John Hollansworth Jr., courtesy of Mecum Auctions

Rarely are automobiles as sought-after and seemingly immune to market fluctuations as Carroll Shelby’s GT350, and the first-year editions are consistently the most valuable of that breed.

The Shelby American Automobile Club’s World Registry keeps detailed records of each Shelby-modified Mustang made; the 1965 GT350 presented here is a solid, documented example treated to a high-quality restoration several years ago. It remains in excellent, well-preserved condition.

S/N SFM5S260, the car was originally shipped to Koons Ford in Falls Church, VA, in June 1965 and sold to Dr. John Clift of Vienna, VA; it has a well-established ownership record that is documented in the Shelby Registry. Carroll Shelby signed the glovebox, a very nice personal touch for one of his creations. Finished in Wimbledon White with Blue Le Mans stripes and correctly styled Shelby Cragar wheels (including the spare), it is an easily appreciated example that will be right at home in any collection of significant performance cars or any show venue.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1965 Shelby GT350
Years Produced:1965
Number Produced:562 (all variants)
Original List Price:$4,547
SCM Valuation:$300,000–$390,000
Tune Up Cost:$500
Distributor Caps:$10
Chassis Number Location:Left side of front fender unibody structure above wheelwell (pop-riveted tag over the stamped Ford-issued VIN)
Engine Number Location:Ford VIN stamped onto pad on block at passenger’s side front corner
Club Info:Shelby American Auto Club (SAAC)
Alternatives:1966 Shelby GT350, 1963–63 Shelby Cobra 289, 1967–69 Chevrolet Camaro Yenko S/C
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot S156, sold for $286,200, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s Monterey sale held in Monterey, CA, on August 14–16, 2014.

Tuning up the Mustang

With the popularity of the Mustang, introduced in the summer of 1964, Ford knew it had a winner in the stable. The car built using parts grabbed from the Ford Falcon bins went on to become one of the fastest-selling cars in America, selling over 680,000 units by the end of the 1965 production run. It was a sales success for sure — not only because the car was well received by the public, but also because it was fueled by a massive advertising and public-relations blitz by Ford.

Ford knew that adding a hot high-performance model, or at least the appearance of one, to the Mustang line would be good for business. Ultimately, Ford tapped Carroll Shelby for that job, not only because he was a master salesman, but also because he knew how to get things done quickly and make cars go fast. Even better, it didn’t hurt that his Cobra and Ford’s GT40 were already tied to the Ford/Shelby brand and winning races all over the world.

Shelby knew that the best place to hang your hat for a performance image was to quickly attach the car to the SCCA. It was there that Shelby and John Bishop, Executive Director of the SCCA, laid out a plan for the new Mustang performance car to be eligible for B-Production racing. The directive would be to transform the car, according to the rules, to a race-spec example. Then, Ford and team Shelby would need to homologate them by producing 100 examples.

From pony to thoroughbred

Shelby turned to the team of Ken Miles, Bob Bondurant and Klaus Arning to dial in the suspension on the GT350. The original design work was accomplished on two notchback prototype model Mustangs, but the basic dynamics of the build didn’t change once the more rakish fastback model was in play. After the cars were turned over to Shelby, Pete Brock continued to tweak the visual aspects of the GT350, which ultimately led to the final version. At the end of the 1965 model run, 521 street cars had been built along with 36 R models.

Interestingly, the name of the GT350 comes from a typically Shelby-like “old farmer” simplification. The number 350 was an estimate of the distance between Shelby American’s office and its shop. Additionally, as the story goes, Shelby thought the meeting about the name of the new performance Mustang was taking too long. Shelby responded, “If it was a good car, the name wouldn’t matter; if it was a poor one, the name wouldn’t save it.”

Chassis number 260

GT350s rarely slide under the radar. Checking up on this one reveals a colorful past.

According to several sources close to the car and the Shelby Registry, chassis number 260 is sporting an older restoration that was accomplished by a well-known Shelby aficionado in the 1980s. Beyond that, the car was reported to have been damaged at one point, which required some repairs to the chassis. It also had some rust issues, which were repaired with new quarter panels and a reported new trunk pan. Our subject car also carries more than its share of reproduction parts required to round out its presentation.

The engine is said to be a correct mill, but it’s not original to the car. The transmission was also reported to be incorrect for the car, but that’s likely not a game-changer given the car’s overall configuration.

All that said, chassis 260 is also said to be dialed in mechanically and ready for tours, road rallys or some enjoyable winding country roads. In essence, it’s a good driver-quality car that might not be as pure as other GT350s in the market.

Shifting it down

This car showed up at auction a few times in the past, starting as a no-sale at Auctions America’s Fall Auburn sale in 2012, with a high bid of $180,000. Afterward, it was then reported to have been “sorted out further” by a respected Shelby expert and found its way to Auctions America a second time, this time at its premier Fort Lauderdale sale in 2014, selling there for a tidy $217,000 including the buyer’s premium. Ultimately, chassis 260 then sold at the aforementioned Mecum Monterey venue, finding a healthy $286,200.

By the books, a 1965 GT350 is perhaps the most desirable of the Shelby Mustang series other than the 36 1965 R models, which are infinitely rare and fetch a substantial premium over the street versions. The cars changed slightly and production ramped up for ’66, with 1,368 street editions produced and an additional 999 Hertz models in play. Discontinued for 1966 were things like side-exit exhaust, traction bars, and a trunk-mounted battery — to purists, these items are part of what makes the ’65 package so desirable.

A market price?

The ACC Pocket Price Guide places the value of a well-represented #2 condition GT350 in the $300,000 to $390,000 range. Keep in mind that the value range represents a well-sorted and likely documented very nice #2 example. Given the research and discussions about chassis 260, I don’t think it would fit into that category. All Shelbys may have been created equal, but they certainly don’t remain so today — and the best examples in the market will carry a premium over those with more stories, especially stories with an uncomfortable ending.

Chassis 260 isn’t a bad Shelby by any means. It’s just not as desirable as a more minty one with more OEM parts might be in the market. This is a GT350 you could actually drive and enjoy rather just use as some sort of pristine garage furniture.

All things considered, and given what we know about the car and what other similar cars have changed hands for recently, I’d say this one was well sold.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.

Comments are closed.