Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Ford Shelby Mustang 1965

1965_Ford_Shelby_Mustang_GT-350The first Shelby Mustang GT-350 appeared on January 27, 1965. It was based on the Ford Mustang fastback and was painted white with blue stripes, which was to remain the original color scheme for the 1965 and 1966 models. From the outside the GT-350 didn't look very different from a regular Mustang, but underneath the body many changes were made.
The GT-350 was fitted with Ford's 289 cid (4,738 cc) small-block V8 engine in "Hi-Performance" trim. This unit produced 271 hp as standard, but modified by Shelby it cranked out 306 hp @ 6000 rpm. It rendered the GT-350 a top speed of about 240 kph, quite good for a 1155 kg car.

1965_Ford_Shelby_Mustang_GT-350The elaborate Shelby modifications made the GT-350 a true racing car. The engine was fitted with a high-rise manifold, a bigger four-barrel carburetor and a free-flow exhaust. A fiberglass hood featuring a functional air-scoop covered the engine which made it stand apart from regular less powerful Mustangs.
To cope with the additional power the Mustang's optional Borg-Warner T-10 4-speed gearbox was standard in the GT-350 and also the Falcon rear axle of the standard Mustang was replaced by the stronger rear axle of the full-size Ford Galaxie. Remarkably this treatment was practically copied from the work Shelby had previously done to create the Sunbeam Tiger. The GT-350's suspension featured adjustable Koni shocks (adding a Dutch hint to an all-American car) and Shelby-cast 15 inch alloy wheels with high-performance Goodyear tires were fitted.

1965_Ford_Shelby_Mustang_GT-350Other special features were the lowered front suspension with relocated mounting points for fast-ratio steering, a steel bar connecting the front shock towers to improve rigidity and rear traction bars located above the rear axle. These modifications gave the Shelby Mustang a near-neutral handling as opposed to the regular Mustang's strong understeer.
To comply with the rules for two-seater sports cars the rear seat was removed and replaced by a fiberglass panel which held the spare tire. Also the battery was relocated to the trunk. Other interior modifications were the three-inch competition seatbelts, the special steering wheel with mahogany rim and a dash-mounted gauge pod with tachometer and oil pressure gauge.

The full racing version of the Shelby Mustang was the GT-350R, which had a 350 hp (some even 400 hp) engine, racing suspension and a fiberglass airdam with a large central hole for extra air in front which replaced the bumper. The GT-350R won the SCCA production car championship in 1965, 1966 and 1967, giving the Mustang the so desired competition car heritage. The 1965 championship was in fact snatched from the Sunbeam Tigers run by Doane Spencer's Hollywood Sports Car team, making it a complete Shelby show that season.
The 1965 Shelby Mustang is considered the most pure of all. Total production was only 562 cars: 550 GT-350 models and 12 GT-350R competition cars. A lot of these cars have survived, though not always in completely original condition. Particularly body-side scoops seem to be popular tough those were not standard for 1965 models.
(picture by Charlie Ruggles, used with permission)

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