The term "survivor" refers to a strict definition. The intent is to define some very uniquely preserved cars.

SURVIVOR [ ser-vahy-ver ]; 1. a person or thing that has survived. In the case of a vintage car, a survivor normally retains more than 75% of its original paint as applied by the factory. The interior is intact and not modified. Normal wear and tear items may have been replaced due to normal maintenance. These may include belts, hoses, shocks and tires.

That is a very high bar to reach. The very best survivor cars may have all the original parts as installed by the factory and no repaints.

Keep in mind when you are looking at survivor cars not every piece may not be correct. You might also be looking at a production variation. Don't assume because one well preserved car is a certain way, that all cars were built that way.

Also make sure you are aware of the build date and specific plant the car was built at.

Our first survivor is #02103. It is a Highland Green GT 350 fastback. Let's take a look at some of the details.

That is original paint!

The engine bay is remarkably untouched. I do see the front shock absorbers have been replaced. Original shocks would be blue in color. The car also has a 1967 smog system installed. I spoke to the owner and it was most likely installed when the car went to California very early in its history. Don't be discouraged by that. There is a lot here to see.

This blue paint ID mark indicated which shock should be installed. The shock mount is painted black and the attaching nuts are silver plated.

On the right shock tower, you can see how the tilt vacuum lines were attached. The chalk "R" indicates the car should be painted Highland Green. The hardware that holds the shock cover plate was installed with the nuts on the inside of the engine bay.

I like this picture because it shows neatness was not a priority. This is the left hood hinge. You can see the deadner and sealer sprayed in the brake booster area. The unattached wiring plug was actually not utilized on Shelbys. It was for Mustangs with hood mounted turn signals.

This picture shows the water pump has faded to a different shade of blue. Most likely its been replaced. You can see the correct power steering mounting hardware. The pump is painted teal metallic. The small wire clip on the valve cover is blue, because it came off the blue painted cover installed by Ford. Shelby replaced the cover with a COBRA version, but retained the blue painted clip. The distributor has a dual vacuum advance. It was common to all 1968 4 speeds, except on GT500s.

Behind the right headlight, in the wheel well, we can see the different combinations of primer and blackout paint. An original build sheet was still attached to the core support. The rusted areas near the top indicate little or no paint was applied.

The inside of the lower exterior scoop was blacked out, even on this dark green car. You can clearly see the tape lines.

The back of the fiberglas head light buckets had very little overspray. When you see the smooth white or pinkish finish, its a good indication the headlight bucket is original.

The speckled burtex trunk mat is the most commonly used mat in 1968. These are very hard to find.

I doubt if anyone has ever been in the back seat. It looks like just like it did when the car was new.

Under the dash, you can see the original fire wall mat. It is not reproduced accurately. The tilt steering wheel mechanism is intact. You may also notice the carpet has three cut out shapes along the top edge. The steering column, the emergency brake and the accelerator pedal all have cut-outs behind them.

The tire has been replaced, but the wheel is original. Original wheels have four slots. They also have four nubs in the center. The center hole is tight on the rear axle.

The best part of any investigation is finding the supporting documents. Here is the original owners manual, complete with the original owner's name and selling dealer!

A beautiful, red GT500 convertible with Air Conditioning. This car is # 2444. I took there pictures when the car was in Virginia, several years ago.

These cars always draw a crowd and they should. They are the best preserved examples in the hobby.

This is an excellently preserved engine compartment. While this car has had some minor touchups, it is still one of the best in the country.

The PCV tube and hose are often restored incorrectly. The tube, the hose, the clamps and some of the fittings are painted with the engine. You can see the "accessory" fitting is left unpainted. The GT500 uses a special PCV tube. It is not the same as the GT500 KR.

The export brace bolts are supposed to look like they came from a hardware store. There is no washer under the head.

The intake manifold on a GT500 is supposed to be painted blue. I have noticed the tops of this rear, pedestal are not painted.

The battery on air conditioning should have a plastic shroud. If you look closely, you can see the positive battery terminal has a "+" sign on it.

