Every year, SEMA offers up some of the most unique car builds, but there's one this year that carries more legacy with it than just about any other. The 1968 Ford Mustang EXP 500 "Green Hornet" was one of two singular notchback coupe Mustang prototype test vehicles that birthed future Shelby Mustangs and stands as the inspiration for the current and GT 500. The "Green Hornet" has been restored not once, but twice, and now it's probably as, if not more, beautiful than the day it was born. 

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This is not a restomod but a full, frame-up restoration to the original spec. 

The nickname and the alpha-numeric internal names each have meaning. Once Shelby received the base car from Ford, it called the Mustang EXP-500 for "Experimental 500", and it then received a special paint job known as Lime Gold, essentially a green lacquer with gold flake. Bill Cosby happened to be one of Carroll Shelby's friends back then and called it "Green Hornet" when he laid eyes on it, based on his Fat Albert character's favorite superhero. Since then, the EXP 500 has been known as the "Green Hornet", and the rest is history.

If Carroll Shelby was still alive, he might cringe at the name given by his old friend who's now incarcerated in Phoenix, AZ. Ironically, that's only about 20 minutes away from where the Green Hornet was put up for auction at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale back in 2013. 

green hornet mustang goodell
The Chief Engineer, Fred Goodell, behind the wheel. (image: Stangpit)

The features on the Green Hornet included a special grille with inset Marchal fog lights, racing-style spin-and-click hood pins, a twin-scoop hood, a decklid spoiler, and taillights from the 1965 Ford Thunderbird. These features made it to production versions, but sadly the Green Hornet's independent rear suspension did not. That feature didn't show up on the Mustang until recently. 

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Somehow the Green Hornet ended up at the Ford Employee and Auction Resale Lot in Dearborn, Michigan instead of being destroyed. A Ford executive purchased it, drove it on public roads for years and then bequeathed it to his son who wisely figured out the car's illustrious provenance and contacted Paul Newitt who wrote a book stating the Green Hornet (and Li'l Red) had been destroyed. The car was restored in 1993 but not to the original specifications. In 2003, it was purchased by Craig Jackson of Barrett-Jackson fame and fully restored in 2018. 

Find Local Discounts on the Ford Mustang

This Mustang Bullitt we reviewed might not be an EXP500, but it's still one sweet muscle car. Read our full review:

2019 Ford Bullitt Mustang 

ford bullitt mustang