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One car, 5R537, was not completed

to R-Model specifications. Sometime

before May of 1965, this car received

prototype sections of a 1967 Mustang

chassis which would accommodate a

big block engine. A lightweight GT40

MK II 427 engine was installed along

with a top-loader four-speed and the

car was used as a test mule for the

new GT500. It was track-tested by

Chuck Cantwell at Willow Springs in

May or June of 1966. It was also sent

to Ford in Michigan where it was the

second fastest car to lap their han-

dling track (the only car faster was a

GT40 MK II driven by Dan Gurney).

Orders for new R-Models had just

about dried up by the middle of 1966,

proving how astute Shelby American

was in knowing how many R-Models

to build. After 5R537 was returned to

Shelby American the engine and

transmission were removed and the

car sat in a corner until it was pur-

chased by a unidentified Shelby Amer-

ican mechanic as a roller in August

1967. This was about the time that

Shelby American’s lease on the two

North American hangars was expir-

ing. Production of 1968 models would

be moving to Michigan and the race

shop was moved to Torrance, Califor-


Even though 5R537 had not be

completed to full R-Model specifica-

tions, it had received an R-Model

Shelby VIN. This still left 36 cars ac-

counted for but according to the

Shelby American ledger, 37 Ford VINs

were listed as being intended for com-

petition cars and delivered in compe-

tition knock-down specifications.

However, only 36 cars were recorded

as having been converted into R-Mod-

els. According to the ledger, the Ford

number of the “missing” R-Model was

built into 6S800. The plot was thicken-


Ownership of 6S800 was reported

to the registrar by an owner in Japan,

Takahiro Ishii. However, the Ford VIN

he provided was a 6R09K number, not

the 5R09K number for the unbuilt R-

Model. To make the matter even

murkier, the 1966 Ford VIN claimed

by Ishii had been, according to the leg-

ger, used to build 6S791. This car was

owned by Ken Nelson who has had the

car since 1971 and has put over 200k

miles on it. Neither he or Ishii have

been able to provide the VIN from

their car’s engine block. It is possible

that the engine originally in 6S791

could now be in 6S800. At this point it

is part of the mystery.

Factory records show that 6S800

was originally purchased by Ray Wolff,

who worked as the sales manager at

Hi-Performance Motors and was also

an SCCA racer. He paid by check –

$208 – on 9/1/67. Wolff passed away

some time ago and apparently the de-

tails of 6S800 went with him. You have

to wonder what he could have received

for $208, even in September of 1967

when Shelby American’s hangars

probably resembled an “everything

must go” clearance sale. What is

clear – or as clear as it is likely to be

at this point – is that the chassis pur-

chased by Wolff carried one of the Ford

VINs that had originally been allo-

cated to build a GT350 competition

car. Obviously that car was never

built, and it represents the discrep-

ancy between 37 Ford VINs of cars

that were intended to be built into R-

Models and the 36 cars which actually

were made into R-Models.

Where does this leave Ford, today,

having built one additional GT350R

“tribute car”? If they were playing

solely to an audience of Shelby fanat-

ics it would probably leave them with

a black eye as far as history goes. How-

ever, fifty years after the fact there

aren’t likely to be many lemon-suckers

in the crowd. There probably aren’t

any Ford employees around today who

have any first-hand knowledge or ex-

perience from having been there in

1965. Someone tasked with research-

ing the actual number of R-Models

built in 1965 probably got hold of a

book which used the 1987 Registry’s

figure of 37. Once they found that,

there didn’t seem like any reason to

keep looking.

The bottom line: 37 becomes the

magical number, and one additional

owner will get a 2015 GT350R. But

you know the




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