• Feb 25, 2008


This just keeps getting more interesting by the day. Back in 2002, Carroll Shelby partnered with Unique Performance to produce continuation Shelby 427 GT500 "Super Snake" models. Only one "Super Snake" was built in 1967, so each of these "new" cars, built on a vintage 60's Mustang platform with a registered Shelby VIN, was sure to be one hot collectible. Unique Performance would build 75 of these 575-hp monsters, each with a base price of $214,000. Investors, and speculators, quickly placed their deposits.

As the months went by, the cars weren't coming out of the Texas warehouse in a timely manner. Customers began to ask questions. As things often go from bad to worse, the relationship between Shelby and Unique Performance went down the drain and it wasn't long before the police came knocking on the door. Unique Performance was reportedly sitting on $7 million in deposits, yet customers weren't getting their muscle cars. Other companies, such as Foose Design, quickly severed their relationship just as the police moved in to confiscate 61 incomplete body shells.

Case closed? Not even close. Now we have word that Unique Performance utilized hard-core Texas prison inmates to help build the cars, and each of the hand-built Mustangs contained over 13 gallons of Bondo body filler. VIN numbers were illegally removed, and some parts of this re-built American classic were coming from Taiwan. If there ever were a hot demand for continuation "Super Snake" Shelbys, we're betting the secondary market for this particular model is drying up rather quickly. Thanks for the tip, Cameron!

[Source: 67MustangBlog]



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  • 18 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just more proof (not that we needed it) that Shelby is a greedy snake.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The idiocy of these blog posts never cease to amaze me.

      Yes, poor Unique Performance is being victimized by Autoblog. And those snooty rich people are asking to much when they expect quality labor and parts after spending $200,000. Get real. I've always wondered what dim bulbs lie behind the screen.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Hhhhmmm, I've restored 10 cars in the last 10 years and started 3 companies in the same time. I guess that makes me pretty dim. Perhaps your understanding of the discussion is lacking as no one, as far as I can tell, is defending Unique Performance. What everyone is saying (including me) is that large amounts of Bondo or prison labor are not necessarily indicative of evil.

        What is is taking $7 million in orders and failing to deliver a product, but no one is arguing that this OK to do....
          • 6 Years Ago
          How many of those 10 restored cars cost $200,000? A big difference between this and some restored Triumph Spitfire.

          Your own understanding seems lacking if you think this story is being "over-sensational" as others have stated.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wouldn't most the Bondo be sanded off anyway? Sure you may mix alot but most of it is sanded off to get the smooth finish. So it's not like they are leaving the shop with every ounce of Bondo mixed and applied.

        • 6 Years Ago
        @montoym - sanding off most of the bondo is very typical when trying to get perfect surfaces. I was just going through this today where I would mix up a batch and most of it winds up on the floor. The more curvy the surface, the worse it is. Flat panels are also never flat from the factory.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That being the case, they certainly should not need 13 gallons per vehicle. The only reason that much would be used is shoddy sheetmetal work/laziness.

        Seems like just a ridiculous amount of Bondo to me, It has its uses, but it should be used sparingly as well, especially on a car like this.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The prison labor doesn't bother me depending on what tye of work they are doing. I think we should use more prison labor instead of letting them watch cable T.V., play rec league softball, and stew in their cells all day thinking soome pretty nasty thoughts. All of this on the U.S. taxpayers dollar.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bondo or not, they used prison inmates to help build their cars. inmates with little or no experience. That'll do it for me. Still, excessive Bondo use is just silly. For some reason in the USA people love plastering it on like a wonder filler. Where as in other countries excessive use is frowned upon. Do the hard yards, don't cut corners.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You would be surprised at the number of custom builders and restorers using prison auto shops as subcontractors. The inmates gain skills and possibly job recommendations, the state recoups some of the cost of their keep, and the business gets below-market labor.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Non-bondable men + bondo = unique performance
      • 6 Years Ago
      It doesn't mention the skill level of the inmates. Maybe they were former body men, or recieved training while behind bars? They do have enough time to learn a skill or two while there.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one that thinks that Autoblog is being a bit screechy on this one. It seems to me that most builders use Bondo to get that ultra-smooth and tight finish. Also, it seems that Ultra Performance was just trying to make use of an idle resource pool and control costs at the same time. It's not unheard of to use prison "talent" to help companies cost-effectively make things such as limousines and such.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think you posters seem to miss the point that these cars are supposed to be "new".

        What new car out there has Bondo, other than maybe the Tata?
        • 6 Years Ago
        @GTX141 = Almost all new cars have some form of Bondo, usually in a sprayable form. It's a perfectly legitimate way of smoothing surfaces. And a lot of cars have parts that are glued on using epoxy, like minivan roofs....

      • 6 Years Ago
      Sucks for those who bought UP cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A little overly sensational there, don't ya think? I won't deny that the company comes off as crooked, but there are valid reasons for Taiwanese parts and lots of bondo. Looks like they put a skim layer on every surface imaginable on the cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm quite sure that most SEMA show cars and other high-end hand made cars have LOTS of Bondo or equivalent. And so does any Ferrari made before about 1985. That's just the nature of handmade, hand hammered metal, particularly when it's done in a mass-production sort of way. And before bondo, it was lead....

      Note that it IS possible to build custom cars without bondo, but very, very few people have the skill and it's usually not worth the time anyway. The notable exception to this is stuff made from carbon fiber or fiberglass, as it leads itself to precision without the need for hard to master skills.

      There is also the problem of over-restored cars. Next time you go to an old car show, check out the panel gaps. Over-restored cars have Honda-like panel gaps (e.g. 1/8" or less), while original cars would have more like slightly more than 1/4". What's the difference? Sprayable Bondo (aka, SlickSand), a material that makes it trivial to get smooth surfaces (and close panel gaps) out of just about any surface and it used copiously by most high-end body shops. I've seen 1-3 gallons of the stuff used on hot rods....

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