• Sep 11th 2009 at 11:57AM
  • 101

Shelby GT500KR - Click above for high-res image gallery

When we drove the Shelby GT500KR at Miller Motorsports Park last May, we were impressed with the steps that Ford and Shelby had taken to make its new King of the Road a special vehicle. Not only was the KR a huge improvement over the GT500 (which led to the development of the 2010 GT500), but the car featured trick items like a carbon fiber hood and lightweight wheels wrapped with R-compound tires. At that time, Shelby also proudly told us that none of the KR-specific parts would be available for sale separately to ensure that owners of lesser Mustangs could not make shadetree replicas that might compromise the KR's image. Of course, all of this exclusivity and performance came at a price: $79,995 to be exact.

$18,400 for a new hood, $3,392.50 for a front spoiler, and $632.50 for a set of hood pins
Unfortunately, as one GT500KR owner has learned the hard way, replacement parts for this pony car can be surprisingly dear. After an unfortunate incident with a critter on the road resulted in a modestly damaged front end, the owner in question was shocked to learn about the high cost of his vehicle's replacement parts. And as is increasingly the way these days, he aired his displeasure on the web. That initial report has since touched off a firestorm in the online Shelby community, with the issue spreading to numerous forums and chat rooms.

So just why were these replacement parts such a contentious issue? In the main, it's a numbers thing. As in $18,400 for a new hood, $3,392.50 for a front spoiler, and even $632.50 for a set of hood pins, among other things. Further, the disgruntled owner informed a forum member that Shelby requires any damaged KR parts to be returned to their facility in Las Vegas before new replacements can be sent out.

Obviously, a bit of due diligence was needed to verify the claimed replacement pricing and parts return policy, so we got on the phone with Jim Owens, vice president of marketing and communications at Shelby to get the straight scoop. Click through to the jump to hear what we learned.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

[Sources: Spokentorque.com, Team Shelby]

As it turns out, the parts pricing cited by the owner was correct. And while the hood's cost in particular sounds exorbitant, Shelby's Owens took pains to explain that not only is the part in question the only full carbon-fiber production hood available in a U.S. vehicle (read: it's expensive), it has gone through the same exhaustive certification procedure as any other OEM product – including crash testing (read: really expensive). Says Owens of the hood:

"I will tell you – there was no less design, engineering and testing - that went into this component... than goes into any other component in the exotic car world. It was the single biggest piece of this program."

Given the small number of GT500KR units manufactured, the hood's associated research, development and manufacturing costs turned out to be particularly high, and those factors were calculated into the replacement cost using an off-the-shelf parts pricing matrix. Said another way, Shelby says it hasn't grafted an exclusivity surcharge onto these KR parts – it maintains that the company has used a standard cost formula to determine how they should be priced.

Despite this, in the interest of assuaging owner fears and staving off more negative feedback from various online communities, Shelby's Owens says that it has reconsidered its pricing strategy on the KR's hood. To wit:
"So, we got the feedback off of the websites – the Team Shelby site specifically. Based off of that fact, we are lowering the price of the hood - substantially. We're lowering it to $9,700. Additionally, we are now also going to go through all of the remaining carbon fiber components and take a look at that pricing, including skullcaps and splitters."
Owens indicates that Shelby has been in extensive discussions with the affected KR owner's insurance company, State Farm, and although company representatives have yet to speak directly with the customer, they plan to do so. Still, State Farm reps were understandably nonplussed when they got their client's initial repair estimates from Shelby and the whole process is taking months to set right.
"The last thing we wanted was a customer slapping a KR carbon fiber hood on his V6"

For clarity's sake, Owens pointed out that hood replacement is not a widespread issue – just three KR hoods have been replaced – the animal-damaged piece on the vehicle in question, as well as two dealer units that were damaged in shipping and transportation.

But there's more to this story. Perhaps just as interesting an issue is Shelby's parts-return mandate. The reason that Shelby requires damaged KR parts to be returned to the company is in the interest of maintaining exclusivity. It's exactly the same reason why the company has declined to make KR model-specific components available to aftermarket buyers. Says Owens:

The last thing we wanted was a V6 Mustang customer going over to his dealer, grabbing one of those KR carbon fiber hoods, and slapping it on his V6. To me, that's more of a disservice to our customers and brands – both SVT and Shelby. So that was our guiding principal, if you will... So when we set up the returns - the warranty and service parts return piece, we wanted to make sure we got those components back so that they were not on the aftermarket."

Just how serious is Shelby about getting those KR parts back? Perhaps some of you remember the recently departed NBC Knight Rider redux – a number of KR hoods were used on K.I.T.T. in the production of that television series. Shelby even managed to get those parts returned.

It should be noted that the scenario in which an automaker sees fit to call back old parts after a repair is hardly new. According to Owens, Ford, General Motors and other automakers have similar policies in place – presumably the difference is that they rarely choose to exercise those provisions – or perhaps it's just that customers are generally unaware of this practice. In effect, Owens says that the automakers have a right to call back damaged parts after dealers put them on the shelves in their backrooms: "In Ford's warranty and in General Motors' warranty... they have what is called 'parts retention'... Ford has a right to call back parts after a certain period of time. We just made these mandatory parts returns." Presumably, in most such cases, those damaged parts are returned to the parent automaker for failure analysis to improve future product quality – a factor that may or may not also be at work here. In any case, Shelby itself pays for any shipping costs associated with the parts.

When we asked what happens to a returned part, Owens replied:

"We have a complete building's worth of KR inventory on our property in Las Vegas that is caged, fenced, and has cameras on it. And it [the item] goes into our warranty parts return section. And we will keep it there, and we will destroy it after a period of time."

