Repairing A Tail Light Panel On a 1968 Shelby Convertible KR – San Diego, California

     I just finished working on a third 1968 Shelby convertible this month which was a GT-350 model. The other two were 68 GT-500 KR convertibles. Shelby made 404 GT-350 convertibles with 302 V-8’s, and 518 GT-500 convertibles that came with the 428 big block. Those production numbers were out of a total of 4451 made in 1968 at the Metuchen, New Jersey facility. The GT-350 was experiencing dim tail lights on the driver’s side. After initial diagnostics, I discovered that it was a grounding issue. Another fact about the 1968 Shelby is that they used tail lights from a 1965 Thunderbird up until 1970. The 1967 Shelby’s used 67-68 Cougar tail lights.

     If you have ever had a chance to see underneath a 67-68 Shelby tail light panel, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. Shelby received plain Mustang GT convertibles that were transformed into the iconic Shelby’s. The exterior is made up of fiberglass bolt-ons. For the most part, the fiberglass could be swapped back to the original sheet metal, but the rear tail light panel would need a little more work to change it back. You’ll notice that the Mustang’s original tail light openings were partially cut out, and two other holes on each side were cut to make clearance for the Shelby bulb sockets. They also, added a harness to accommodate a total of six bulbs, and they had a separate ground from the chassis to the housing. The tail light housings were not protected in the trunk like the regular Mustangs, so they can become dirty and corroded. The first thing I did was move the main ground wire to a better location which made the lights a little brighter. I also repainted the inside of the tail light housing with a reflective paint, but they were still hard to see during the day. I next preformed a ground test directly to each bulb socket, and I noticed a major improvement. The bulb sockets are pressed into the housing, and also become  loose and corroded over time. I carefully pulled each one out, and cleaned them. For the sequential to operate correctly, Shelby installed a slow flasher. If the flasher is too fast, they will not sequence thru the Dynamite Sticks. The Dynamite Sticks are what made the tail lights blink sequentially. When buying flasher pods at a parts store, it’s luck of the draw to find one. You can avoid going thru a entire box of flashers by just purchasing an adjustable flasher pod.

If you’re having tail light issues with Classic Mustang or Shelby’s convertible, then give Classic Resto Garage a call at a 619-929-8506, or fill the contact form.

Happy Cruising!

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