A genuine 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R is set to treat Ford and race fans in this year’s Taupo Historic Grand Prix at Bruce McLaren Park next weekend.
One of only 37 full-race spec Shelby cars ever built, this particular GT350R has been privately owned in New Zealand for 17 years. The Historic GP will mark the car’s debut race meeting in the North Island.
Originally factory built as a road-going GT350 in July 1965, the car was sold by Carroll Shelby’s dealership Hi-Performance Motors. The car was then converted to full GT350R specifications by Shelby and campaigned by its owner in the SCCA racing class.
Eager to show off his new competitor on the global racing stage, Shelby had the GT350R’s built hastily. The first model wasn’t even fully completed when Shelby made its race debut in Texas.
The GT350Rs boast an iconic reputation and image. Last year, a 1965 Ford Shelby GT350R raced by Ken Miles at Green Valley Raceway in Smithfield, Texas, back in 1965 made headlines for becoming the most expensive Mustang ever sold.
The hammer came down on a price tag of US $3.6 million, topping the previous record held by the original Bullitt Mustang.
Like all factory GT350Rs, this car features a host of Ken Miles’ modifications and development. It has race-spec engine upgrades, enhancements and blueprinting, extensive body modifications, race instrumentation and side-exit exhausts.
After retiring from its days of competition, the car featured as the hero car for the world-famous BF Goodrich tyre advertising campaign.
“This GT350R adds a unique perspective to the Taupō Historic GP meeting and the celebration of Ford’s motorsport heritage,” organising committee member Garry Jackson said.
“Whilst it never raced in New Zealand, it is the ultimate and genuinely original expression of the legendary Mustangs that have dominated New Zealand tracks since the late 1960s in the hands of Ivan Segedin, Paul Fahey, Rod Coppins, Red Dawson, Frank Bryan, Leo Leonard and so many more.
“It will be on public display throughout the Taupō race weekend. We’re all looking forward to seeing it on track with demo laps.”
The 2020 Historic Taupo GP runs over January 23-24, with race classes including Historic Muscle and Saloon Cars, Formula 5000, Formula Junior, TraNZams and Historic Sports Sedans.
Main Image: Alex Mitchell