Shelby compressors are aluminum and painted silver. The tag should be mounted on the top with a bolt, not a clip.

AC cars use relocated horns, because of the condensor lines.

These two clips are actually used on Mustangs. They were on the support at the NJ assembly plant and never removed.

You can see the oil cooler here. All big block cars with AC received the ol cooler. Also shown is a factory plastic strap to secure the oil cooler lines.

This plastic cover protects the wiring.

This original paint car clearly shows the silicon sealant between the scoop and body.

Installment number 3 is a GT500 KR. This car appeared at Tulsa a couple of years ago. It is number 2280. Keep in mind not every survivor is 100%, however this car had some very good details to share. I will try to point out the good and the bad.

I am glad to see that GT500 KRs are finally appearing with the emblems properly located after restorations. Here is where the factory placed these. The snake emblem is slightly different from some later versions on this car.

Let's start in the engine bay. The oil cap breather hose is scripted. It's actually the same hose used on all 1968s.

You can see the remains of the engine identifcation sticker on the front of the passenger side cylinder head. The smog pump is missing and the hose clamps have been changed.

One thing you see after looking at survivors is a paint code written in crayon by the NJ Assembly plant. This is "I" for Lime Green Metalllic!

Here you can see the power steering bracket. It is not painted. It is phosphated. The power steering pump has been replaced. I think it should be the teal color.

The heater motor area on the firewall. Neatness was obviously not graded at the NJ Assembly.

AO Smith used a bonding agent and rivets to fasten ram air chambers to the hoods of KRs. Here you can see the redish glue. The red actually darkens with age.

Inside the glove box are the remains of the Mustang tire decal. Normally these are pulled off and a Shelby decal would be affixed over this.

In the trunk, a small jute pad and an "s" clip keeps the deck lid springs from rattling around. The cardboard is mounted over the trunk mat or under it, depending on whether or not the car had staggered shocks.

An original front, license plate mounting template. The plate bracket was shipped in the glovebox with this template to mount it on the front valence.

Installment number 4 - This car is a GT350 convertible. It has one of the nicest unrestored, under carriages I have seen. The car is # 1480. The engine compartment is pretty neat too....

The interior is saddle. That means the dash pad is dark brown. The other metal surfaces are painted medium brown.

I have seen this style of hood pin bracket before. It is a heavy duty style more frequently used on the California Specials. I am not sure which cars might have used these brackets or if it was a temporary substitution?

This engine compartment is very original. You can see the original thermactor (smog) found on all 4 speed GT350s. This car is equipped with the original cast iron intake and AUTOLITE carburetor.

The ends of the original smog tubes are crimped on this car. Some cars had smog rails that were capped.

The smog pump bracket is ainted black here. You can also see the stamping on the original hose.

Here is a detail that is not re-created too often. The wire seperator is white. I have found these white seperators on several of the GT350s.

Surprisingly, the dipstick on the Gt350 is painted blue. Chrome is not correct. You will also notice the blue painted wire clip on the valave cover. It was painted blue with the original steel valve cover and re-used by Shelby after the aluminum covers were installed. You can also see the other white wire seperator.

This wire is likely from an original shipping tag! Original tie rods do not have grease fittings on the ends.

Most show cars have pinch welds that are blacked out neatly. Neatness did not count on the under body of this car.

The other torque box looks very similar. At least they were consistent. :-)

The pinch weld is the lip below the rocker panel molding. It was blacked out on most cars at the factory. If you have seen a freshly painted car without the pinch weld blacked out, it is a major "faux pas". On a convertible, the seat reinforcement is also blacked out.

This seam received a black brush on sealer. The rubber plug for the spring is missing in this picture.


The seat belt anchors are tucked up in the transmission tunnel. The received the same brush on sealer. You can also see the drips in the original primer. Most experts agree that the cars were sent over floor spray jets that covered the bottom of the cars.

Even though the original phosphated springs have rusted, the orange paint slash is still visible.