To take the Mustang racing, Ford contacted Shelby to get the car in SCCA-sanctioned events. He had not only had the leverage to get the car homologated, but also turn it into a successful contender against the Chevrolet Corvette. To meet the SCCA’s B production requirements, at least 100 road-going examples had to made and as a result Shelby became one of the largest names in Mustang history. Race versions of the GT350 competed around America in the SCCA’s B production competition and demand for the road-going version far exceeded initial plans.
Lee Iacocca at Ford green lighted the entire project which was initially known as the Cobra Mustang and was a complete performance package. Chuck Cantwell was put in charge of engineering and worked with Ken Miles and Pete Brock to develop the GT350 package. By January 1st, 1965 Shelby had over 100 fastbacks from Ford’s San Jose plant, delivered without hoods or rear seats and pre-fitted with a strut tower brace. This was good enough for the SCCA to successfully homologate the car into the B production class.1
To begin with his conversion, Cantwell and his team took the best that Ford had to offer from their competition parts supply and further refined the car. For the GT350, the K-Code 289 in³ V8 which offered 306 horsepower was kept as standard with a 715 Holley carburetor. The team opted to modify the suspension with, lowered front A-arms, Koni adjustable shock absorbers, larger front sway bars and a Detroit Locking rear end with traction bar brackets. The braking system also upgraded with larger Fairlane units. Other main features included a top-loader, 4-speed manual transmission and a heady-duty suspension all around.
Exterior modifications included a new fibreglass hood with a scoop and front pins. Down the sill of the car ran the GT350 graphic which was also used on the race cars. To finish off the race-inspired theme, the exhaust system was routed to the side of the car with Glasspak mufflers.
Inside, the GT350 had a removed rear seat and an extra center-mounted binnacle with oil pressure and tachometer gauges. Pete Brock designed a new Cobra center cap for the wood steering wheel and aircraft seatbelts were fitted.
List price for the GT350 was $4,584 USD which was $1,100 over the price of a standard 289 fastback.1 Just over 500 production cars were built in the all-American color of Wimbledon White with optional wide Guardsman Blue stripes. Shelby also had an extensive racing parts catalog for further upgrades. The model was officially known as the Shelby American Mustang G.T. 350 and was primary competition for the Chevelle 327 L79 and Pontiac GTO Tri-power. The car was advertised as a “Mustang, competition-modified by Carroll Shelby.”
Sources & Further Reading.
1.Mark Hovander. ‘History of the First 1965 GT350; 5S003’ 1965GT350MUSTANG.COM.