Unlike some previous takeoff parts from other models, Owens says Shelby isn't even using KR parts for auction prizes to support the Carroll Shelby Foundation, a charity organization that works to provide assistance to children in need.

Finally, we had to ask: What happens if an owner is not in possession of the damaged KR parts – meaning that they cannot be returned to Shelby? Maybe the vehicle was in a crash and the owner was hospitalized and nobody had the presence of mind to make sure the parts were accounted for at the scene of the accident. Or perhaps just as likely, what would someone do if their KR were stripped? Owens says that Shelby evaluates each customer inquiry on a case-by-case basis, so presumably with plenty of documentation (think: VIN, police report, copious photographs, etc.), the damaged KR will be repaired.

What do you think of all this? Is Shelby handling GT500KR parts replacement in a fair manner? Is exclusivity worth encountering these sorts of stipulations? Drop your fellow readers a line in 'Comments.'

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's only fair if they proactively disclosed the replacement parts price list to the buyer before they purchase the vehicle. That won't stop a deer from walking out in front of you, but at least you'll know beforehand how much it will cost to fix and therefore less likely to round up an Internet posse.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah you should know how much an oil change is for a GT-R before you get 2 jobs to make the lease payments. We're not talking about typical cost of ownership here, either. Who plans to wreck their car? Or are you telling me you ask for a replacement parts list on any non-factory standard equipment you option in? Didn't think so. That's where the "proactive" part on the seller side comes in.

        This is a unique situation. I don't think buying a car with a $20K hood should be the typical dealer experience you get with a Yaris. That said, I also don't think it's in the price range that's only available to the "money is no object" crowd.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Proactively disclose the cost of parts? There isn't another car company out there that does that. Exclusivity and performance costs more than common and pedestrian. Someone buying this car should know that. If the potential KR owners are concerned about affording repair costs, they need to do the research themselves and then decide if the car is still within their means. That's true for someone buying a GT3, an Accord, or a Yaris too, BTW. The purchase price is only the start of the cost of owning a car. Consider it all before signing on the dotted line.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So your telling me that I buy a car for $80k, have an accident, pay for the [really expensive] repairs and have to send the original parts back? I understand wanting to keep the parts from being sold to the aftermarket crowd (I too would be angry to see a $20k mustang that looked just like one I bought for $80k) but requiring I return something I already bought and getting nothing in return is criminal. I work on vehicles all the time and spare parts are always nice to have. Parts that are a little damaged can be repaired and kept in case the damage should happen to the new part, say another animal gets in the cars way. Why would I elect to return a $20k (now $9k) hood that I already paid for, just to pay another 20/9k for its replacement. I understand most people would not keep the part and it probably would not be repairable but it should be the owners CHOICE to keep what they have already paid for. At the very least the owner could have fun testing how much abuse carbon fiber can really take... :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      So now it only costs 10 grand to replace the hood. What a relief!
      • 5 Years Ago
      hey if you wanna buy this piece of trash of a car you gotta pay the price right?
      • 5 Years Ago
      So...a person goes out, buys the overweight pig of an ugly car, HITS something...and then complains that it costs money to fix??????

      My god...he should run for President.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You spend that kind of money for any super car expect to pay a premium for any kind of repair. He had to know the car had carbon fiber parts. Carbon fiber is expensive on any car. He could have bought 3 Mustangs with what he paid with change left over. Of course it wouldn't have been a Shelby but he would at least have transportation.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Do I get tip points for posting that Spoken Torque link in a previous post regarding the KR?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Owens argument about why they can demand the parts be shipped back is retarded.

      He cites Ford and GM's policies, which are warranty policies. Under a warranty, the manufacturer is paying for the cost of replacing a defective part. Most of the time, they request the part back so there aren't defective parts that were fixed under warranty floating around.

      In this guys situation, he damaged the car and he is paying for the replacement part. He should be able to do whatever the hell he pleases with the hood. Now if Shelby wants to replace his hood free of charge, then IMO they could request the old hood back. But as long as the owner is paying himself for a new hood then I would tell Shelby to go shove it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly. You bought the first FN hood, you own it. It isn't a warranted part. If the insurance company wants the old part, I have no problem with that.

        Why is it all you ever hear about Shelby anymore is stories about what a crook he is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Funny, Shelby would probably tell the customer to have fun with their broke-ass car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What Shelby is doing is what the software industry has always done; you never own the software you purchase. You have purchased the right to use the product in accordance with the EULA.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why does this suprise anyone??!!! Shelby and Ford took it to all of us with the Clutches that didn't last past a year and then walked away....... if it was any other company there would have been a recall and all our clutches would have been covered. I have a 2007 and a 2009 both had to have clutches replaced before 20,000 miles. WOW...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Personally, I think the hood is one of the least attractive parts of the Shelby cars.

      it is huge, and tall, and gives an already high-cowl car an even higher front end to see over.

      It looks like a tumor.

      The retro-tastic 69 Shelby GT500 re-creation that was here a few days ago looked better, with it's flatter, lower hood, and full width charger-like circa-1969 grille.

      I didn't even like the hoods on the 67-68 Shelbys in the first place.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, granted my car has a hood scope but that feeds an intercooler it doesn't act as ram air. The simple heat extracter hoods of the gt500 look nicer and since ram airs only work at tripple digit speeds the front heat extracters work better.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder what the hood on my '04 Z06 Commemorative Edition is worth. It too is made of Carbon Fiber. I know that stock fiberglass Viper hoods are about $9k-$10k. I unfortunately learned that my old Z3's hood was worth about $2500 when I was being a little careless one day.
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