Launched in 1965, the Shelby G.T. 350R – the competition version of the Shelby G.T. 350 – went on to capture SCCA B Production Championships in 1965, 1966 and 1967. As good as it was, those building the original car – the Original Venice Crew (OVC), as they’ve come to call themselves – believed it could be better. Now, a limited production run of 1965 Shelby G.T. 350Rs, designed by the OVC with all the upgrades meant for the original car, stands poised to improve on the original.
The OVC, consisting of Peter Brock, Jim Marietta and Ted Sutton, reconvened in 2015 to build a pair of “new” Shelby G.T.350Rs, one incorporating an experimental independent rear suspension (IRS) originally designed for the 1965 car. The cars also received a new front valance designed to improve engine cooling, Plexiglas rear and quarter windows designed by Brock to improve aerodynamics and ventilation, and improved brake ducts. The project was intended to honor the 50th Anniversary of the G.T.350R’s first win, at Texas’s Green Valley Raceway on February 14, 1965, but afterward, those involved with the project continued to refine and develop the tribute cars.
As Sutton explains, “During track testing, people began to ask if the car was for sale. After a landslide of inquiries we decided to see if there was a good case for offering a limited run of them.” The answer was yes, and Marietta stepped in to head up the new venture.
One of the first steps required to put the car into production was obtaining permission, via licensing agreements, from both Carroll Shelby International and the Ford Motor Company. These in place, the 36 G.T. 350Rs to be produced by OVC (matching the original production run of G.T. 350R models) will be badged in the same way as the originals and will be given a Shelby serial number. Papers on each car sold will be sent to both the Shelby American Automobile Club Registry and the Shelby American Registry.
Beginning with a reconditioned donor 1965 Ford Mustang fastback chassis, each Wimbledon White OVC Shelby G.T. 350R will receive a competition-prepared, iron-block V-8 from the Carrol Shelby Engine Company, mated to a period-correct four-speed manual transmission. Marietta tells us that the goal is to source original K-code body shells, but if this proves impossible, other production fastback variants will be used. As for engines, the standard issues will be a 289, but since each car is bespoke, buyers opting for horsepower over authenticity will have that option. The improvements from the 2015 OVC car (front valance, Plexiglas rear and quarter windows, brake ducts and IRS) will be incorporated into the continuation cars, producing what Marietta describes as the ultimate G.T. 350R.
Production of the 36 cars, which will be road-legal, begins this fall, and each will carry a base price of $250,000 before any extras are added. That’s not an insubstantial sum, but where else, at any price, can one buy a new 1965 Shelby G.T. 350R, designed by the original project team and incorporating features the original car was meant to have, had development time and money not run out? The new version is a race-proven, too; in 2016, Shelby American test driver Vince LaViolette qualified one of the prototypes third on the grid in a vintage race at the Hallet Motor Racing Circuit in Oklahoma, driving the Shelby to a win in the event.
Once the OVC Shelby production kicks off, the company has plans to offer the valance, Plexiglass windows, brake ducts and IRS to vintage Mustang owners, either installed or as stand alone parts. For more on the OVC continuation Shelby G.T. 350 Mustangs, visit OVCMustangs.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.