Restored Shelby Lone Star Unveiled at Amelia Island Concours

Shelby Lone Star sitting under a fabric covering on the grass at Amelia Island.
A restored one-of-a-kind concept car, known as the Shelby Lone Star, was recently unveiled at the 23rd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The Shelby Lone Star was to be a successor to the Shelby Cobra that would resemble the GT40. Originally known as the “Cobra III” the name “Lone Star” was given to the car when Ford reminded Shelby that they owned the Cobra name. The Lone Star was unfortunately canceled and hadn’t been seen in public since 1975. That is until Friday, March 11th when a sneak preview was given at the Concours.

Origin of the Lone Star

In 1966 Shelby American commissioned Len Bailey, who had designed the GT40 Mk. III and Mirage M-1, to design the Lone Star. The Lone Star’s current owner, a noted Shelby collector, mentioned to us that noted racing engineer and team manager John Wyer was instrumental in getting the car built. Wyer had run the GT40 racing program, and later the Mirage M-1 and Porsche 917K programs. His company J.W. Automotive Engineering Ltd. would assist Shelby in engineering the Lone Star.
It would be powered by a 289 Ford V8 mated to a ZF-sourced 5 speed transaxle. The sleek aluminum body was built by Gomm Metal Developments of Woking, England and finished in August of 1967. It was shipped to Shelby America in California a month later. This was when the car came to be known as the Lone Star, inspired by Shelby’s home state of Texas.
In a 1976 letter to the owner from Lone Star designer Len Bailey, Bailey states that: “The overall concept was for a cheaper, simplified version of the GT-40 which could be mademore [sic] easily and using existing parts for suspension, wheels and brakes. Those parts are largely derived from AC Cobra, so providing a continuation of demand for existing stock.”
According to a 1967 article in Autoweek, production of the Lone Star “hinged on U.S. legislation that would have exempted small-volume manufacturers from then-new safety standards.” The safety exemption would not come to be. Ford withdrew from racing, meaning no funding would come from them, so the project came to an end.


Aside from a missing front bumper, the car was mostly complete when the current owner purchased it. It would eventually undergo a 12-year restoration by Geoff Howard of Connecticut shop Accurate Restorations.
The car underwent some re-engineering along the way in Geoff’s capable hands to make it serviceable and more drivable. It had originally been built as a prototype where it could be driven but wasn’t developed to the level of a production prototype where it could easily be serviced. The engine and transaxle now have conventional mounts, rather than being welded into the car. After some mild tweaking by a Ford expert, Geoff says it’s making 316 hp. The front and rear body sections can now be removed for easier access for maintenance. They were previously attached with aircraft rivets, covered in body filler and paint. The original adjustable Armstrong shocks are now replaced by Koni double-adjustable shocks. Now-unobtainable suspension bushings have been replaced throughout with radial bearings.
Geoff also described to us how he recreated the front bumper from photographs. It was reconstructed by carefully bending six pieces of sheet metal, with an English wheel, which were then welded together. This was a tricky process, as the heat from welding would cause the bumper to bend, which meant having to bend and massage the metal again along the way to ensure that it would fit the Lone Star’s body before chroming the final piece.
The list of changes, if we were to list it in whole, would be quite long, but Geoff estimates that he’s been able to keep the car about 95% original.

Unveiling at the Amelia Island 2018 Concours d’Elegance

In the early evening of Friday, March 9th, the freshly-restored Shelby Lone Star was unveiled behind the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island.
Shelby Lone Star being unveiled on the green. The sheet is slowly pulled away form the car's body.
Front image of the restored Shelby Lone Star.
Interior view of the Shelby Lone Star with Smiths gauges shown behind the mostly-original interior.

The next day, the Lone Star was shown again, and to a much larger audience at the Concours d’Elegance. That afternoon, it won the Chairman’s Choice Award.

Here is Geoff Howard being handed the Chairman’s Choice Award by 2018 Amelia honoree Emmerson Fittipaldi.
Now the Lone Star is not only a legendary Shelby performance car but an award-winning one that can be regularly driven and enjoyed out on the road in the future. Congratulations to Geoff and the owners on the completion of such a historic restoration.

All images and video Copyright 2018 Hooniverse/Bryce Womeldurf

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11 responses to “Restored Shelby Lone Star Unveiled at Amelia Island Concours”

  1. nanoop Avatar

    Great story, great images, and thanks for another curiosity I now know too many details about!
    The mug shot… astonished, moustached uncle of this one?

    1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

      A friend of mine was also thinking Jag, but XJ-13 rather than E-Type.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        XJ-13? Well, I didn’t know that neither… Yes, I am into cars, but as one can see, I’m into the wrong ones…

  2. Zentropy Avatar

    Great coverage of a car I didn’t realize ever existed. The photos are excellent, but I must say that it doesn’t sadden me that the Lone Star was canceled. It may have historical significance, but it’s not terribly pretty. For me, it’s the Shelby Daytona that gets the adrenaline pumping.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      I wonder how effective it would have been against the Ferrari P3, there is a marked difference in the body style. Also Ford was working on the F3L too.
      Fantastic article Bryce, very well done. I didn’t know of this car either.

      1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

        I’m fairly certain that Len Bailey designed both of this car and the F3L.

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Apparently so – presumably the F3L was an evolution in aerodynamics
          terms at least, they look similar enough for that to be the case.
          Several Daytonas – another world, really…

          1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

            They both sort of resemble the Mirage M1 as well, also I think a Bailey design, which kind of takes it full circle, because I think the M1 was an evolution of the GT40, which the Lone Star is based on.

      2. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        What cars can look like when designed for low aerodynamic drag with just enough added to cancel any lift. No-one knew much about downforce back then.But with a 350kmh/220 mph top speed they soon realised front/rear lift balance was important, the top speed 3.0 litres tuned for 24hr racing can get with a 0.27 Cd. In contrast a typical Le Mans competitor recently has a Cd of 0.33 or worse but literally a tonne of downforce, ( or more! ).
        And the cars back then were prettier for it weren’t they?

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Yes, large airliners take off at slower speeds! I think the Lotus 11 with just an 1100cc engine could hit 170 mph. There were a lot of pretty, curvaceous race cars back then where the aero didn’t exactly work in practice.

    2. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

      Funny enough, I think the owner of this has owned several Daytonas as well.