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In January of 1965, the first batch of 1965 Shelby GT350 models was completed to comply with homologation requirements. One of these cars, a Wimbledon White Mustang with the Ford VlN 5RO9K165905, was assigned the Shelby VIN SFM5021 (Shelby American would not employ an ‘S’ to designate street models until car #35). This car, upon its completion, was not shipped to a Shelby dealer for retail sale; instead, it was consigned on February 3rd, 1965 to Shelby American General Manager Ray Geddes and shipped to the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI, where it was likely used as a public relations and demonstrator car by Ford. It was then returned to Shelby American and on August 10, 1965, it was invoiced to the Carroll Shelby School of High-Performance Driving. The car was then used as a school car and during this time it was gradually converted to competition specifications, documented by pictures in two magazine articles written about Shelby’s driving school; both the July 1966 issue of Popular Science and Car & Driver for April, 1967 show the car in action.
Back at Shelby during the end of June, 1965, work was begun on the last batch of 15 GT350 competition-only models. A work order was opened on June 25, 1965 which indicates that the Shelby VIN SFM 5R537 was to be assigned to the Mustang carrying the Ford VIN 5R09K217475. According to Shelby race shop mechanics, sometime around Christmas of 1965, this car was chosen to be the prototype for the 1967 big-block GT500. Sometime near the end of 1967, as Shelby American was losing its lease on its airport facility, this car was sold (less the 427ci engine and transmission) to one of the mechanics who had modified it into the prototype configuration. Shelby-American and California DMV documents for this transaction described the car only by its Ford VIN, 5R09K217475.
At about the same time in late 1967, both Hi-Performance Motors and the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving were being wrapped up. In that Shelby VIN SFM5021 had been converted to competition specifications while at Shelby’s driving school, someone within the Shelby organization made the decision to re-identify SFM5021 as SFM 5R537. The car was then sold as a competition model to Richard Rice, who proceeded to race the car in SCCA events in California. When the engine was blown the following year, Rice parked the car in a garage in Fresno, California where it sat until it was located by Don Hodges and Lance Coren in 1988.
On page 157 of the Shelby American World Registry, SFM 5R537 is listed as being ‘a beautifully-restored correct vehicle with only test miles since completion’. Strictly correct with a few more miles since that time, 5R537 remains as such on offer here. Restored to the livery it wore during its days at Shelby’s driving school, it still also wears the correct date stampings on the floor, doors and fenders from when the original Mustang left the factory at Dearborn in late 1964. These stampings confirm that unlike most Mustangs, this car truly retains all of its original sheetmetal. Historically, it is without peer; first a Ford promotional vehicle, then one of Shelby’s driving school cars, then a successful SCCA racer. Finally, since it carries the number of the last ‘R’ model GT-350 for 1965, this combined with its excellent preservation during its years in storage, bulletproof documentation and a top-tier sympathetic restoration make this nothing short of a blue-chip collectible Shelby Mustang.