Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Car Of The Day: April 26, 2011
Today's car of the day comes from Firehawk73's collection and is Shelby Collectibles' 1965 Shelby GT-350.
The Shelby Mustang is a high performance variant of the Ford Mustang which was built by Shelby American from 1965 through 1970. Following the introduction of the fifth generation Ford Mustang, the Shelby nameplate was revived in 2007 for new high performance versions of the Mustang.
For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Shelby GT-350
Shelby Collectibles are among the nicest brands currently available. Opening hoods and doors always get bonus points from me. And being that they deal almost exclusively in Shelby vehicles is always a bonus for a Mustang lover such as myself. Every time I think they've reached the end of the available cars to produce they surprise me with a new casting, or (as happened tonight) I stumble across one while searching for info. I knew there were six (four per the Wikipedia article) convertibles produced, but Shelby has yet to offer a replica of those. The new one though is the Shelby Europa, a car available only in Europe in 1971-72, and yes, based on the '71 restyle. Considering Shelby and Ford had parted ways in 1969, that was a rather surprising development. And would make a fantastic replica, also!
The 1965-1966 cars were the smallest and lightest of the GT 350 models. These cars are often improperly called "Cobras", which was the Ford-powered AC-based two-seat sports car also produced by Shelby American during the same period. The confusion arises from the use of the Cobra emblem, the paint scheme, and optional "Cobra" valve covers on many GT350s (part of a marketing tie-in by Shelby as well as one of his iconic symbols). All 1965-66 cars featured the K-Code 271 hp 289, modified to produce 306 hp. 1965-1966 G.T. 350s were delivered from Ford's San Jose assembly plant in body in white form for modification by Carroll Shelby's operation, originally in Venice Beach and later at Los Angeles International Airport. San Jose Cars carried a "R" in the ford VIN denoting that facility. The only year that Shelby Mustangs from the 1960s came from another plant was 1968 where they came from New Jersey "T" in the VIN, and were modified by A.O. Smith.
All 1965 G.T. 350s were painted Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue rocker stripes. Contrary to popular belief, very few GT350s were delivered with the optional "Le Mans" (or "LeMans") top stripes, which run the length of the entire car. According the current Shelby American registry, approximately 28% of the 1965 cars built had LeMans stripes. Today, it's difficult to find a GT 350 not so equipped. Many 1965 cars had the battery relocated to the trunk (which was changed mid year from complaints of fumes), featured over-rider traction bars, relocated A-arms, and other modifications. Over-rider traction bars are named so due to their design being on top of the leaf spring as opposed to underneath them.
For 1966, the GT 350 lost its Mustang tag and was marketed simply as the Shelby GT 350. 1966 also saw the introduction of non-white colors—including blue, red, green and black. Other changes include special rear quarter-panel windows replacing the factory extractor vents, functional brake scoops on each side and optional automatic transmissions, as well as the addition of an optional Paxton supercharger. The battery was no longer relocated to the trunk for 1966, and the over-rider traction bars were discontinued. A fold-down rear seat was now optional. Where early 1965 cars had black engine blocks, 1966 and later cars had the 289 ci engine painted Ford dark blue. The first 252 GT 350s for 1966 began as 1965 Mustang K-Code Fastbacks. Often these first 252 1966 G.T.350s are referred to as "carry-over" cars, but this is not the case. These 252 1965 Model Mustangs were specifically ordered by Shelby American for conversion into 1966 GT 350s. They were definitely "left over" from the 1965 production. Upon delivery to the tarmac outside Shelby-American, random cars were pulled for conversion. This is the reason why Shelby VINs do not correspond in numerical order with Ford VINs. The Ford VINs were shipped in 'blocks' but many differ significantly with the order they were taken into the building. Only SAAC knows for sure, but there have been reports that some carry-over VINs have an earlier number than the last '65 Shelby VINs. They had the 1965 Ford Mustang Bodies and 1965 Ford Mustang serial numbers under their Shelby serial numbers. They mostly had 1965 features including standard Koni shock absorbers and engines painted black. Blue engines did not appear in 1966 until after these first 252 GT 350s were produced. 1966 production was 1373 fastbacks, including two prototypes and four drag cars, and 252 early production models with Ford Mustang 1965 bodies. 1003 Hertz fastbacks were produced, including two prototypes. Four convertibles were also produced, for a total of 2378 units for 1966. A small number (recent estimates identify it as only 11) of 1966s were fitted from the factory with Paxton superchargers, but not the No-Spin limited slip differential; with an option price of US$670, the engine was rated at 440 hp (330 kW).
Shelby struck a deal with the Hertz Corporation to produce a special line of G.T. 350s for rent which were subsequently sold to the public after their rental-car lives were finished. These "GT 350-H" cars are sought-after today, with some examples selling for more than $200,000. Shelby produced 1003 of these cars. Most Hertz cars featured gold LeMans stripes and rocker panel stripes. Some were white with blue stripes. Early Hertz cars were available with four-speed manual transmissions until so many cars were returned from rental with burned and broken clutch assemblies that all of the later cars shipped to Hertz were equipped with an automatic transmission. Many were rented to use as production class cars at SCCA events, returned with different engines, holes where roll bars had been welded in, etc. This earned them famous nickname "Rent-A-Racer".
1965-66 GT 350s were very successful racers, and had many production-class victories.
1966 production numbers: GT 350 — 2,378 units (four were special order convertibles for Carroll Shelby, the rumor is that six were made, but only four correct VINs have been discovered).
Even though production of Shelby GTs had ceased, a small numbers of 1971 and 1972 models were produced on the request of Belgian Shelby dealer Claude Dubois. Shelby agreed to build 14 1971/1972 Mustang based models which were marketed as the "Shelby Europa" and sold only in Europe.