Presented by Mecum Auctions – Just as Carroll Shelby’s original Ford-powered Cobra roadster set a new standard for high performance in a sports car, the 1964 announcement of the new Ford Mustang reset the American public’s expectations for affordable performance in a mass-production automobile. The most inspired and brilliantly targeted product in automotive history, the Mustang’s meteoric rise to fame was unprecedented, appealing to the broadest cross-section of consumers ever encountered in Ford’s decades of market research. It was therefore inevitable that Ford would approach Carroll Shelby—already leading the charge in the company’s Total Performance campaign—to instill the Mustang with the performance needed to dominate SCCA B Production competition. Shelby’s answer to Ford’s command, the 1965 Shelby GT350, is firmly entrenched as a genuine American automotive treasure; a single encounter with one of these feral beasts can be a life-altering experience that has opened more than a few eyes to the magic of the times and people responsible for its creation.
Shelby American designer Peter Brock, one of the pivotal figures in the GT350 saga, has pointed out, “finding a GT350 Mustang in almost pristine condition is more than a minor miracle; it’s headline news.” Offered after 30 years of museum-quality storage, Shelby GT350 No. SFM5013 is the very car to which Brock was referring, and it is quite likely the most well preserved original GT350 in existence. Significantly, it has been in the careful stewardship of a small cadre of prominent collectors, beginning with its first owner, Sports Car Graphic Magazine Editor John Christy.
The story of 5013 begins with its arrival at Shelby American’s Venice, California, shop on December 20, 1964 as a special-order, partially completed Mustang 2+2 from the San Jose assembly plant, as orchestrated by GT350 Project Manager Chuck Cantwell. Work began on the car, which Shelby designated an “Advanced Prototype,” on January 5, 1965 and was completed on January 25. Upon its completion, it served as a PR vehicle and appeared in an early Shelby American promotional poster. On May 20, 1965, SFM5013 was picked up by Hi-Performance Motors in Los Angeles, who sold the car to Christy. A close friend of Carroll Shelby, Christy had been in on the action swirling around Shelby American right from the start. He was one of the first to drive the fabled CSX2000, and he closely covered the Cobra’s development in the pages of Sports Car Graphic. He also completed a course at Shelby’s School of High Performance Driving and was active in SCCA racing. Invited by Shelby to test drive a new GT350 (5007), Christy famously conducted a 10,000-mile road test in the same car, from Los Angeles to Sebring, Florida, to New York City and back to Los Angeles, chronicling his experiences in the June and July 1965 issues of Sports Car Graphic. Christy was so enamored of the GT350’s performance and handling that, immediately upon completing that now-famous road trip, he committed to the purchase of 5013 on May 24, 1965.
As is clearly shown by the GT350’s present odometer reading of just 6,950 miles, Christy drove the car very sparingly. He also fastidiously preserved it in as-new condition, as did all its subsequent owners. According to the Shelby Registry, Steve J. Karlock of Camarillo, California, purchased 5013 in 1976. It changed ownership several times in the late 1980s, passing between several noted California collectors and vintage racers until landing with its present owner (also a highly regarded California collector and racer) in 1989. Recognizing the car’s uniquely original condition, its current owner chose not to so much as move it, except to have it serviced and to maintain its mechanical and cosmetic fitness; otherwise, it remained undercover and well protected. As a result, Shelby GT350 No. SFM5013 is, as the legendary Peter Brock describes it, “probably the only example extant today that remains virtually untouched.” A more ringing endorsement would be hard to imagine, especially coming from a man of Brock’s vast experience and historic contributions to all things Shelby.
This vehicle will be auction at Mecum Auctions’ Kissimmee 2021 event (January 7-16, 2021).