasn’t anything new. Starting in 1968 All Shelby Mustangs were “built by Ford” but really rolled off the line at A.O. Smith’s facility  in Livonia, Michigan.

In my life I have owned two Mustangs: The first a 1966 blue convertible and the second a (don’t hate me) 1978 Mustang II T-top fastback. I have never owned a Shelby Mustang and, I guess, at this stage of my life I probably never will but I can own this book and while not quite the same thing, it’s a start. Shelby Mustang by Colin Comer is also the perfect Christmas or Hanukkah gift for the Ford lover in your family or maybe yourself.

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 10760365970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760365977
  • Price: $26.76 (Amazon Prime, as I write this.)