1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang

The Car that Defined Mustang Performance

1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang
The GT350 was the original "Shelby Mustang". Photo Courtesy of George Dye for About.Com

It's hard not to think of the Ford Mustang when you hear the name Carroll Shelby. The two go hand-in-hand. One is a successful American car with 40+ years of history on the road. The other is a former test pilot, turned race car driver, turned Mustang visionary.

In the Beginning

Shelby's first Mustang was the 1965 Shelby GT350; a powerful race car credited with enhancing the Mustang’s image as a performance machine. Ford, having seen the success Carroll Shelby had made of the Cobra race car, knew he was the man to make the Mustang a respected race machine. The company reached out to him to see if he could create a high-performance Mustang for street and track. Shelby was up for the task, and began work on the project in August of 1964. In September, the first Shelby GT350s were built.


  • Modified K-code 289cid V8 Engine w/306 hp
  • Side-exhaust pipes w/2-inch Glasspak mufflers
  • Hood-mounted air scoop
  • No rear seat
  • Only available in Wimbledon White
  • Standard GT350 rocker panel stripes
  • Optional Guardsman Blue Le Mans stripes
  • Rear battery on select models
  • 15-inch wheels (white-painted steel or cast magnesium Cragar Rims)

The 1965 Shelby GT350 was first revealed to the general public on January 27th of 1965, the same month that Shelby-American moved to its Los Angeles International Airport facility. Of note, it was the first race-ready car ever to be marketed by an American auto maker. Unfortunately, with a base price of $4,547, the car was too expensive for most consumers.

A True Mustang Racer

Those lucky enough to own one got their money's worth. The Shelby GT350 featured 306 hp courtesy of its modified K-code 289cid V8 engine. This was 35 horses more than that offered in the standard 289cid engine. The car also featured a Holly carburetor, Cobra valve covers, and a special Cobra hi-rise intake manifold. It also featured a four-speed manual transmission and side-exhaust pipes fitted with two-inch Glasspak mufflers. Most notably, the 1965 GT350 had no rear seat. This was because SCCA B Production requirements only permitted two-seater cars. In its place was a fiberglass floor, with a spare tire mounted beneath the rear glass.

A Look of its Own

As for exterior features, the 1965 Shelby GT350 came in one color, Wimbledon White (with black interior). In addition, all GT350s featured rocker panel stripes touting the GT350 name. An optional feature was Guardsman Blue Le Mans striping from front to back. These days, most classic 350s feature the striping. In fact, you’ll have a hard time finding one without them. In actuality, less than half of the Shelby GT350s sold in 1965 were equipped with the stripes.

In addition, the GT350 had a look of its own with a hood-mounted air scoop, along with 15-inch wheels in either white-painted steel or with cast magnesium Cragar Rims.

Another unusual feature of the GT350 was the rear battery setup on the first 300 or so units produced. The first Shelby GT350s featured batteries which were located in the trunk of the vehicle. Unfortunately, owners complained that fumes from the battery were making their way into the car. This resulted in the creation of Cobra Battery Caps which used hoses, and holes in the trunk floor, to vent the fumes. Shortly thereafter, the remainder of the Shelby Mustangs in 1965 were equipped with a battery in the engine compartment. As such, 1965 Shelby GT350s with batteries in the rear of the vehicle are even more sought after by collectors than the 1965 GT350 itself.

Limited Production

In all, 562 Shelby GT350s were produced in 1965, making this a car highly sought after by collectors. Of those produced, 516 were made for the street, while 36 "GT350R" models were built exclusively for road racing. The car won its first race ever in February of 1965 at Green Valley, Texas. The GT350R would go on to win SCCA races in Lime Rock, Connecticut, and Willow Springs, just to name a few. In fact, it was so popular, in May of 1965 the first GT350 drag car was built.

Production Stats

1965 Shelby Mustang GT350
Street: 516 units
GT350R: 36 units (34 public/2 factory prototypes)

Total Production (Including company cars, prototypes): 562 units

Retail Price: $4,547 Street Shelby GT350/ $5,995 GT350R

Engine Offerings

Exterior Colors: Wimbledon White

Vehicle Identification Number Decoder

Example VIN #SFM5S001

5=Last digit of Model Year (1965)
SFM=Shelby Ford Mustang
S=Body Code (S/Street & R/Race)
001=Consecutive unit number