Today in Automotive History: The 1965 Shelby GT 350 is Announced
January 27, 1965 is remembered fondly by Ford and Shelby diehards alike, as it was the day Carroll Shelby introduced his first modified Mustang. The GT 350 and Mustang shared the optional 289 V8 rated at 271hp, but a Holley four-barrel and other additions bumped power figures to 306hp. This allowed the Shelby to run with the standard-issue Chevrolet Corvettes, good news since the Shelby was $350 more expensive than a base 327 ‘Vette. Shelby sold just north of 500 1965 GT 350s against more than 20,000 Corvette C2s during the same time.
The Mustangs were shipped bare from Ford to Shelby, where body panels were added and all painted white with blue rocker stripes. All engine modifications were applied, as well as a dual exhaust system, suspension upgrades, and an anti-sway bar. The first year, a four-speed manual transmission was the only way the Shelby put power down to the ground; a three-speed automatic would be available as an optional extra in 1966.
The car itself was pretty lightweight, tipping the scales at only 2,800 pounds (to put that into perspective: just a bit heavier than the Scion FR-S and 800lbs less than a 2013 Mustang GT). The good deal of horsepower and light weight meant the GT 350 could storm from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds, making it one second faster than the hi-po Mustang it was based on. In addition to the 516 street coupes, 36 GT 350Rs were produced, and the price of admission into that exclusive club is nearly twice what it costs to pick up a GT 350 in current markets.
The 350R was a very limited production turn-key race car, and as such, the interior is completely barebones. Upholstery, sound deadening material, and practically everything that could be called a “creature comfort” was jettisoned. The windows were tossed in favor of Plexiglas, and a roll cage was installed. Horsepower for the GT 350R was again bumped, and now made around 350.
With the 1966 model would also come an expanded options list, with an auto transmission, new colors, and an optional $670 Paxton supercharger that boosted the power output by more than 100.
The first two years of Shelby GT 350s are the most wanted by collectors, with well-maintained 1965s fetching between $150,000-250.000. The price is indicative of how beloved an icon Carroll Shelby is, and how he influenced the automotive world forever.