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Original Shelby engineers give 1965 GT350R new lease of life

16 August 2017

The Shelby team behind the 1965 GT350R is set to build modern recreations of the classic with an independent suspension setup originally designed by Ford in 1964.

The team, dubbed the Original Venice Crew, start with a 1965 Mustang with a 289 cu-in engine, but hindsight has allowed them to improve on the original design to produce a better handling racer.

In the updated model, the rear and three quarter windows are made of Plexiglas for a lighter kerb weight, while the original front valance unit has been replaced. The changes, although subtle, mean that air is channelled more efficiently to the V8 under the bonnet.

“The revised shape of the window improves the car’s interior aerodynamics by promoting better airflow for driver comfort while the new front valance has a much closer identity with the original Mustang front-end while increasing the efficiency of airflow to cool the engine,” says the OVC’s Peter Brock. “While these changes may look subtle, they combine with the new suspension to dramatically change the character of the car.”

Having more of an effect on handling is the new, fully independent rear suspension. The GT350R was designed as a track-only version of the GT350, but budgetary and time constraints meant that it was originally only sold with a live axle setup. The modern version will instead be fitted with an independent rear suspension designed by Ford Advanced Vehicle, but not originally used on the final product.

“The 1965 Ford Shelby GT350R changed the performance car landscape,” says Jim Marietta, CEO of the Original Venice Crew. “Three of us who created the first Shelby GT350Rs at the Venice, California, race shop reunited in 2015 for a very special project. We agreed to build the ‘R’ model that we envisioned in 1965, but couldn’t due to time, expense and other restraints.”

Each of the continuation Ford Shelby GT350Rs will be authentic, from its pared back racing interior to the mechanicals and cosmetics. Each car will use a competition prepared cast iron block engine supplied by the Carroll Shelby Engine Company, which will be mated with a period correct 4-speed transmission with an authentic Shelby shifter. The car bodies will be fully reconditioned and built to 1965 “competition” specs, before being finished in Ford’s iconic Wimbledon White paint.

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