Q: Hi Greg! I read your interesting article regarding the 'Mexican Shelby Mustangs' and decided to share my story with you. I own a 1963 1/2 Mercury Marauder with a 427 engine and a four speed transmission. I was in the Army in 1963 when the '63 1/2 was introduced, but I really wanted a 1963 ½ Galaxie 500 instead of a Mercury. On a salary of $106 a month and with a wife and many bills on the table each month, owning one was out of the question.
Several years later there was a used car dealer in my home town named Dennis whom I had known since childhood. I asked him if he could find a '63 1/2 Galaxie for me and he tried very hard with no success. However, he did have a car that he wanted me to have and he tried many times to get me to buy it.
However, I declined on a number of occasions to buy the car he wanted to sell me. Then one day he called and told me that he knew about a '63 ½ Mercury Marauder that was for sale and that he still thought I should buy this "other car" from him instead. Well, I went ahead and bought the Mercury I own to this day. I've spent a lot of money on a new high-performance 427 engine and 4-speed transmission, but it is fun to drive and I get many compliments and comments on it.
But here's the story. The car that my friend Denny tried so hard to get me to buy and I wouldn't?
It was a 1968 Mustang Shelby GT500 KR 428 Cobra Jet.
Oh well, I've still got the Mercury (photo attached). Yours truly, John M., Chewelah, Washington.
A: John, what a story. Just so my readers know a 1968 Mustang Shelby GT500 KR is worth many dollars today. The "KR" stands for "King of the Road" and the model was introduced in mid-year of 1968. This GT500 KR features a hotter 428 Cobra Jet engine although it was still listed "way low" at just 335 horsepower. In previous GT500 Shelby Mustangs, engines were either a 427 (similar to your Mercury Marauder 427) or a Police Interceptor 428. When the hotter Cobra Jet 428 appeared later in 1968, it was offered in Mustangs and Shelby Mustangs, the later featuring aluminum finned Cobra valve covers. The list price back then was $4,473 for the GT500KR.
Today at the major auctions, these cars are bringing big bucks. The most recent Mecum Auction in Harrisburg, Pa. found a 1968 Shelby GT500KR convertible going for $190,000. In your state, a 1968 GT500KR coupe fetched $165,000 at the Mecum Seattle auction.
The one that got away from me was a 1968 Corvette 427-435 horse Tri-Power with aluminum heads that I could have owned in 1974 for $5,000 and being sold by a noted Corvette dealer in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Because of the oil crisis and gas rationing, muscle cars were selling on the cheap but for one reason or another (read that as I didn't have the money), I couldn't pull the trigger. Today, a similar 1968 Corvette 427-435 hardtop/convertible is an easy $100,000-plus car as one identical to the one I could have purchased (dark blue) sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction for $101,600 back in 2006! Most "non pristine" but good condition 1968 Corvette 427-435s usually go for $65,000 and up by private sellers on eBay auctions.
In ending, I'm sure each and every auto enthusiast has a story like this, and although you have made good with your 1963 ½ Mercury Marauder 427 (also worth lots of $$$), perhaps there are a few readers who did cash in on a purchase they made at a critical time and would like to share their stories with us in 2016.
Thanks John M., and Happy New Year to you.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now, BestRide.com and other Gatehouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions on old cars, auto nostalgia and old-time motorsports at 116 Main St., Towanda, PA 18848 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.