Lot 640: Ford Shelby Mustang GT 350H
Introduced in the middle of the 1964 model year, the Ford Mustang changed the world. A year later, Shelby changed the Mustang.
It’s safe to say that Lee Iacocca knew a thing or two about building and selling cars. As president of the Ford Motor Company, his new Mustang brought him accolades for creating both a new market segment as well as a money spinner for Ford.
The car Iacocca brought to market used the existing Falcon platform and was given sporty styling that became an instant hit. With a 101 horsepower six-cylinder engine it was a pleasant car that was nimble and far smaller than the average American car of the day. With a 260 V-8 it was moderately powerful and equally adept for a trip to the supermarket or a cross-country jaunt. And those were just the two junior engines. Three different 289s were offered, ranging from 220 horsepower, up to 271 hp. With a four-speed transmission and that top engine, the 2,500 pound Mustang would really scoot.
No matter that the live rear axle and drum brakes were hardly the underpinnings of a world-class sports car. The public simply adored the Mustang and a whole new genre was born—the pony car.
In 1965, Ford expanded its relationship with former racing driver Carroll Shelby. Best known for helping Aston Martin to win the World Championship for Sports Cars in 1959 and for shoe-horning 289 and 427 Ford V-8s into the British A.C. Ace, Shelby was given the chance to makeover the Mustang. Initially passing by the notchback coupe and convertible, Shelby went to work on the Mustang fastback. Cosmetic changes were largely limited to trim, paint and stripes, but the big differences were under the skin.
Displacement remained at 289ci, but higher compression and other tuning wizardry, boosted output to 306 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. The powerful V-8 was mated to a four-speed manual transmission, although a three-speed automatic was offered in 1966.
Other changes in 1966 meant that three different models were built. The bulk of production consisted of 1,438 GT-350 fastback coupes, available through selected Ford dealers. The remaining 942 cars simply weren’t available to the public. A select six friends or employees of Carroll Shelby got their hands on GT-350 convertibles. The remaining 936 GT-350H fastback coupes were sold directly to Hertz to be used as rental cars. Although the stories may be apocryphal, there are tales of GT-350Hs being rented on Friday and returned on Monday—with holes where roll bars had been mounted for weekend rent-a-racing.
This particular GT-350H looks great in blue with five-spoke period alloy wheels. It also looks like it would be great fun to fire it up, depress the clutch, shift the four-speed into first and let it rip.
Collectors' Motor Cars|
Bonhams & Butterfields, Larz Anderson Auto Museum, Brookline
|Hammer Price (inc premium)||$74000|
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