Photos & text courtesy of Mecum Auctions
In 1964 the Ford Motor Company was racing in virtually every possible venue and looking to expand its presence. With their all-encompassing “Total Performance” program in full swing around the world, Ford was readying to homologate a special version of the new Mustang for SCCA competition across the U.S. Already flush with the success of his racing Cobras and his work in developing the new GT40, Carroll Shelby was the logical choice, and so was born the Shelby GT350.
With the car’s specifications already finalized, a small run of ten Mustang fastbacks was sent to Shelby American’s Venice shops in December 1964 to develop production procedures and discover any associated problems. The last of those cars was SFM5014R, completed in January of 1965. Once the prototypes were completed and manufacturing procedures finalized, the cars were put into use as public relations and demonstration vehicles. One very memorable example was the case of Sports Car Graphic editor John Christy. An enthusiastic Shelby supporter who heaped praise on the man and his cars in every issue, Christy took his girlfriend on a three-week, 9,000 mile road trip in prototype number 007, subsequently reporting on it in the June 1965 edition, which remains a classic among automobilia collectors.
5014R served duty as a press car at Shelby American until late May of 1965, when it was sent with five other “advanced prototypes” to Shelby’s Hi-Performance Motors in Los Angeles, where it was sold as a used car six weeks later to a Las Vegas buyer. It appeared in Ohio where it was drag raced in the 1970s by Dave Demski. Thirty years later, with a single repaint and 39,000 miles on the odometer, then-owner Chris Cox turned the car over to Wisconsin Shelby expert Randy Bailey, who completed a masterful restoration in 2006.
The car was reintroduced to the public at the 2007 SAAC National Convention, where it fascinated experts and judges with some of its pre-production idiosyncrasies. For instance, none of the first ten prototypes were built as either “S” or “R” designated cars, so the designation of 5014 as an “R” model presented a mystery, one explained by GT350 Project Engineer Chuck Cantwell: “Those first ones were built on jack stands at Princeton Street before we moved to the airport and set up the proper numbers. Not until car 032 [finished in late February 1965] did these letters appear, by which time 014, finished a month earlier, would normally have been sold and gone. Instead, though, it stayed at Shelby American. Although impossible to verify, it could be that in February, when the new S and R designations took effect, instead of creating a new plate with the letter designation in the usual place, the R was simply stamped after the chassis number on the existing plate. The R was not appropriately applied, so it’s anyone’s guess why it was added. Maybe someone just got mixed up. It wasn’t built as a race model.”
The last Shelby GT350 Advanced Prototype, this significant car was shown at the Shelby American Museum and is featured in the new book "Shelby Cars in Detail". It is in Concours condition.