1965 Shelby GT350 R Heads for Pebble


One of Carroll Shelby's earliest and finest racing machines up for auction by RM in Monterey.

Pebble Beach is always a highlight of the summer, not just for the cars on display, but also for the classic automobiles going up for auction. RM has been gearing up for its Monterey auction with some tastey morsels of motor vehicles - including vintage Ferraris, Aston Martins, Porsches and much, much more - but muscle car fans will take note of this vehicle more than any other. This 1965 Shelby GT350 R is one of only 34 of its kind, built by the recently-departed and much-admired American racing legend Carroll Shelby.

The man and his legacy need no introduction, but this particular GT350 warrants a brief history lesson. Despite their limited build number, R-models were the "heart and soul" of Shelby Mustang heritage as they were known to give Corvettes a tough time on any stretch of track. Their intended production purpose was to dominate the SCCA B/Production racing series from the get-go. The story goes that Shelby was asked by Ford to turn its newly-launched and wildly popular Mustang into a proper race car, and so and the GT350 was soon born. The R model was its racing cousin.

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All of the production cars and R-models received the same suspension modifications and white paintjob with blue stripes and black interiors. The 289 cu in V8 engines were mated to four-speed manual transmissions and unnecessary features like the rear seats and radio were removed altogether. In other words, all the original GT350s were a bit special, but there were an additional 15 cars that were even more so. Delivered to Shelby's garage without side or rear windows, heaters, defrosters, upholstery, headliners, insulation, or sound deadening, these became the first competition R-models.

They differed from the "standard" GT350 by their Holley four-barrel carburetor on Cobra high-rise aluminum intake manifold, flared fenders packing American Racing 15x7 five-spoke wheels and Plexiglass side windows with aluminum frames. The latter managed to help save some 25 pounds over the stock glass. A Plexiglass rear window was also installed. The completed GT350 Rs were sold through select Ford dealers and came ready to hit the track right away. This particular example has had a full restoration job, but it still has its original engine rated at 325 horsepower and most of its original components.

Its first owner raced it before putting it into storage for 21 years. It's had only four owners since then and just 4,900 miles on the odometer. RM projects it will sell for between $900k and $1.3 million, so you may never get a chance to see it up close, but these photos by Darin Schnabel for RM Auctions (and the video below) give you a pretty good look at this rare beast.

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