1967 FORD Mustang Shelby GT 350- Fidel Kunz Print
Written by Double Dragon
Friday, 03 September 2010 20:40

1967 FORD Mustang Shelby GT 350- Fidel Kunz


Writing copyright D. S. Brown, photographs copyright and courtesy Fidel Kunz.

A ride in a car seems like a trivial thing but it can change the course of a person's life.

I have ridden in a lot of Mustangs over the years but my first high powered Mustang ride didn't happen until I rode in a Mach 1 in the 1970s. This was after the muscle car wave had started to recede and the heavy iron was starting to fade off the streets. A friend and I had just bought comic books in the local store when we watched a yellow 1970 Mach 1 pull into the lot. The car was a pristine, stock appearing car with the exception of Cragar SS mags and traction bars. The car's rumble announced the presence of glass packs and headers. The owner stepped out and nodded at my friend and me as he went into the store. We were stretched on tippy toes peering into the car when he came back out.

"I guess you guys need a ride, don't you?"

We were both in that car in seconds flat. This was back in the days when kids ran wild all day long and no one worried about strangers. The Mach 1 back window was raked at an extreme angle. It seemed horizontal as we both vied to look upwards through it. You couldn't look up at the sky because it was shuttered with black slats to minimize heat. The back seat was basically just padding overtop of the back structure of the car. An adult wouldn't last long in that 'seat'. The front high back buckets went almost to the headliner turning the back into a cave. My friend and I quickly bored of the back seat, and I beat him to the shotgun seat up front. The console rose up into the dash which curved in around each occupant. 

My interest in details of the interior vanished in a haze of smoke as the rear tires laid a jet black thick layer of tire rubber on the cement when the Mach 1 shifted to second banging us around the interior. No one wore seatbelts back then. The revs came up so fast it felt as if our pilot was chasing this runaway horse with barely in time redline shifts. The car hit a groove in high and we cruised a bit at 80. The windows were down and the wind blast forced everyone to yell to each other. I heard my friend from the back yell,


The Mach 1 was in top gear but it still slammed everyone back in the seats as we took off round the speedometer. When we ran out of country road, we turned round and cruised back into town. By the time we reached the corner store we had absorbed every word about the lineage of Mustangs from our new friend. He had told us that his Mach 1 basically ousted the GT500KR which sold in dwindling numbers by 1970. He explained that the last of the Ford Cobra KRs were continuations of a specialty Shelby version of the Mustang. He told us the meaning of the Cobra Jet name given to his 428 and traced the Shelby's back to the small block GT-350s. We never saw one around even though we were now on the lookout.

A funny coincidence occurred years later. The Mach 1 owner became my neighbor. By then I was a teenager but he still had the Mach 1. He and his very beautiful wife also owned a vintage Triumph motorcycle. All the kids were in awe of him mainly because of the wife, but also due to car exploits and general heroics. His legend was cemented the night local car part thieves tried to make off with his Cragars. They had the Mach 1 up on cinder blocks at 4 am when the car dropped loudly. My neighbor was out of the house in his underwear like a bolt of lightning. He ran down the thieves despite their head start and beat them to mush. Chronic car part thievery in the area raged on for years, but the Mach 1 remained untouched.  

That ride made me a big fan of Ford 428 engines, but probably didn't change the course of my life aside from some vivid memories. A ride in a Mustang a few years before the ride my friend and I took did influence the entire outcome of someone's life.

In the late 1960s a kid in Creston, BC finagled a ride in Fidel Kunz's 1967 Shelby. Fidel really worked the gears and that magic worked to inspire the kid as we shall see in the story of Fidel's short ownership of the Shelby. Fidel has some memories of fun times with the car and the satisfaction of knowing that he and his car ignited a fire in one person's life.

67 gt350 fidel kunz by car

Fidel Kunz was a painter back in 1967. Fidel was living in Creston, BC, Canada which is a few miles north of the border town Porthill, Idaho. Creston is in the Creston Valley, primarily an agricultural economy back then. Fidel's local Ford dealer didn't have any Shelbys in stock and wouldn't take Fidel's requests for one seriously. Fidel was fed up. One day he walked into the showroom with the required amount of money to buy a Shelby. The dealer saw all that cash in Fidel's hand and got the process going as fast as he could.

67 gt350 fidel kunz at wheel

Fidel immediately set about racing his new car as soon as he drove off the lot. Engine work and other modifications made the car competitive. The GT-350 carried Fidel to his various job sites during the week. It was on the job that the car caught the attention of a young kid. The kid wanted a ride, and Fidel obliged complete with some adrenalin inducing maneuvers equal to that of my corner store Mach 1 ride. The young kid was inspired and became a racer in his teens. He later switched to engine building. One of his engines won the Indy 500 years later.

Fidel made many trips through the BC interior in the GT-350. The car was great fun on the winding and hilly roads through the mountains. On his way back from Alberta one time he got into a race with a Porsche. Just when things were getting interesting, he saw the red RCMP cars in his rear view mirror. He got pulled over for that one. But that was an exceptional day. Back then the roads were pretty empty and he got to enjoy the GT-350 quite a bit.

67 gt350 fidel kunz takeoff

Before he knew it, the whole experience came to an abrupt end in the early 1970s when the car was stolen. Unlike my neighbor, Fidel never had the satisfaction of catching the thieves. The GT-350 had extensive engine work done and was known in the area. The thieves couldn't sell the car without attracting attention, so they pulled the engine to sell it out of town. The body of the car was abandoned in bushes, destroyed. Sadly, the car had to be written off. Thus, the GT-350 was a one owner collector car in most senses of the word. It was regarded as a special car at the time and given 20 years it would have made collector status. I wish it had made it.

67 gt350 fidel kunz the end

The engine, the heart of the Shelby carried onwards while the spirit of the car reached forwards from that first ride given to a kid to the Indy 500.   



Last Updated ( Thursday, 04 July 2013 22:22 )