Serial number SFM5R538 is confirmed as one of just 34 “production” G.T.350R models built by Shelby American in 1965 for racing, which then became the winningest Shelby of any kind on record. All images courtesy of Mecum Auctions.
There are Mustangs, and then there are Shelby Mustangs. But even within that rarified subset of Ford’s pony car, there are special examples that stand out among the herd, such as the car pictured above: A 1965 Shelby G.T.350R that is almost certainly the winningest Shelby of any type ever created. It’s one of many vehicles of special distinction going up for sale during this year’s Monterey Car Week – simply known as either Monterey among vintage vehicle enthusiasts, or Pebble Beach due to the renowned concours d’elegance that anchors the festivities. This particular car will be presented to bidders by Wisconsin-based Mecum Auctions at the company’s usual Monterey location, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Spa – Del Monte Golf Course.
Like most early Shelby-built Mustangs, this one is known by its serial number, SFM5R538. Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) documents confirmed that its legacy began as an order from Shelby American to Ford Motor Company in March 1965. The basic Mustang’s construction commenced at the San Jose assembly line the following month. Delivered first to the Shelby team, it was assigned Work Order No. 17535, which converted the early pony into a G.T.350R, a process that stretched nearly six months
The conversion to race-ready B/Production trim meant this G.T.350R was equipped with an independent front suspension, with adjustable coil springs and front disc brakes, as well as a live-axle rear suspension with leaf springs. Cooling for the all-important brake system was achieved in part by a special fiberglass front body apron and rear ductwork. A set of American Racing magnesium Torq Thrust wheels allowed for the use of pavement-gripping, wider-than-stock competition tires. Additionally, the incorporation of plexiglass windows aided both safety and weight. Power was derived from a Hi-Po 289-cu.in. V-8 engine fitted with a special 715-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor on a counter-accessory Cobra high-rise intake manifold. Completing the engine build were Tri-Y headers, an external oil cooler, and a high-capacity Ford radiator. Behind the engine sat a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission.