What Is the Shelby Europa?

It’s well-documented that America’s love affair with the pony car began the day the first generation of Mustangs appeared in dealerships: April 17, 1964. Overseas, however, drivers took a lot longer to warm up to the Mustang’s charms. The interesting history of the Shelby Europa is in many ways indicative of the struggles European importers faced when trying to spread the pony car gospel.

Shelby Europa MustangClaude Dubois and the Birth of the Shelby Europa

The Shelby Europa story begins with Claude Dubois, a Belgian Mustang fanatic and owner of one of the first Shelby dealerships in Europe. Dubois, who made his fortune as a racecar driver on the Gran Prix circuit, began selling Mustangs in 1966 and eventually expanded his sales territory to include all of Western Europe.

When the original run of North American Shelbys stopped production in 1970, Dubois approached Carroll Shelby to inquire directly about licensing the car for the European market. The resulting cars ended up being produced initially by Bob Ford, a Detroit-area Ford dealer. Based on the Mach 1 platform, they could be outfitted with either a 351ci Windsor or 428CJ engine, which had been used in the GT350 and GT500 respectively.

Other features of the Shelby Europa included Koni shocks, front and rear spoilers, and an adjustable front suspension designed for racing. Special striping was included that featured the Shelby Europa logo. The cars were estimated to deliver either 360 (GT350) or 400 (GT500) horsepower. Because it did not meet federal emissions regulations at the time, it was impossible to legally re-import the Europa back into the US.


Despite the best intentions of everyone involved, only 14 Shelby Europas were ever produced. Of these, two were convertibles and 12 were fastbacks. Due to high tax rates and fuel prices throughout Europe, the market for a high performance pony car was weak in most countries. The Shelby Europa did enjoy a small following in Scandinavia, which is where most of the nine cars still in existence today can be found.

One Shelby Europa, a red coupe, was reported stolen in 1989 and never found — proof that there was at least one person in Europe who coveted this rare muscle car.