Dale Amy
August 5, 2014
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

Quick quiz: All '08 Shelby GTs were Vista Blue, right? Yes…for most of us. You see, Ford dealers in the self-appointed center of the universe—more commonly known as California—got together and requested a special version of the '08 Shelby GT that would be unique to their fair state. The agreeable folks at Shelby Automobiles responded with a special run of around 215 Grabber Orange coupes—no convertibles—striped in silver, and officially called the GT-C (though their side stripes still just read "Shelby GT”). Aside from this sunny hue, plus Carroll's famous signature on their passenger-side sunvisors, these "C” models were otherwise identical to any other '08 Shelby GT—which is to say they were sharp-looking, great-handling rides. Inevitably, because of its limited production and geographical exclusivity, the GT-C quickly became something of a collectible amongst Shelby connoisseurs. (As a side note, there was also a limited West Coast model run for 2007 called the Shelby GT-California.)

We can assure you that collectability was the last thing on Rick Yates' mind when, late one night in 2010, while thoroughly lost and in search of the freeway on his way home from an L.A. Dodgers game, he and his daughter spotted a bright orange GT-C sitting in a Hyundai dealership showroom in North Hollywood. By then, Rick had already been jonesing for a GT-C for a couple years. "After first seeing an '08 Shelby GT-C at the Shelby 85th Birthday Bash in Las Vegas, I told my daughter ‘Someday we will have one,'” says Rick, who admits to having been smitten with Shelby's creations since first encountering a '69 GT 500 way back when he was just 14 years old.

The CS8 grille and towhook give the GT-C a track-ready attitude.

As for that GT-C for sale in North Hollywood, Rick says he acted quickly. "The next morning I called, and 15 minutes later we were on our way to pick it up.” This speedy transaction occurred despite a real language barrier: Rick says the dealership served a primarily Korean clientele and he had trouble finding a salesperson fluent in English. Amazingly, the coupe he had accidentally stumbled across in the dead of night turned out to be brand new, and had been languishing on this same showroom floor for two model years, so the seller—who was also a Ford dealer—was highly motivated. Rick says he got himself a heck of a deal—like, under $25K—and happily took his Grabber Orange prize home to join an '07 Shelby GT/SC already in his garage in Bakersfield.

So, with a factory-fresh, rare, and collectible '08 Shelby GT-C now added to the collection, Rick's plan was surely to keep it bone stock, simply waxing and admiring it every day while waiting for the value to rise right? Nope, not a chance, as Rick follows Carroll Shelby's well-documented doctrine that his cars were built to be driven hard and enjoyed, not primped and polished like static museum pieces. "The very first time I talked to Carroll, the first thing he asked me was if I drove my car to the event. When I said yes, he smiled and went on his way; that is something I will never forget.”

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So, within three months of taking delivery, Rick's new coupe was fully modified to the form you see laid out before you. He already owned those stunning 20-inch Shelby/Alcoa 50th Anniversary rims and matching rubber, so they were the first substitutions, followed shortly by a Shelby/Wilwood six-piston Big Brake kit up front, along with 14-inch rotors out back—giving observers something to gawk at between those wickedly thin forged spokes. Next came a Fays2 Watt's link that Rick bolted up in place of the factory Panhard bar.

If you detect a racy theme here, it's because in addition to serving as Rick's daily driver, his GT-C also sees track duty on the road courses at Willow Springs and Sears Point. Incidentally, these are often two-car assaults on the race tracks, with Rick's daughter, Michelle, frequently behind the wheel of the family '07 GT/SC.

Under the Shelby pinned factory hood lies a 4.6L Three-Valve you could eat off of, just be sure to wear your sunglasses when you sit down for your meal! That KB twin-screw has some serious shine going on.

The GT-C arrived packing 319 flywheel horsepower from its 4.6L Three-Valve cammer, but since his other Shelby is a GT/SC, Rick needed more. After some research and homework, he decided to ship the coupe down the road to Mackenzie's Mustang Supply in Palm Springs for installation of a polished Shelby/Kenne Bell 2.6L twin-screw supercharger. Tuned by Advanced Engine Development, the otherwise stock Three-Valve now delivers 511 hp and 485 lb-ft to those 20-inch tires, giving it the thrust to match its looks.

While at Mackenzie's, the rear axle was removed to have the (always) rusty centersection painted. It was reinstalled with MMR polished lower control arms and a Steeda upper arm, and fitted with a Shelby KR axle reservoir. Eibach rear springs came onboard to provide just a little lowering (but the GT-C's stock Ford Racing coils remain up front). Maximum Motorsports' caster/camber plates now sit atop the strut towers, and the struts and shocks are now Tokico D-Spec, giving Rick quick track adjustability.

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The GT-C features a standard black leather Mustang interior accentuated by Carroll Shelby signature headrests, a Hurst shifter topped by a GT/SC orange shift knob, and signature floor mats.

Other personalization touches include a Shelby CS8 grille, complete with driving lights, and the company's dash-top triple-gauge pod (boost, fuel pressure, and oil pressure) to keep an eye on his investment. That investment doesn't stand still for long. Rick has so far clocked over 17,000 miles and seems to have enjoyed every minute of ownership.

He sums it up this way: "Carroll Shelby's history and legacy have been well documented over the years, but my thoughts are more about the love of owning and driving his cars. It's a hobby that brings people together. I would have never known the hundreds of people I know today without Carroll's passion for cars. It's funny how one person can change your life, how Carroll Shelby has changed my life. I have made friendships that will last a lifetime, and that is priceless…” Somewhere, we suspect Carroll is smiling.