1965 Shelby GT350 'R-Specification'
$300,000 - $350,000
- One of 562 GT350s built in 1965
- Originally sold through Jerry Aldermann Ford in Indianapolis, Indiana
- Upgraded to R-Specifications over 35 years ago by Shelby expert Curt Vogt
- Maintained by Cobra Automotive
- Documented by the SAAC Registry
Starting with Ford’s already exceptional “K-code” Mustang fastback, Carroll Shelby and his team at Shelby American loaded the GT350 with numerous suspension upgrades and improved safety equipment and beefed up the engine, adding approximately 35 horsepower over the standard “Hi-Po” 289 V-8. The result was a production class-racing powerhouse that easily met the challenge from other cars of the day, including the Sunbeam Tiger and Jaguar E-Type, as well as Ford’s arch nemesis, the Chevrolet Corvette. Shelby American produced only 562 of these tough-and-ready GT350s in 1965, and they are considered the most desirable and collectable among all Shelby Mustangs.
According to the SAAC registry, chassis number SFM 5S280 was received by Shelby American on 17 May 1965; work began that same day and wrapped up on 25 May 1965. Research of the Ford confidential vin revealed that this GT350 was one digit away from the start of the last batch of 15 R-models produced for 1965. It was shipped to Jerry Aldermann Ford in Indianapolis, Indiana on 21 June 1965. The dealership was invoiced $3,794.50, this included $214 for Cragar wheels and $33.50 for freight. It was sold to its first owner, Gilbert A. Littell of Indianapolis, Indiana on 22 November 1965. The car would remain under Littell’s ownership when he moved to Kentucky. The car remained in Kentucky, changing hands at least two times. It later moved to Virginia changing hands again at least two more times before moving on to an owner in Pennsylvania.
In 1981, noted Shelby expert Curt Vogt (Cobra Automotive) purchased this GT350 (SFM 5S280) out of Pennsylvania for $9,500. He restored it to R-model specifications utilizing as many real R-model parts as possible, with the goal being the most authentic GT350 upgraded to R-model specifications. Following completion, Vogt took the car to the Shelby convention in 1985 held in Great Gorge, New Jersey. One of the events held during the Shelby convention was at the drag strip where this GT350 claimed fastest car bragging rights.
In 1985, 5S280 was sold to a Shelby enthusiast in Connecticut, in order to purchase a real GT350R, 5R536 out of Texas. Curt Vogt borrowed 5S280 to campaign it in the 1990 Fall Festival vintage race at Lime Rock, a race which he won. Years later in October of 2007 the Shelby participated in the Mountain Mile in Virginia and West Virginia, a 1,500 mile rally. While most trailered their cars to the event, in this case the Shelby was driven to and from the rally, a 500 mile trip each way! The car was enjoyed at local shows and at regional Shelby events, with maintenance performed by Cobra Automotive.
The restoration has held up very nicely. Finished in the traditional GT350 color combination of Wimbledon White with Blue Le Mans stripes, this car retains all of the R-specification upgrades that installed in the early 1980s. This includes a plenum-style R-model hood with hood pins, R-model front apron with proper radiator screen, R-model driver and passenger windows, quarter window deletes, R-model rear window, R-model trunk retention hasp, and rear bumper delete. The wheel wells are gently flared, like factory, to make room for a set of original 15x7 American Racing magnesium wheels, including spare. Proper Koni shock absorbers ensure an accurate GT350 riding experience.
The Shelby’s K-Code engine is upgraded with the R-model oil cooler and Cobra oil filter adapter, R-model valve covers, R-model oil pan, original competition intake manifold and proper date coded 1965 715-cfm Holley carburetor. The R-model 2.5-inch side exit exhausts are fitted with mufflers, making it very streetable for long trips while still offering the great notes the 289 Shelby GT350 R-spec engine has to offer. Cooling is provided by a genuine 1965 Ford Galaxie radiator, just like with the 1965 R-models. The period correct engine is paired to a date coded, aluminum T-10 M four-speed manual transmission which sends power to a proper 1965 289 Hi-Po Detroit locker rear end with axle tag. The battery is mounted in the trunk, which also houses an eye popping 34 gallon R-model competition gas tank with proper splash bucket and LeMans 3.5-inch gas cap.
The interior is restored to full R-model specifications with sound deadening and carpets removed and the addition of an R-model roll bar. The spare is housed on the fiberglass package tray. The driver seat is the correct fiberglass example found in the R-model, while the passenger seat is standard Mustang, just as an R-model would have been delivered from Shelby American in 1965. Both have proper “Ray Brown” lap belts with the driver side additionally benefiting from shoulder harnesses. Rounding out the rest of the interior is period correct R-model instrumentation featuring a rare cable driven CS 8000-rpm tachometer, door panels, interior quarter window deletes, as well as radio and heater-delete. Additionally, the dash brace and pad have been removed.
Numerous other smaller details have been incorporated to upgrade this 1965 Shelby GT350 to R-model specifications. All of which were performed on an original, trunk-mounted battery 1965 Shelby GT350 with no known accident or troublesome rust issues. All Ford VIN’s and original Shelby serial tag have been verified by SAAC.
The 1965 Shelby GT350 is certainly classed in the upper echelon of American collectable automobiles. The opportunity to acquire one that was later accurately upgraded to R-model specification years ago by Curt Vogt, President of SAAC and owner of Cobra Automotive, with many original components, is worthy of serious consideration for any collector or enthusiast.