Original Shelby engineers give 1965 GT350R a new lease on life
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 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 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.