Automotive

Original Shelby engineers give 1965 GT350R a new lease on life

Original Shelby engineers give...
The GT350R would look wrong finished in anything other than Wimbledon White with blue stripes 
The GT350R would look wrong finished in anything other than Wimbledon White with blue stripes 
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The Original Venice Crew alongside a GT350R
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The Original Venice Crew alongside a GT350R
The GT350R is being given a new lease on life at the hands of three original engineers
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The GT350R is being given a new lease on life at the hands of three original engineers
The rear window on the GT350R by OVC is new for 2017
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The rear window on the GT350R by OVC is new for 2017
The Shelby GT350R has an independent rear suspension, originally designed by Ford in the 1960s
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The Shelby GT350R has an independent rear suspension, originally designed by Ford in the 1960s
The GT350R would look wrong finished in anything other than Wimbledon White with blue stripes 
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The GT350R would look wrong finished in anything other than Wimbledon White with blue stripes 
Plexiglas has been used for the rear and three-quarter windows on the GT350R 
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Plexiglas has been used for the rear and three-quarter windows on the GT350R 
The modern GT350R will be finished to period specification 
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The modern GT350R will be finished to period specification 
The dashboard on the GT350R is period correct 
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The dashboard on the GT350R is period correct 
The interior of the GT350R is pared back for racing 
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The interior of the GT350R is pared back for racing 
The independent rear suspension on the GT350R
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The independent rear suspension on the GT350R
The GT350R was put to the test at Willow Springs in 2015
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The GT350R was put to the test at Willow Springs in 2015

Modern restorations of classic cars are in vogue at the moment, and Shelby American is keen to get in on the action. The team behind the 1965 GT350R, dubbed the Original Venice Crew (OVC), will build modern recreations of that classic muscle car with an independent suspension setup originally designed by Ford in 1964.

The OVC is made up of three engineers: Peter Brock, Jim Marietta and Ted Sutton. They start with with a 1965 Mustang, just as they did when creating the original car, with power from a 289-cu-in engine. But the benefit of hindsight has allowed them to improve on the original design this time around, to produce a better handling racer.

For one, the rear and three-quarter windows are made of Plexiglas for a lighter kerb weight, and the original front valance has been replaced with a slicker unit. Although the changes are subtle, the team says its new shape better channels air to the big V8 up front, and fits more closely with the rest of the Mustang aesthetic.

The GT350R was put to the test at Willow Springs in 2015
The GT350R was put to the test at Willow Springs in 2015

"The revised shape of the window improves the car's interior aerodynamics by promoting better airflow for driver comfort while the new front valance has a much closer identity with the original Mustang front-end while increasing the efficiency of airflow to cool the engine," says Peter Brock. "While these changes may look subtle, they combine with the new suspension to dramatically change the character of the car."

Perhaps more significant is the fully independent rear suspension. Although it was designed as a track-only version of the GT350, budgetary and time constraints meant the original GT350R was sold with a rudimentary live axle setup. The modern iteration will be fitted with an independent rear suspension, penned by Ford Advanced Vehicle, but not used on the final product.

The team originally planned on building just one car, which was put to the test at Willow Springs Raceway in early 2015. As interest in the project built, the OVC decided to explore whether there was a business case for producing a (very) limited number for collectors. As you might have guessed by now, Ford and Shelby have granted the team licenses to build 36 examples.

The Shelby GT350R has an independent rear suspension, originally designed by Ford in the 1960s
The Shelby GT350R has an independent rear suspension, originally designed by Ford in the 1960s

"The 1965 Ford Shelby GT350R changed the performance car landscape," says Jim Marietta, CEO of the Original Venice Crew. "Three of us who created the first Shelby GT350Rs at the Venice, California, race shop reunited in 2015 for a very special project. We agreed to build the 'R' model that we envisioned in 1965, but couldn't due to time, expense and other restraints."

The finished product will be outfitted like the original GT350R, which means they'll have a pared-back interior ready for competition. The engine will be built around a cast iron block supplied by the Carroll Shelby Engine Company and hooked up to four-speed gearbox. Each example will be built around a fully reconditioned classic Mustang body, complete with the new front valance and reworked windows.

Pricing is yet to be announced.

Source: Original Venice Crew via Business Wire

6 comments
possum1
If this thing had showed up in 1965 with an independent rear end, the whole muscle car movement would have been forced by necessity to become an complete package - handling and GO.
Kpar
possum1 is correct. The Chevy Corvette had had trailing arm IRS since '63, and the Corvair shared that design from '65 to '69 (albeit with a lot less power available). The Mustang kept a solid axle until 2011- the last Ford car without IRS. The BBC's show Top Gear ran a conventional Mustang (08?) against a Roush racing IRS model. The result? The Stig turned in a time about 1-1/2 seconds faster with the Roush car- a HUGE difference!
VincentWolf
It would have a better lease on life as an electric......
Bob
I don't quite understand messing with an original car even by the original designers. It would be foolish to race these collector cars and they would be no match for new models. Unfortunately, there is no going back to the good old days to fix what might have been. I would rather have the original car. I can always by a newer one (probably for much less money) if I want more performance.
Dan Lewis
I'll applaud the Shelby group when the wake up and start offering ELECTRIC MONSTER MUSTANGS.
ljaques
The early Stangs were notorious for losing traction, and I learned how to 4-wheel drift Mom's 64-1/2 Mustang convertible with the 260cid/auto package easily. I wish it'd had that handling package on it. My 62 Corvair convertibles stuck to the road a whole lot better, despite their wonky steering habits. (g) And my 70 AMC Javelin 390cid/4-sp close ratio would send my back seat passengers from side to side with the quick flip of a wrist. The regular old passenger car Bridgestone tires stuck like glue, and it was my only true muscle car. Fond memories. I don't even want to know what the price on this GT memory costs. =:0 Hey, Shelby! Listen to Vince and Dan and put out a Tesla-eating electric. I remember a few years ago you could buy a cigarette lighter sound effect box which gave the car a revving engine. Silly, but...