Two years ago, several of the surviving members of the original Shelby American team — aka the Original Venice Crew — met for dinner during the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Naturally, the conversation turned to the good old days and someone mentioned that the original Shelby Mustang GT350 was a terrific car — winning the SCCA National B-Production championship — but not really the car the group wanted to build.
What designer Peter Brock sketched and what the team wanted to build was a car with an independent rear axle, repositioned front suspension, Plexiglas rear and door windows, some special aerodynamic bodywork and other modifications which were allowed within the constraints placed on Carroll Shelby and company by the Ford Motor Company.
“This project started as a result of a discussion at SEMA two years ago,” said William Deary, whose The Carroll Collection, a private museum of Shelby vehicles, has helped put the project together.
Deary was at the dinner during the SEMA Show and told ClassicCars.com that OVC members said, “If we could have built this the way we wanted…”
“It was a fun dinner conversation,” he said, adding that the project really started to move forward in 2014 after a Shelby employees reunion.
Now, the project is just about finished, and the car will be unveiled February 14, exactly 50 years to the day after the original Shelby GT350R entered and won its first race. That first race and victory took place February 14, 1965, at Green Valley Raceway, a road course in North Richland Hills near Fort Worth, Texas.
“We want to do the 1965 GT350R right,” OVC member Jim Marietta is quoted in a news release in explanation of the redo.
The as-Brock-intended 1965 GT350R built by the OVC will be shown for the first time at Willow Springs Raceway north of Los Angeles as part of a weekend that includes a reunion for OVC members and Shelby American racing drivers, an open track day for GT350R and other Ford high-performance car owners, a celebration banquet on Saturday and a car show hosted by the Los Angeles Shelby American Auto Club on Sunday.
Planning for the build of the OVC GT350R began in the summer of 2014, with the construction done at Brock Racing Enterprises in Nevada.
“It is remarkable that we can bring some of the original mechanics and fabricators of Shelby American such as Jim Marietta, Ted Sutton and Duane Carling back to our Brock Racing Enterprises shop in Henderson, Nevada, to enjoy and celebrate again the camaraderie, intensity and can-do spirit that was the essence of the 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R program,” Brock said in the news release.
According to the release, the OVC team has built two cars using original 1965 K-Code Mustangs, one with the original live axle and the other using original Ford blueprints for the independent rear suspension that was engineered for the original 1965 Shelby GT350R. Because of time limits and cost restrictions, such a car was not built then, but the all new 2015 Ford Mustangs are equipped for the first time with standard IRS axles.