|Vehicle:||1967 Shelby GT350 Competition Fastback|
This car sold for $126,250, including buyer’s premium, at the Bonhams Quail Lodge auction, held August 17, 2002.
Carroll Shelby’s involvement with Ford began in 1962 when he married a Ford 260 small block with an AC Ace, resulting in the now-legendary Shelby Cobra. The 260 was replaced with a 289 and was then followed by the groundpounding 427. S/C Cobras quickly became legendary, and their place in the hierarchy of value in the American car market firmly established. Shelby’s efforts did not go unnoticed by the powers at Ford, notably Lee Iacocca, and he was given all of Ford’s GT development work. Iacocca, who had fathered the Mustang, wanted Shelby to turn the Mustang into a Corvette killer, and Shelby now found himself building sports-racer pony cars.
The GT350 was introduced on January 27, 1965, and was far more race car than sports car. It had a Hi-Po 289 producing 306 horsepower, a fiberglass hood, deleted rear seats and other tricks that resulted in a 200-pound weight reduction from stock specs. Shelby American built 561 GT350s in 1965. In addition, nine were built specifically for drag racing and 36 GT350 R (racing) models were produced.
The 350 Rs were factory race-ready cars and were delivered from the San Jose plant completely stripped down, without carpet, side glass or gas tank. The Hi-Po 289 was balanced and blueprinted, turning out anywhere from 325 to 360 horsepower. The cars listed at $6,000 and won the 1965 B Production championship, besting Jaguar E-types and Chevy Corvettes.
The big block GT500 joined the GT350 in 1967 and was powered by a 355-horsepower 428 that was equipped with twin Holley four-barrels. The GT500 outsold its older but smaller sibling by almost 1,000 units, as 2,050 GT500s left dealer showrooms compared to 1,173 GT350s.
Shelby American built as many as three 427 GT500s, but that number has grown exponentially as anyone with the time and money could swap out the 428. In the era, cost made the conversion impractical but, with clones now costing more than $100,000, the practice continues.
Ford wanted to bring the Shelby Mustang in house and Carroll Shelby had lost his lease at the Los Angeles airport, so they went their separate ways after the 1967 model year.
In 1967, his last year of constructing true Shelby Mustangs, 26 racing GT350s were manufactured and, as noted, this is the only known example with four factory-installed Weber twin-choke carburetors. While the street versions of the Shelby cars were becoming more civilized, these racing versions, like those of earlier years, were delivered track-ready and were not for the timid or those with a light foot. They were driven hard and often to places from where they would not return. To find an example that is “real,” has a documented racing history and is not scarred by its campaigns is most unusual.
What is the market-correct price for an example such as this one sold by Bonhams? The price paid here was just the beginning-another $20,000 more wouldn’t be surprising, and another $40,000 would not have been shocking. The net result is a very good deal for the buyer. Let’s hope that we get to see this important car at speed next year at the Monterey Historics.-Carl Bomstead