Auto World’s 1969 Shelby GT-350 pilot car

Auto World’s pretty Shelby celebrates the BOSS 302 …

Auto World continues to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the BOSS engine that was launched in 1969, this time with a 1/18 scale die-cast model of the muscular 1969 Shelby GT-350.

This one comes in a medium metallic blue (Acapulco blue) with black side and hood racing stripes, and like all of Auto World’s American Muscle and similar releases, the doors and hood open while the front wheels also are steerable. Of course, there’s a replica Boss 302 under the hood in this one.

Auto World also sticks with die-cast metal, as opposed to many brands that now use composite materials for their models.

The History

This model is a reproduction of the 1969 G Code Boss 302 Shelby GT-350, the pilot prototype for the 1970 model. Auto World tells us this model mimics the actual car that carried VIN 9F02G482244.

Auto World says this car was ordered just three days after the Boss 302s went into production on April 19, 1969. The production order number for the car was 9999, which only a few top Ford honchos had access to. Ford says that Edsel Ford II and Bunkie Knudsen, then Ford’s president, would have been two executives with access to that special number.

One theory is that the car was ordered as a present for Carroll Shelby as he was running the race team’s Boss 302 Shelby cars. And no, Shelby did not have direct access to ordering such a car.

Ironically, the Boss program was canceled less than two weeks after this car was built, just after Shelby resigned from Ford.

For the record, Shelby had been making the GT-350 and GT-500 for several years, but for 1969 and 1970 Ford took over production. Inevitably there was a disagreement between Shelby and Ford that led to his departure.

The 1969 models got a facelift including a new nose and overall the car grew four to 10 inches longer, depending on model. Under the hood for most was a 351 V8. The special Boss 302, which started as a 4.9-liter small block V8 was reported at the time to boast 290 horsepower, but rumors have persisted that it was closer to 400 horses. It featured more nickel in the engine and unique cylinder heads.

After Shelby’s exit no new models were made for 1970. But this car with its twin racing stripes on the hood was the pilot for what would have been 1970 models, yet 789 leftover 1969 models were re-tagged with new 1970 VINs. A black chin spoiler also was added to the 1970 models. Confusing? Sure, but the auto industry was a lot more flexible in those days and it seems anything that involved Shelby was never easily handled.

Boss 302 engines were also used in the Mercury Cougar Eliminator in 1969 and 1970, in very limited quantities.

The Model

I like Auto World’s cars because they are from my favorite era and because they look more like the real thing than some of the near-perfect artistic renderings some die-cast manufacturers turn out these days.

No, the door seams and hood lineup on 1960s cars were sketchy at best. So, Auto World cars’ fit and finish is still ahead of what you’d see on some 1/1 versions of the exact same cars. This model’s doors still have noticeable seams around them and the hood too. But that’s OK because it better reflects reality, as do the chrome door handles, wiper arms, and nose and tail trim.

These were the years when chrome use was starting to fade, and plastic or composites were working their way into new cars. Bumpers were less chrome and more rubber. Yet here there’s still chrome on the rear bumper and around the boxed horizontal taillights. An antenna on the rear bumper remains chromed too and the racy 5-spoke wheels are eye-popping bright chrome.

Windows are painted in a duller silver trim while head and taillights look convincingly real and much of the grille is blacked out. Shelby Cobra logos are on the C-pillars and there’s a Boss 302 logo on the front fenders too.

Exterior rearview mirrors are body colored with mirrored faces and the tiny rear side windows behind where a B-pillar might go in other models are in place with a slight chrome-trimmed leading edge.

Naturally when you’re touting the anniversary of a specific engine you’d better have a sharp one under the hood. Auto World delivers a big blue-block V8 with massive chrome air filter housing atop it and hoses and black headers too, along with a detailed battery. There’s a “Caution, Fan” decal on the fan housing too. Plus, Auto World includes a large strut tower brace curving behind the engine from atop the front strut towers too, which aided chassis strength and stability in the 1/1 Mustang.

Inside, the cockpit features ribbed black leather-look bucket seats, a fake wood-faced instrument panel, console and T-handle shifter, plus a and wood-look 3-spoke steering wheel.

Auto World also fully details the car’s underside so you can see suspension, drivetrain and exhaust systems. Cool! The car’s tires are labeled Goodyear Polyglas GT, and are treaded.

More good news. If you can’t afford another acrylic display case at the moment, Auto World provides a colorful and sturdy display box with a big window so you could keep this one in its original container and still enjoy it.

Bottom line: If you like Mustangs and Shelby’s this is a nice combo with a bit of history thrown in to make for a fun display car with a big engine. Pose this one with the hood up!

Vital Stats: 1969 Shelby GT-350 pilot car

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AMM1188/06
MSRP: $109.99




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