A real piece of automotive history went under hammer over the weekend, and set a new record in the process.
A 1965 Ford Shelby GT350 Competition, Shelby American’s first Mustang built racing, was just sold at Mecum’s auction in Kissimmee, Florida. The final price paid, after adding the buyer’s commission, was $4,070,000, reinforcing this as the world’s most valuable Mustang.
This same car was sold at a Mecum auction in 2020, where it fetched $3.85 million. Both figures are impressive considering that the famous “Bullitt” Mustang driven on screen by Steve McQueen only sold for $3.4 million at a separate Mecum auction in 2020.
What makes this one so special? Bearing chassis number 5R002, this is the same car raced by Ken Miles at Green Valley Raceway in Smithfield, Texas, back in 1965. It represents the first time a GT350 Competition, more commonly known as the GT350R, was entered into a sanctioned race, in this case an SCCA event. And with Miles bringing home the victory, it was also the first time a Shelby Mustang won a race.
The event has been immortalized thanks to a photo capturing the car lifting off the ground at one point, with all four wheels in the air. This earned it the famous Flying Mustang nickname. Other noted drivers who spent time behind the wheel include Bob Bondurant, Chuck Cantwell, Peter Brock, Jerry Titus, and of course Carroll Shelby.
The car was one of two GT350R prototypes built for 1965, the other being chassis no. 5R001. It was the one presented to the FIA for homologation for the SCCA B Production class. It also happens to be the second of all GT350s built by Shelby.
Ken Miles in the 1965 Ford Shelby GT350 Competition with chassis no. 5R002 at Green Valley Raceway
Compared to the stock GT350, R models received new suspension tuning, a modified 289 cubic-inch Ford V-8, an improved cooling system, fiberglass body panels, and Plexiglass windows. The interior was also gutted for racing, and a full roll cage added to meet competition regulations. And as a prototype, chassis no. 5R002 was fitted with numerous parts that didn’t make it onto the 34 GT350R customer race cars Shelby built for 1965.
Shelby ended up selling the car for $4,000 in 1966 to Ford engineer Bill Clawson of Dearborn, Michigan, who continued to race it for another year. It then traded hands several more times, including to a customer in Mexico, who raced the car some more before it ultimately ended up in the Shelby American Museum in Boulder, Colorado.
It sat in the museum for 14 years until famous Shelby collector John Atzbach, the seller at the 2020 auction, acquired it in 2010 and had it restored to its original racing configuration as seen at Green Valley.
1965 Ford Shelby GT350 Competition with chassis no. 5R002
Other notable sales at the recent Mecum auction include a rare 1965 Shelby Cobra Factory Stage III 289 Dragonsnake and the influential 1951 Mercury of Bob Hirohata.