The ultimate Shelby, with serious factory modifications

 

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Race car driver, car builder, chicken farmer, chili chef, heart transplant survivor, children’s charity founder-Carroll Shelby is all of these, a living legend. And as Shelby’s legend has grown, so have the values of his cars.

The subject car, SFM5R535, is one of five competition Shelbys sold new to Peru, where Sr. Benito Lores of Lima was the original owner. The “R” in the fifth digit of the Shelby serial number denotes a race version; street cars carry an “S” in this position. (As with other early Shelbys, this car also carries a Ford serial number.)

The car was reportedly raced twice by the second owner, Pity Block, also in Peru. The third owner, Sr. Humberto Requena, of Piura, Peru, reportedly broke the block in a race in 1967. He is said to have kept the car for 10 years before an unidentified Peruvian resident became the fourth owner, and used 5R535 as a street car. In 1982, yet another Peruvian, Sr. Brazato Vichic, owned the car before it was sold in 1984 to two Americans, Richard Cohen and Gary Nufer, who restored the car. The 1997 edition of the Shelby American World Registry lists four additional owners after 5R535 returned to the US, including collector/dealer George Stauffer of Blue Mounds, Wisconsin.

Those looking for a miles-correct, no-stories, one-owner car need look no further.

SCM Analysis

Detailing

Vehicle:1965 Shelby GT350 R fastback

This example sold for $206,700, including buyer’s premium, at the RM auction in Boca Raton, Florida, held February 7-9, 2003.

Of the 36 “R”-series Shelbys built, two were prototypes and the rest were production models. The R-series were very special cars, with serious modifications that made them very different from the already formidable GT 350. “R” cars included the famous wide “Le Mans” stripes and a fiberglass front apron that replaced the bumper and upper and lower valance panel. The rear bumper was removed and Plexiglas side and rear windows were added. Aluminum panels replaced the original Ford door panels; aluminum was also pop-riveted in place of the rear quarter vents. Early cars’ stock front seats were pulled in favor of a one-piece fiberglass unit. Standard production seats were used on later cars, as it was understood that the purchaser would most likely choose a competition seat of their preference. The dash pad on the “R” cars was replaced with a bezel holding the speedometer, tachometer and other gauges. A four-point roll bar was installed and a fiberglass rear shelf replaced the rear seat. There were body modifications to both the front and rear fenders, and to the inner fenders, as well. The hood was the same one-piece fiberglass unit used on production Shelbys, but on the “R” cars, the only hood lock was the klik-pin hood pin arrangement. Similar pins were used on the trunk.

Under the hood, the motors were “breathed on,” with heads ported and polished to Shelby race specs. Motors were balanced and blueprinted, special headers were fitted, and a Holley 715 carb was installed. These modifications bumped output to 350 horsepower. Stock gas tanks were replaced with 34-gallon units and an electric fuel pump (two in some early cars) was fitted.

It should be noted that as each car was built, running changes were incorporated, so you shouldn’t expect each “R” car to be the same as the next. Some cars carried custom specifications: 5R535 was fitted at the factory with Weber carburetors, and 5R096 had the Le Mans stripes deleted.

Sold for $206,700, 5R535 is worth the money-even at a price that exceeds the experts’ views. Why? An “R” model is the ultimate Shelby. Not only was this the first year of production, but the modifications done to the first-generation Mustang body were visually far more dramatic than those of the ’68 and later Shelbys. The “R” cars are off-the-shelf racers: Just add a driver and they’re usable on the vintage circuit. (It should be noted, however, that to be competitive in today’s races will take an engine that uses modern technology to produce upwards of 450 horsepower.)

I recently watched the octogenarian Carroll Shelby sign autographs for those who made a donation to his children’s charity. While, as expected, he smiled at all the attractive women, he positively beamed when a child became the subject of his attention. It’s no wonder that he outlived his original heart-it just wasn’t big enough to keep up with all that he did, and continues to do. Carroll Shelby, and the cars he has created, defines the profile for an American original, a Davy Crockett for the modern age.-Dave Kinney

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