In 1964, the Ford Motor Corporation fired the first shot in the Pony Car Wars, introducing an adaptation of their popular compact Falcon that would change the American car market and even stood as a symbol of a revolutionary decade: the Mustang. Itself a compact sporty car offered at an attractive price and aimed at youthful starting car buyers, the Mustang immediately made a big impression and it sold very well; the original Mustang still holds the record for first-year new-model sales of an astounding 680,989 units between April 1964 and August 1965, when it was replaced by the 1966 model.
From early days, Ford’s division chief Lee Iacocca still felt that the Mustang’s image needed a boost, so he contacted former racecar driver and nascent sports car manufacturer Carroll Shelby, famous for the iconic Ford powered AC Shelby Cobra and also involved in Ford’s GT40 racing car project. Shelby was asked to modify the Mustang in a way so it could win the Sports Car Club of America’s national B-Production Championship Series. And so, early in 1965, a new competition breed of Mustangs came into life; finished at the Shelby-American shop in Los Angeles and topped off with Shelby badges and trademarks like the Cobra’s own logo and named the Shelby GT-350, the designation that would go on all small-block Shelby Mustangs until 1970.
The first Shelby Mustang GT-350 appeared on January 27, 1965. It was based on the Ford Mustang fastback and was painted white with blue stripes, which was to remain the original color scheme for the 1965 and 1966 models. From the outside the GT-350 didn’t look very different from a regular Mustang, but underneath the body and under the hood, many changes were made. The GT-350 was fitted with Ford’s 289ci small-block V-8 engine in “Hi-Performance” trim. This unit produced 271hp as standard, but modified by Shelby it cranked out 306hp at 6000 rpm, which rendered the GT-350 a top speed of about 150mph, quite good for a 2600 pound car without serious big-block power. The elaborate Shelby modifications made the GT-350 a true racing car. The engine was fitted with a high-rise manifold, a bigger four-barrel carburetor and a free-flowing exhaust. A fiberglass hood featuring a functional air-scoop covered the engine which made it stand apart from regular less powerful Mustangs. To cope with the additional power the Mustang’s optional Borg-Warner T-10 4-speed gearbox was standard in the GT-350 and also the Falcon rear axle of the standard Mustang was replaced by the stronger rear axle of the full-size Ford Galaxie. Remarkably, this treatment was practically copied from the work Shelby and Ken Miles had previously done to create the Sunbeam Tiger. The GT-350’s suspension featured adjustable Koni shocks and Shelby-cast 15 inch alloy wheels with high-performance Goodyear tires were fitted.
Presented in outstanding restored condition to original specifications, this GT350, as acknowledged by the Shelby American Automobile Club Registry as one of just the very first group: “Date received at Shelby American in Venice12/23/64, date work started 2/8/65; date work finished 2/23/65, clearly recording the very early production of this very special Shelby. The small, original facility, where Carroll Shelby and his Shelby American Team developed and built Cobras and GT40’s, also housed the early GT350 program, originally designed only to produce enough cars for SCCA homologation compliance, a minimum of 100. Early prototypes, in both Race and Street Model form were built alongside their more prestigious stablemates, with a cadre of unique and special parts and evolutionary/developmental construction techniques, making the very early “Venice built GT350’s” the most highly coveted by Shelby collectors and aficionados.
Just a few of these unique elements include the larger 16-inch genuine wood steering wheel – essentially a Cobra item, complete with the later Cobra center piece. In addition, the early fiberglass gauge pod with correct, ORIGNAL instruments, along with a host of smaller detail items, such as the dash mounted horn button switch, early production only; rear mounted battery, all present and accounted for on SFM 5S047, are clear indicators of keen attention to detail and accouterments of the Venice built cars, known affectionately by enthusiast’s as “two digit cars”.
As one would expect from any collector “blue chip” vehicle of this caliber, the package of historical and related provenance documents is extensive. Authentic, original Shelby American Invoices detail early, factory authorized work, much of which was done under warranty. The later style hood, currently restored and still with SFM5S047, is detailed within this documentation and a significant part of its history. Furthermore, the complete complement of document copies, authentication and records from the Shelby American Club are present which include Factory Invoice, Ford VIN cross reference, and various relative correspondence on file.
Priced appropriately at: