Did you know a 1965 Shelby GT350 was first overall in the 1965 Mexican 24 Hour Road Rally? At least it was for the first 14 hours, until it was sidelined by a fire in its trunk.

I learned this at the 68th Annual Portland Roadster Show. It’s billed as the largest volunteer only indoor car show on the West Coast and put on by the Multnomah Hot Hod Council. Several hundred hot rods, customs, SUVs, ORVs and motorcycles were on display.

I’ve never had a strong affection for American customs. My primary interest has always been sports cars and driving them in a spirited fashion. There’s no Mille Miglia or Targa Floria for Lincoln Zephyrs.

Nonetheless, I go every year, if for no other reason than to admire the craftsmanship of the top cars. The fit and finish of the very best on display here rivals that of concours events.

Every year, I see something new. Which brings us back to the Shelby. Serial number 5S243, according to the signage, was driven by Bob McKay and Paul Markel. The car was being shown with all the lettering recreated from when it raced. Reportedly the GT350’s exploits were covered in Sports Car Graphic magazine.

At first I thought this was referring to La Carrera Panamericana, but the original only ran from 1950 to 1954. And when I Googled the car’s serial number, I didn’t come up with anything. Shelbys are well-documented, so I was surprised by this.

It didn’t spoil my afternoon. I spent another couple of hours admiring all of the wheeled (and tracked) vehicles on display. I look forward to going back next year. I’m sure the free samples of CBD being handed out added a special shine to all the finishes.

If any of you can shed some light on the 1965 Mexican 24 Hour Road Rally or Shelby 5S243, I look forward to reading your responses.   

5 Comments

  1. Craig Yirush

    Someone must have access to that issue of SCG (wonderful mag).

  2. Gary H Bartman

    I am the owner and yes, I have access to both SCG October 1965 and Road Test Magazine May 1966 where the original owner Bob McKay chronicled his experience preparing the Shelby and running the rally. All aspects of the car have been faithfully restored to the details shown and described in the magazines. Sadly, both Bob McKay and Paul Martel have passed. We learned about the rally history after having owned 5S243 for nearly 15 years. I tried to sell it twice and no one wanted it because it was quite beat up and ugly. It was a nice surprise when we discovered its history.

  3. Jim Wilson

    Keith, they did race Lincolns in the La Carrera Panamericana!

  4. J. Parrish

    Keith,

    Once again, I am living through you. I can tell you that growing up in So Arizona, that customs was almost all we were exposed to. Every once in awhile a solider would return back from Germany with something different. However, after living in LA and owning my first M3, I realized that I was missing something. I still have customs in the garage mainly because I want to be different than everyone else when I do shows or cars and coffee. As I was reminded this past saturday when a new Z06 showed up and the guy went on sharing that it was the only one delivered and that he paid (I think 20k) over sticker for it. My friend tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out 2 others in the 20 spots in our direct view.
    But regardless of customs, classics or new exotics the things that I love most is the passion, the stories and the beauty of them all.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Jay

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