1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 Fastback
Chassis no. SFM5S549
289ci, K-code, 306hp V8
Top-loader four-speed manual transmission
Purchased new by famed abstract painter Larry Poons
Exhaustive ownership history of Shelby enthusiasts
Restored by Shelby specialists Super Stang Shop
The Ford-powered 1963-1964 Shelby Cobra was a rousing success on street and track. Even as it made Carroll Shelby a global celebrity, the Cobra was also, by association building Ford's credibility in the emerging market for high-performance cars. It was perhaps inevitable that Shelby and Ford Motor Co. would become formal partners. All they needed was a mutually viable project. It was agreed that creating a Mustang capable of taking on the GM Corvette in sports car competition was a worthy goal...and very soon, development of just such a car was underway at Shelby's Los Angeles facility.
The production Shelby Mustang GT350, based on the production Mustang Fastback, was released in late January 1965. Just its appearance all but guaranteed it would be a sensation. But there was much more to the Shelby GT350 than looks. The suspension was heavily modified, with many all-out racing parts replacing factory units. Underhood was a Ford 289 Hi-Performance V-8; rated at 271-hp from the factory, it had been modified by Shelby engineers to produce 306 hp. A rugged 4-speed manual was standard. Exterior changes were simple, but effective. A no-frills grille insert was installed, with a Mustang badge at the left, and a subtle hood scoop was added to the hood. The car had the aggressive stance of a warrior; ready and able to do whatever it took to win.
For the 1965 model year, the GT350 was offered only in Ford Wimbledon White, with Guardsman Blue stripes as an option. The black interior featured a roll bar and competition seat belts, reminders that this was essentially an all-out racecar in street clothing.
Rugged and challenging to drive in normal traffic, the GT350 was at home on the track. It immediately gave the Mustang a huge image boost. In total, 562 GT350s, 12 of them GT350R competition cars, rolled off the line at Shelby's Los Angeles facility.
This GT350 emerged from said LA facility on Friday July 2nd, 1965just in time to make some fireworks of its own over the long, Independence Day weekendand was sold to nearby Hi-Performance Motors. One of the last '65 GT350s produced, it was started the day before the final car off the line and finished a week before the final cars left the factory, car 549 also likely shared the production line with the run of aforementioned GT350Rs that were in production a mere nine cars ahead. It was delivered new in Wimbledon White, sans stripes, but with an original set of optional cast-alloy Cragar 5-spoke rims.
549 has a rather interesting list of owners as well. Hi-Performance sold the car for $7,000 to New York-based abstract painting Larry Poons on August 8th of 1965 who drove the car across country to his studio. Mr. Poons career was just taking off in the 60s with his painting of dots and circles, often brightly colored, that were finding fancy with the art world and have maintained their place in the market to this day. 549 later ended up with Dave Mathews, who is currently the 1967 Shelby Registrar, followed by Shelby restoration specialist Curt Vogt, current president of Cobra Automotive Inc. From Curt the car went to Jim Inglese, who currently runs his eponymous Weber Carburetor company specializing in performance carbs for small Chevy V8s and 289-302 Ford V8s, and then eventually back to Mr Vogt who built a new K-engine and T-10 transmission for the car while having well-known pony car specialists at the Super Stang Shop in Lyone, New York complete a restoration on the rest of the car. In 1988, the car was acquired by Tom Shelton, owner of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based Shelton Ferrari, who gave 549 its first sojourn out of the Northeast since it was originally purchase. The next keeper was Ford hotrod enthusiast Jorge Zaragoza, who bought the car in 1991. The Oldenburg Family Collection purchased 549 in August 2008.
As one would imagine with such an exhaustive list of dyed-in-the-wool Shelby enthusiast owners, the car today presents in very nice condition, heaving with all the nuanced authentic details that are typically only seen on original, unrestored cars. Although the engine and transmission are not the pair with which the car left the factory, the mill and tranny under the fiberglass hood now are correct replacements. Showing only a smidge over 23,000 miles, a figure that is believed to be from new, there is little question this car has been well cared for over the last nearly 50 years. Well known owners and meticulous presentation, combined with the bright glow of desirability that comes with any 'Stang Shelby with which was involved, all add up to a fantastic piece that would be a welcome addition to any garage.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.