XR7-G in SAAC magazine

I received an email saying there is an article in the latest SAAC magazine saying there is no relation between Shelby Automotive and the G cars. Mercury went directly to AO Smith to have the program done. And also purported in the article is anyone claiming such relation is trying to enhance their vehicle’s worth. I haven’t seen the article, I’m sure someone here gets this publication.
Wasn’t there a letter with SA about the Gs and I’ve seen S8MS on certain G parts??? :think:

I’m not a SAAC member anymore, so I don’t have access to the latest edition of The Shelby American - but - they ran an article on the XR7-G Cougars in and around 2009 that was written by then Delmarva Cougar Club President and G owner Jim Karamanis. In that article Jim repeated the oft told theory that the XR7-G Cougar was initiated by a desire from Hertz Rent A Car to rent such a vehicle. In the winter, 2009 issue of The Shelby American a gentlemen by the name of Don H. Coleman, who was the product planner at L-M in 1968, responded to Jim’s article saying that the XR7-G was not developed specifically for Hertz and was not developed by Shelby Automotive but was fully planned and developed by L-M. A copy of Mr. Coleman’s response is attached below.

I’m thinking maybe that is what whoever sent you that email is referring to?

While the planning and designing of the XR7-G Cougar may have been done fully by L-M, construction was assigned to Shelby Automotive and they vended out the conversions to A.O. Smith just as they were doing for that years Shelby Mustangs.

There is tons of documentation of Shelby Automotive’s involvement in the engineering, pricing and conversions of XR-7 Cougars into XR7-Gs not to mention the G specific parts blue prints that Bill Basore has that bare the Shelby Automotive stamp.


In addition, in his exhaustive research conducted during the restoration of his (one and only) 1967 Shelby convertible, owner Brian Styles has found original hand written notes that show Shelby American in Los Angeles was involved in the XR7-S/XR7-G Cougars at least as early as the spring of 1967.



Fascinating info, guys. Is is beyond all hope that the G prototype with the Gurney Weslake 302 might still be out there somewhere?

After they screwed Gurney over the heads, he probably pulled them himself and burned the car to the ground.

To bad Ford screwed Dan like that. Really left him holding the bag. I know some of the design work if not all of it was done at A.O Smith. I’ve met Chris Engemann a designer at A.O smith and did manly Shelby design work and did the 68 Shelby hood at A.O Smith. He said Lynn Griffin sat next to him and his main responsibility was the XR7 G. He was always looking over Lynn’s shoulder as the XR7 G design work was more interesting.

Ford treated Shelby American/Shelby Automotive like they were a division of Ford and would assign engineers and designers to Shelby, like Claus Arning who designed the 427 Cobra’s coil spring chassis and stylist Chuck McHose who designed the 1967 Shelby Mustang and engineer Fred Goodell. If you look at the copies of the original Ford, Shelby Automotive, A.O. Smith paperwork from 1968, you’ll see Mr. Goodell cc’d on many of the communications.

Mr. Goodell was a schoolmate of Henry Ford II so it’s no surprise he ended up working for Ford. He was sent to Shelby by Ford and was Shelby’s Chief Engineer from 1966 to 1970.

I was a SAAC member in 1988 when I received The Shelby American #53 which had an interview with Mr. Goodell in which he dropped the bombshell about Shelby Automotive’s involvement with the XR7-G Cougars which seemed to catch the interviewers (Rick Kopec, Vincent Liska & Howard Pardee) by surprise.

In the interview Mr. Goodell mentions that the company car that his wife drove was a Cougar.

Later in the interview SAAC asks: We’ve seen photos of A.O. Smith’s facility in Ionia. It looks plenty big. Was it big enough?

GOODELL: Oh, yes, In fact we not only increased 1968 production by some 25% over 1967 production but we also built all of the Gurney Cougar XR-7Gs with the sunroof and the special Thunderbirds with the sunroof.

SAAC: Did we hear you right? All Cougar XR-7Gs were built at Shelby Automotive?

GOODELL: That’s right.

SAAC: Well, it looks like the prices on Gurney Cougar XR-7Gs just took a jump. Did the Gurney Cougars come under the corporate banner of Shelby Automotive before they were invoiced to Mercury?

GOODELL: No. We handled it the same way as if we were a division of Ford at that time. It was an inter-division transfer; those vehicles were transferred to us on a note - a memo invoice - and then we finished them and billed them back at the delivered price. In addition to the XR-7Gs and the sunroof Thunderbirds, we were going to build a Lincoln limousine in 1971. We had finally gotten the Lincoln Division to agree that, yeah, they needed a limousine to compete with Cadillac and since they could never fit it in with their own plans, we could build it. That program never got underway because Shelby Automotive ceased operations before it could get started.

So Goodell’s answers are a little confusing. On one hand when asked directly if the XR7-Gs were built at Shelby Automotive he answers ‘That’s right”. But when asked if the Cougars came under the corporate banner of Shelby Automotive before they were invoiced to Mercury he says “No”, but that question too is a little confusing. The question is asking how the Cougar’s were invoiced.

Goodell worked for Shelby Automotive and not A.O. Smith and later when he says “we”, as in “We handled it the same way as if we were a division of Ford” and “we finished them then and billed them back at the delivered price” he is referring to Shelby.

  • Phillip

Great read. I find this type of stuff very interesting. I like knowing that Shelby Automotive had some involvement with the Cougar XR7G however small it was, there is still the connection non the less. On the other hand I would not go as far as calling the XR7G a Shelby Cougar as I have seen mentioned once or twice on different websites. Now it would be awesome if the design sketches of the hood and fender extensions ever show up if they exist.

