Within the moments following the document sale of one among two ex-Steve McQueen and Bullitt movie vehicles, a weathered and battered Highland Inexperienced 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390, we puzzled if one other Mustang might ever match its final price of $3.74 million. We did not have to attend lengthy to search out out. Simply half a yr later, 1965 Shelby GT350R serial number 5R002—the primary of two Shelby Mustang group prototypes for the 34 subsequent manufacturing Shelby GT350Rs—has offered for $3.85 million, resetting the world-record Mustang gross sales worth. Any time bidding reaches the seven-figure vary for a Ford Mustang variant, it is a massive deal, however on this case, it was actually no shock.
When Ford launched its Mustang sports activities coupe in 1964, the horse automotive was heavy on fashion however mild on efficiency. Attempting to shrug off the Mustang’s “secretary’s automotive” picture, Ford went to Carroll Shelby, who was already stuffing the model’s 289- and 427-cubic-inch V-8s into British AC Ace roadsters to create the hot-selling, race-winning Shelby Cobras, and who later rotated Ford’s abysmal GT40 program.
Shelby set his ace race and development driver Ken Miles on the venture, together with engineer Chuck Cantwell, who Automobile magazine spoke with several years ago. “The article of the GT350 program was to beat the Corvettes in SCCA racing,” Cantwell instructed them. “So we needed to first get a automotive the SCCA would settle for as a sports activities automotive.” Or, as our sister publication HOT ROD as soon as stated, flip a “light little colt right into a roaring, snorting stallion.”
In Shelby’s Venice, California, store, Miles and Cantwell had a 350-hp, 289-cubic-inch Ford V-Eight constructed up whereas a laundry listing of modifications have been made to the Mustang fastback. Key to the automotive’s efficiency was eradicating weight and to that finish, the inside was stripped, light-weight steel panels have been riveted instead of the glass rear quarter home windows, and the aspect home windows have been changed with acrylic. A deep entrance air dam was made out of fiberglass to direct extra cooling air into the engine bay, whereas the wheel openings have been modified to suit 15×7-inch American Racing Torq Thrust wheels sporting competitors tires. A big-capacity 34-gallon gas tank was additionally added for endurance races, whereas competitors exhaust, suspension, and braking programs rounded out the most important adjustments. As the primary Shelby GT350R constructed, this explicit automotive is claimed to have particulars which might be distinctive to it, in addition to the historical past of tens of 1000’s of growth miles at Shelby.
Ultimately, Shelby GT350R chassis 5R002 was a 2,550-pound racer able to mid-5.0-second zero-to-60-mph occasions and 13.6-second quarter-miles. Jerry Titus, writing for Sports activities Automotive Graphic, can be the primary to check the automotive with Ken Miles. The take a look at so impressed Shelby and Miles that Titus would go on to pilot this very automotive and its irregularly numbered successor, 5R001, within the 1965 SCCA season, successful the B Manufacturing Drivers’ Championship. Nevertheless it was Ken Miles himself who gave 5R002 its first-ever win in Texas, and who was behind the wheel for the soar with all 4 Torq Thrust wheels off the bottom on the similar monitor. The leap gave the automotive its “Flying Mustang” nickname, later rolled right into a nifty Shelby commercial.
Titus ran 5R002 as soon as extra in early 1966 in Texas, the place Miles had been profitable a yr earlier, however ended up ending second behind Pedro Rodriguez, then already a Components 1 driver and profitable sports-car racer, in one other Shelby GT350R. From there, 5R002 was offered to a Ford Efficiency Division engineer primarily based in Dearborn, Michigan, who raced the automotive with an experimental Ford GT40 engine to good success. By 1970, the automotive would wind up racing in Mexico with a brand new proprietor, earlier than being resprayed in grey primer and left outdoors to rot in 1972. An American discovered the automotive in 1989 and introduced it again to the U.S., the place it was displayed in a museum and handed amongst a couple of homeowners earlier than winding up with John Atzbach, who restored the automotive in 2010 to its unique glory. Since then, the automotive has been displayed at occasions such because the Nationwide Shelby Conference, The Quail, and the Pebble Seaside Concours d’Class, together with getting used as a promotional automotive in numerous Ford advertising campaigns.
Previously, we have seen the marketplace for most manufacturing 1965 and 1966 Shelby GT350R fashions taper off shortly across the million-dollar mark. RM Sotheby’s offered a 1965 instance for $990,000 at its 2012 Monterey public sale, then did not promote one other at its 2018 Scottsdale occasion with an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,200,000. On this case, clearly the unique is GT350R continues to be the best.