1965 Shelby GT 350
- Highly desirable early “double-digit” GT350
- Restored to original specifications by marque expert Tony Conover
- Stripe-delete example with steel wheels, like the original Shelby American PR photos
- Documented history; sold new in California
This exceptional GT350, chassis SFM 5S089, is a highly desirable, early example of a true automotive legend. Starting with Ford’s already exceptional “K-code” Mustang fastback, Carroll Shelby and his team at Shelby American loaded the GT350 with numerous suspension upgrades and improved safety equipment, and beefed up the engine, adding approximately 35 horsepower over the standard Ford “Hi-Po” 289 V-8. The result was a production class-racing powerhouse that easily met the challenge from other cars of the day, including the Sunbeam Tiger and Jaguar E-Type, as well as Ford’s arch nemesis, the Chevrolet Corvette.
Shelby American produced only 562 of these tough-and-ready GT350s in 1965, and they are considered the most desirable and collectable among all Shelby Mustangs—the purest interpretation of Carroll Shelby’s original vision. To this day, the GT350 remains an ever-popular choice for vintage racing and touring events around the world. Subsequent Shelby Mustangs became less racy and more about fast comfort, with smoother rides and larger engines, available with air-conditioning and automatic transmissions, as well as the addition of a convertible.
Shelby-Ford Mustang 5S089 is one of the earliest examples produced and is known as one of the “double-digit” serial-number cars. These GT350s were the first 100 produced (numbers 015–113) for homologation purposes to qualify for SCCA racing. Due to the car’s early production sequence, this example benefits from the trunk-mounted battery, which appears (approximately) on serial numbers 001–338. The battery relocation was found to be one of the more time-consuming modifications, and in the interest of saving time, it was left in the front of the car on later-production cars. In addition to the relocated battery, the early-production GT350s benefit from unique features, including their fiberglass hood design and construction.
This exceptional early-build ’65 GT350 is presented without the usual twin racing stripes, but sporting modest steel wheels, a look which represented the purest form of the original GT350s, as seen in period PR photographs. Significant is the original body shell that displays the Shelby American modifications performed in just the one year of 1965. Historical research, along with supporting documentation, reveals that 5S089 was completed at Shelby American in late March 1965 and then shipped to the Ford Shelby dealership (Hayward Ford Motors) in Hayward, California, where it was sold new to a local owner. This was an original California-built and -delivered car with California black plates from new.
Tony Conover was commissioned to perform a very comprehensive, historically correct restoration in the mid-2000s. This outstanding GT350 has had a careful few miles since restoration. It presents in beautiful condition throughout and remains overwhelmingly authentic, including correct Goodyear Blue Dot tires and a four-speed T-10 aluminum-case manual transmission. The confidential Ford identification number has been verified with the SAAC, with a letter on file from Shelby Mustang registrar Howard Pardee, and this number can also be found stamped on the engine block pad, suggesting that this GT350 retains its original engine.
The 1965 Shelby GT350 is certainly classed in the upper echelon of American collectable automobiles. The opportunity to acquire an early-production, highly documented, authentic “two-digit” example such as this is rare and worthy of serious consideration for any collector or enthusiast.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo19.