When the Lincoln-Mercury Division of Ford Motor Company complained about XR7-G quality they complained to Shelby Automotive and questioned what quality control inspection procedures they (Shelby) used to measure A.O. Smith’s effectiveness as per a May 1968 intra-company communication.

So I think it’s pretty safe to say that L-M did not go directly to A.O. Smith to have the XR7-G conversions made and that Shelby Automotive was intimately involved.

Does that make my G worth more money?

I have no bloody idea - It is what it is.

  • Phillip

Well said Philip. We enjoy the XR7G for what it is, a classy high end muscle/pony car that stands on it’s own merits.

Viva la G! :beerchug:

And in regards the Gurney-Weslake heads - oh, what might have been…

There’s just no way to look at that top picture without drooling.

For those of you that might like to build your fantasy Gurney-Weslake or Gurney-Eagle powered Cougar 1/25 scale model, you can scrounge the engine, including those beautiful valve covers, from the “Dan Gurney’s Olsonite Eagle” model kit from MPC.

I’ll second that…Sure is pretty.

Ok, this is great information and a great read. But it begs me to ask why the same SAAC magazine is now saying that Shelby had nothing to do with the XR-7-G’s.

I hope someone writes in and enlightens the author.

I’m guessing because the prospect of “Shelby” Cougars is a threat to their sense of exclusivity…

The SAAC article is representative of why I got out of Mustangs. That community, in addition to the usual polarizations involving who’s a “real” hobbyist and who’s not that affect adherents of every marque, is so stratified into year/model/engine/body specialties that they might as well not even think of themselves as Mustang owners. When you start grouping yourselves by the color of your otherwise identical cars, something has gone amiss.

I’ve really enjoyed reading the history that Phillip, Bill, Don, and many others contribute in topics like these but what I enjoy more is there is never a whiff of “and that makes us more special than anyone else”. Cougar people are the most down-to-earth enthusiasts I’ve ever experienced. Every time I think about checking off another one of the bucket list cars I still haven’t owned, I think about leaving this community. It’s exactly why I replaced CatVert with BBCat. What I really wanted to do at the time was a '68 Torino GT, formal roof or convertible. But the people were the thing I wasn’t willing to trade off, so I got the Cougar equivalent of my old Torino GT, right down to the color combination.


I wonder if there are any expanded photos of that setup showing the hood.

Well, ClawIt got an email with someone telling him what was in the SAAC publication, so until someone reads it we can’t be sure what was said and what the context was or if maybe someone was misconstruing Mr. Coleman’s response to the XR7-G article written by Jim.

Lord knows, I wasn’t there but I don’t see how Mr. Coleman’s can say that Shelby Automotive did not develop the XR7-G - I mean, perhaps Shelby Automotive didn’t develop it but the evidence is overwhelming that they were involved to some degree in the development and the construction. It’s all there in black & white.

Of course, I’m not the brightest crayon in the crayon box, so that is just how I see’s it.

I purchased the latest (4th) edition of the SAAC Shelby Registry 1968-1969-1970 and they mention that the XR7-G conversions were carried out at A.O. Smith at the same time as the 1968 Shelby Mustangs, but they are kinda circumvent stating Shelby Automotive’s involvement. They also say that the XR7-G came with the 427 so there you go. Cougars are not their thing, and that is fine by me.

Cougars are OUR thing, and it is up to us to keep the flame burning and set the record straight.

As I said, the paperwork exists and it is real and the XR7-Gs are what they are.

This also all goes to how important it is for the classic Mercury Cougar to have a strong national club (like the Cobras and Shelbys have in the SAAC). The amount of misinformation that is out there is amazing. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a modern day Mercury Cougar article that didn’t have some facts wrong.

I’ll never forget reading a magazine article in the '80 that said that the 1967 Trans Am Cougars did not win a single race, that Gurney never won in a Cougar and that they were not good race cars.

When I found my first original Trans Am program from 1968 that listed all the results from the '67 TA season I was amazed at how well they did.

It fueled my interest in Cougar racing history and I bought every pertinent vintage TA and NASCAR program I could get my hands on.

When I first got word that Ross Myers had restored one of the Bud Moore Cougars (both a TA car and then later driven by Tiny Lund in the NASCAR Baby Grand series) and that he was bringing it to Carlisle I was ecstatic!

I arrived at Carlisle bright and early on the very first morning and made a b-line to the building where the Cougar was displayed. I got as close as I could and was standing there taking it all in when some dude next to me scoffed and told his girlfriend that it was never a successful race car.

I couldn’t help myself and turned to him and politely said “That car right there won 9 races and the 1968 NASCAR Grand American Series Championship” (ok, I know maybe that exact chassis didn’t, Bud switched cars around) but my point was made. Overall, the Cougars won 12 of 19 races in 1968.

I’d also like to add that I’m pretty active over at the SAAC forum for quite some time now and those guys have been great. I’ve learned a ton and that is where I hooked up with Boss 429 Cougar owner Ed Meyer among others.

More than a few Shelby Mustang owners have owned Gs at one time or another.


The G prototype had a 390-4V “S” code engine. Your information is faulty.

Shelby Automotive had exactly the same amount of interaction with the Shelby GT500 and the Shelby GT350 in 1967 - 70 as it had with the Cougar XR7-G. In a nutshell, Ford sent the cars to AO Smith, Shelby and Gurney got checks, and the cars -after completion by AO Smith - went to either Ford or Mercury or Hertz.