During the ’50s and ’60s, Motor Trend staged several comparison tests between the latest Corvette and a “sporty” contender from Ford. The early rival was the Thunderbird; later, the grudge match was waged between the Vette and the latest hopped-up Mustang from Shelby American.
The first of the Vette vs. Shelby battles was printed in Motor Trend’s April ’67 issue, when writer Steve Kelly ran a 1967 Corvette 427 convertible against the G.T. 500, a brand-new entry in Shelby’s Mustang lineup powered by Ford’s 428-inch Police Interceptor V-8.
“Chevy has cause for some worry from the G.T. 500,” he wrote. “There’s more room inside, and it’s easier to drive in traffic. There’s a civilized luggage compartment that’s accessible from the outside, and there’s at least the same measure of racy styling. The G.T. 500 runs quieter, and in general is a more practical car for everyday use.”
The Vette Kelly got from Chevy’s press fleet was powered by the L71 big-block, a new-for-’67 option with triple carburetors that was rated at 435 hp—far eclipsing the 355 horses from the 428. That difference was evident at the dragstrip, where the Corvette ran the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 104 mph, compared with the Ford’s 14.52 e.t. at 101.35. The Vette was also quicker to 60 mph by half a second—5.5 seconds compared to 6.2—and hit a 143-mph top speed, versus the Shelby’s 120.
Away from the ’strip, Kelly said he was “highly impressed by the solid-as-a-rock cornering of the G.T. 500, and its agility in quick turns.” The Vette, on the other hand, he found to be “distinctly nose-heavy,” a trait “abruptly apparent when one attempts to leave the line under hard throttle, or when you bring it around a sharp bend while applying power. The rear end becomes frighteningly ‘light.’” Kelly also warned prospective buyers that, while the Vette “is a lot of fun…discretion must be used in driving around town. It’s awful easy to bound past speed limits unknowingly.”
The Vette’s throttle-happy nature earned it the title of “King of Speed” in Kelly’s story, subjugating the Shelby to the status of “contender to the throne.” While the track numbers were clearly in the Corvette’s favor, Kelly’s head was definitely turned by the G.T. 500, which he said was “more at home on the street” than the Vette, which “suffers somewhat as a street machine.”
Still, which would you rather have in your garage?