Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  72 / 134 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 72 / 134 Next Page
Page Background

lways on the alert for anything

Shelby-related, and especially

vigilant for anything R-Model, we

came across a Ford press release dated

April 28, 2015 announcing that they

would be producing a limited run of

100 2015 Shelby GT350s to commem-

orate the GT350’s 50th anniversary.

They would also be releasing 37 spe-

cial GT350R models to pay homage to

the original 1965 Shelby factory com-

petition version of the GT350. The R-

Models were promised to be ultra-high

performance cars without rear seats,

air conditioning and other amenities.

They would be 130 lbs. lighter than a

comparable Mustang and were likely

be the quickest and most responsive

Mustangs Ford has ever built.

Once the initial wave of euphoria

subsided, we were left staring at the

number “37.” SAAC’s newest registry,

printed in 2011, pinned the number of

R-Models at 36. We recalled that we

had counted the number of R-Models

in SAAC’s 1987 Registry (28 years

ago) as 37. We immediately called the

1965-1966 GT350 Registrar, Howard

Pardee, to see if he remembered it the

same as we did. After all, he is the

Grand Master where these cars are

concerned. Pardee recalled that the 37

number was based on factory docu-

ments we had discovered in Shelby

American’s attic between 1985 and

that book’s publication date of 1987.

Work orders, shipping invoices and

sales invoices for the competition ver-

sions showed that two prototypes were

built initially (5R001 and 5R002), fol-

lowed by three batches of cars from

the San Jose assembly plant: 15 units,

5 units, and 15 units. The math was

pretty straight-forward: 2 + 15 + 5 +

15 = 37.

However, between the 1987 Reg-

istry and the 1997 edition, more fac-

tory documents were found including

the “Holy Grail” of 1965 GT350 pro-

duction, a hand-written ledger con-

taining every Shelby serial number

and the correlating Ford VINs (along

with the dates they started and fin-

ished production) for every car. We

used this list to verify which cars were

built into R-Models (there had previ-

ously not been any questions, but hav-

ing the Ford VINs provided absolute,

irrefutable proof).

We began to attach Ford numbers

to the cars in these three batches:

5R094 - 5R108, 5R209 - 5R213 and

5R537 - 5R540 and pretty quickly we

discovered that we were one car short.

The numbers no longer added up to

37: 2 + 15 + 5 + 14 = 36. After double-

and triple-checking both the Shelby

and Ford numbers to the point of

being bleary-eyed, we were at a loss to

explain the missing car.

The problem was in the final batch

of R-Models. There were fifteen Ford

VINs but only fourteen Shelby num-

bers. We poured over the ledger and

found the discrepancy. Keep in mind

that the Mustangs ordered by Shelby

American were built as “knock-

downs” – the term used at the assem-

bly plant for a car that had some parts

purposely left off during production.

We all know that Shelbys left San Jose

without hoods, rear seats and exhaust

systems. Additionally, cars earmarked

to be competition models had no sound

deadener, upholstery, carpeting, side

and rear windows or side vents. Once

these cars were delivered to Shelby

American, they were parked outside

the race shop in a long row, and were

not brought inside to be completed as

a finished R-Model until an order was


It is also important to look at the

timeline. The last batch of yet-to-be-

finished R-Models was shipped to

Shelby American in late May 1965.

The second batch were being com-

pleted through the next few months,

but sales had slowed noticeably. Work

on some of the cars in the third batch

didn’t begin until October and Novem-

ber, and by this time the last cars from

the second batch were completed.

Aside from a pair of third batch

cars completed prior to the first of

1966, all of the remaining cars (with

the exception of two) were finished be-

tween January and July of 1966. The

last two shipped were in March 1967

(to Canada) and April 1967 (to Bel-



314 Fall 2015