The Legendary 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R: A Racing Icon

The 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R holds a special place in automotive history as a highly sought-after competition variant designed by Shelby American to boost Ford’s presence in SCCA Production racing. With its impressive performance and unique features, this iconic car has become a legend among racing enthusiasts. In this article, we will delve into the rich history and remarkable characteristics of the 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R.

A Racing Legacy

The Cobra Caravan Tour

One of the notable achievements of the 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R was its participation in the Cobra Caravan Tour organized by Shelby American. This tour aimed to promote the manufacturer’s racing accomplishments and featured a lineup of exceptional vehicles. Chassis 5R213, adorned with blue fender script highlighting the GT350’s SCCA prowess, joined other remarkable cars like the GT40, Cobra Daytona coupe, and Cobra roadster during this tour.

Racing Dominance

The GT350R, also known as the R-Model, proved its racing prowess by securing three consecutive SCCA B Production national titles. This achievement solidified the car’s reputation as a formidable competitor on the track. The first of these national titles was celebrated during the aforementioned Cobra Caravan Tour, further showcasing the GT350R’s exceptional performance.

A Journey Through Time

From Peru to the United States

After its initial construction, chassis 5R213 embarked on a journey that would take it from Peru to the United States. In 1966, a group of wealthy sportsmen in Peru imported a collection of R-models, including this particular car, to participate in rallies and endurance races. The GT350R remained in Peru until 1984 when an Arkansas collector acquired it and brought it back to the US, along with two other Peruvian R-models.

Restoration and Recognition

Over the next two decades, the car made its way through different states, residing in Arkansas, Connecticut, and California. During its stay in California, the GT350R underwent a meticulous refurbishment and received additional enhancements. These efforts paid off when the car achieved a prestigious Triple Crown on the Shelby show circuit in 2017. Its exceptional condition and historical significance garnered well-deserved recognition and admiration.

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Unveiling the GT350R

Specifications and Features

The 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R boasts a range of features that set it apart from its street counterparts. Dressed in its original Wimbledon White color with Guardsman Blue Le Mans stripes and side accents, the GT350R exudes an unmistakable racing aesthetic. Notable design elements include a fiberglass front apron with integrated brake-cooling intakes, flared fenders, a top-vented plexiglass rear window, pull-up plexiglass side windows, and riveted aluminum sail panel block-off plates.

Performance Enhancements

To optimize its performance on the track, the GT350R underwent modifications and additions. Aluminum wheels replaced the original ones, complemented by BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires. The sale also includes the original magnesium wheels, wrapped in 9.50-15 racing tires, along with a spare magnesium wheel. Braking is handled by ventilated front discs and 10”-diameter rear drums, ensuring reliable stopping power. Cooling ducts are strategically placed to maintain optimal temperatures during intense races.

The Purposeful Cockpit

Inside the GT350R, the focus remains on performance and safety. The cockpit features a stripped-down interior with no carpeting. The driver’s seat and standard passenger seat are both upholstered in black, providing a stylish yet functional environment. Safety equipment includes a roll bar, a driver’s shoulder harness, a latch-and-link lap belt for the passenger, and a console-mounted fire extinguisher. The wood-rimmed steering wheel frames essential gauges such as a 160-mph speedometer, a tachometer with a 6,500-rpm redline, and various gauges to monitor vital engine parameters.

Unleashing the Power

Performance Upgrades

The GT350R is powered by a replacement 289ci V8 engine, specifically a HiPo (High-Performance) version. Installed by the current seller, this engine received several enhancements to deliver impressive power output. A flat-tappet camshaft was installed, and the cylinder heads underwent rebuilds, with replacement valve springs, keepers, retainers, and guides. Additionally, the water pump, lifters, timing assembly, and other components were replaced to ensure optimal performance.

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Performance Components

Complementing the engine upgrades, the GT350R features a range of competition-grade components. These include an oil cooler, high-capacity radiator, electric fuel pump, tri-Y exhaust headers, and a 34-gallon fuel tank with a 3.5” filler. These enhancements contribute to the car’s exceptional performance and ensure it remains competitive even in demanding racing conditions.

A Glimpse into the Past

Historical Documents and Photos

As a testament to its rich history, the GT350R comes with a collection of historical documents and photos. These documents offer valuable insights into the car’s past, including its participation in the Cobra Caravan Tour and its journey from Peru to the United States. Owning this car grants a unique connection to its storied legacy and provides an opportunity to appreciate its significance in the automotive world.

1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R

Recognized and Verified

The authenticity and legitimacy of the GT350R are verified through various sources. Letters from esteemed figures in the SAAC (Shelby American Automobile Club), such as Rick Kopec and Howard Pardee, confirm the car’s Shelby and Ford serial numbers, aligning with Shelby factory records. Furthermore, the car’s SAAC Registry entry solidifies its provenance and adds to its historical significance.


The 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R stands as a testament to the golden era of American muscle cars and the thrilling world of motorsports. From its humble beginnings to its racing dominance and subsequent restoration, this legendary car continues to captivate enthusiasts and collectors alike. Its remarkable design, performance upgrades, and rich historical background make it a highly coveted and iconic piece of automotive history.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R cars were produced? The exact number of 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350R cars produced is uncertain. However, it is believed that approximately 36 examples of the special competition variant were built by Shelby American.

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2. What makes the GT350R different from the regular GT350? The GT350R was a turn-key racing variant designed specifically for SCCA Production racing. It featured various enhancements such as fiberglass front aprons, flared fenders, plexiglass windows, and riveted aluminum block-off plates.

3. Can the GT350R be driven on public roads? While the GT350R was primarily designed for racing purposes, some examples have been modified for street use. However, it’s important to check the regulations and requirements of your specific jurisdiction before driving the car on public roads.

4. What is the significance of the Cobra Caravan Tour? The Cobra Caravan Tour was a promotional tour organized by Shelby American to showcase the manufacturer’s racing achievements. It played a vital role in raising awareness and establishing the GT350R’s reputation as a formidable racing machine.

5. How does the GT350R compare to other high-performance muscle cars of its time? The GT350R holds its own against other high-performance muscle cars of the era. Its racing pedigree, aerodynamic enhancements, and powerful V8 engine make it a fierce competitor on the track, leaving a lasting impression on both drivers and spectators alike.