What is it about the venerable Ford Mustang?

In the last two years we’ve seen two record breaking sale prices and it looks like a third one is on the way at Mecum’s Spring Classic in May.

Headlining the sale is the very first 1965 Shelby GT350R Competition Model built, known as the “Flying Mustang” which is part of the stunning John Atzbach collection.

Atzbach’s GT350R is the very car piloted by the legendary Ken Miles at Green Valley Raceway on Feb. 14, 1965.

He gets more than a mention in the recent Ford v Ferrari movie.

Green Valley marked the first time any Shelby Mustang was entered in a sanctioned competitive event.

Amazingly, Miles took the car to a dominating first-place finish and, en route to the win, was captured in one of motorsports’ most memorable photos.

It shows Miles and the Mustang completely airborne, with all four wheels clear of the ground.

The first competition Shelby Mustang, the first to be raced, and the first to win, 5R002 served as Shelby American’s factory engineering mule.

It was a rolling test bed for ideas and components, including those that would constitute both the second team car (5R001) and all 34 customer R-models.

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Ken Miles, Bob Bondurant, Chuck Cantwell, Jerry Titus and Peter Brock (though not our own Peter Perfect) drove this car extensively in testing and development.

In fact, Titus would not have earned the 1965 B-Production SCCA National Championship title had it not been for his early victories throughout the year in 5R002.

Indeed, after 5R002 entered and won that first historic race, it paved the way for the rest of Carroll Shelby’s GT350s to dominate their class across both North America and Europe, giving rise to the Shelby name and motoring legacy while drastically altering the public perception of the Mustang forever.

Mecum’s says the 5R002 is an automobile so historically significant that accurately and completely summarising its eminence is difficult.

To simplify, 5R002 is The Ken Miles R-Model.

Few, if any, cars are so intertwined with the legendary and essentially mythical figure that is Ken Miles.

Today, Miles is revered as one of the greatest figures in racing that the world has ever known, one who tragically died at the height of his career.

5R002 stands today as one of the most significant and historic competition cars ever constructed by Shelby American Inc.

The car represents a legendary convergence of a chicken farmer from Texas, a gang of Southern California Hot Rodders ready to take the fight to the Corvette, a driver the likes of which we may never see again and a “secretary’s car” that thought it could fly.

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Atzbach is well-known in collector circles and recognised as an authority on all things Shelby.

His memorabilia collection is, without a doubt, the most extensive and encompassing assemblage of Shelby artefacts known to exist.

The cars offered represent an array of the most historic and significant Shelby Mustangs available anywhere on the market in many years, possibly ever.

A total of 12 vehicles are slated to cross the block as part of the Atzbach Indy 2020 auction offering.

The group encompasses nine other incredibly rare Shelby Mustangs, including the only production factory supercharged 1965 GT350, the first production 1966 GT350, a factory supercharged 1966 GT350, the first 1966 GT350 convertible and the final 1970 Shelby GT350.

Outside of the Shelby Mustangs, the collection is rounded off by a superb example of an independent competition 289 Cobra and two Lamborghinis.

His Road Art collection comprises approximately 15,000 items ranging from rare Shelby artefacts to original and authentic vintage automotive signs and collectables.

In 2019 the 1967 Shelby Super Snake sold for a cool $2.2 million US dollars, followed by the $3.74 million sale of the Bullitt Mustang, also at Mecum Kissimmee 2020.

The question remains: just how high can Atzbach’s Ken Miles race special go?

 

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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