WHAT is an early Ford Mustang worth these days?
Well, it depends on its history.
But a few days ago a rather special one went on auction at Mecum’s Original Spring Classic auction in Indianapolis, Indiana — and fetched more money than anyone could have imagined.
It was the famous 1965 Ford Shelby GT350 Competition raced by Ken Miles at Green Valley Raceway in Smithfield, Texas, back in 1965.
The final sale price came in at US $3.85 million — a riveting $5.477 million in Australian money.
That’s the highest known price paid for a Mustang, easily beating the $3.4 million (a trifling $4.83m Oz) bid on the original Bullitt movie Mustang at a Mecum auction in January.
What makes this one, chassis number 5R002, so special requires a trip down memory lane.
It was Valentines Day, February 14, in 1965, and it was the first time a GT350 Competition, more commonly known as the GT350R, was entered into a SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) event.
Miles was the driver, and he won the race, proving the capability of the GT350R in the process.
He also got the car airborne at one point, with that image forever etched in Mustang history.
The stunt earned the car its famous Flying Mustang nickname.
Other noted drivers who spent time behind the wheel include Bob Bondurant, Chuck Cantwell, Peter Brock (the US one), Jerry Titus, and of course the man himself, Carroll Shelby.
Chassis #5R002 was the first GT350R built by Shelby and the one presented to the FIA for homologation for the SCCA B Production class.
It was the second of all GT350s built by Shelby.
Compared to the stock GT350, R models got revised suspension tuning, a modified 289 cubic-inch Ford V-8, an improved cooling system, fibreglass body panels, and Plexiglass windows.
The interior was also gutted for racing, and a full roll cage added to meet competition regulations.
And as a prototype, it was fitted with numerous parts that didn’t make it onto the 34 GT350R customer cars Shelby built for 1965.
Shelby ended up selling the car for $4000 (about AU$5700) in 1966 to Ford engineer Bill Clawson of Dearborn, Michigan, who continued to race it for another year.
It then traded hands several more times, including to a customer in Mexico who raced the car some more before it ultimately ended up in the Shelby American Museum in Boulder, Colorado.
It sat in the museum for 14 years until famous Shelby collector John Atzbach, the seller at Mecum’s auction, acquired it in 2010 and had it restored to its original racing configuration as seen at Green Valley.
Some of the people who worked on this very car back in the 1960s are now building 1965 Shelby GT350 ‘continuation’ cars and three of these will be special Ken Miles versions built to similar spec as #5R002.
No word on who bought the car at the auction.
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