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The 1965 GT350 represents Carroll Shelby’s original vision for transforming the popular Ford Mustang into a thoroughbred sports car. In creating the GT350, the Shelby American team re-engineered virtually every aspect of the standard K-Code Fastback to develop a true dual-purpose machine, from fine tuning the chassis to employing numerous weight-saving measures. In total, Shelby American built just 562 examples of the GT350 for 1965, a figure that includes 34 R-models, drag cars, prototypes, and street production models. Today, these rare first-year Mustangs are the most sought-after by collectors, a credit to their limited production, race-bred components, and raw, uncompromising character.
As documented in the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) Registry, this GT350, chassis 5S291, was received at Shelby American’s Los Angeles headquarters on May 17, 1965 and completed on May 25. Given its build date, 5S291 is a relatively early production GT350 and, as such, features the desirable trunk-mounted battery, which was utilized to improve the car’s weight distribution.
The new Shelby was originally shipped to Riesmeyer Motor Co. of Crestwood, Missouri and sold to its first owner Craig Eton of nearby Rock Hill on October 8, 1965. Like many GT350s, this car enjoyed a foray into SCCA racing and the club registry records the names of its subsequent owners, almost all located in the State of Missouri.
Around 2000, Bob Gaines of Kansas City, Missouri, a noted Shelby collector and experienced SAAC and Mustang Club of America concours judge, acquired SFM5S291. After driving the car for a few years, he undertook a complete restoration to exacting SAAC Division 2 concours standards. In a letter to the consignor, Mr. Gaines explained that this restoration was carried out “with an emphasis on historical correctness and authenticity mirroring (down to the smallest of details) how the car would have appeared when delivered to its first owner in 1965.”
While Mr. Gaines oversaw the mechanical restoration, which included rebuilding the 289 Hi-Po engine and BorgWarner T-10 gearbox, the GT350 was entrusted to Mustang specialist Jeff Yergovich of R&A Motorsports in Lee’s Summit, Missouri for bodywork, paint, and upholstery. Following its restoration, Mr. Gaines drove the Shelby minimally, preserving it in outstanding show-ready condition.
The current caretaker, a California-based collector, acquired the Shelby in 2016 and has continued to enjoy the car sparingly. Throughout his ownership, Corvette Service Company of Carpinteria, California has maintained the GT350, which included a recent rebuild of the rear axle incorporating a new limited-slip differential, ring and pinion, and date coded housing. Today, the car is beautifully presented in the proper Wimbledon White livery, features optional Le Mans stripes, Cragar wheels, and correct 15" slotted steering wheel, and is accompanied by owner’s manuals, jack, car cover, and spare keys.
Expertly restored under the supervision of an SAAC judge and meticulously maintained since, this early production GT350 is a brilliant, collector-quality example of Shelby’s most iconic and beloved Mustang.
Please note that this vehicle is titled as a Ford.