Mark Hovander and John Atzbach are two lucky men who own two 1965 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang original prototypes – two of only three ever made. The two friends are touring the U.S. this year, bringing their prized possessions to nine different events in 2014, including this weekend’s 40th annual Mid America Ford and Shelby Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Serial number SFM5S003 and SFM5R003 are two of the three original prototypes used by Shelby American to develop the road-going and racing versions of the GT350. In mid-1964, Shelby and Ford agreed to develop a high-performance version of Mustang that would compete in the Sports Car Club of America’s B-production class beginning in 1965.
In order for the car to be eligible, Shelby had to get at least 100 production street cars ready by January 1, 1965, with chassis and suspension upgrades that could not be changed for the race cars. That’s when Carroll Shelby and its team started working on three white K-code 1965 Mustang fastbacks fitted with the stock Hi-Po 271-horsepower, 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) V8 engine.
One of the three cars was used for the development of the street-legal GT350, while the other two were prototypes for the GT350 competition version. The street car was actually the first of the GT350 line, but a mix-up in stamping the VIN tags meant it actually got serial number 5S003 (S for street), while the race cars got 5R001 and 5R002 (R for racing).
Both cars have recently undergone a detailed restoration side by side so that they would look identical when placed next to each other. The two cars debuted together in March 2014 at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida, and were showcased again at the Mustang 50-year celebration at Charlotte Motor Speedway in April.
Oh, and if you are wondering what happened to the other Shelby factory team GT350-R model (SFM5R001), it is part of a private, undisclosed collection and has not been seen publicly in years.
By Dan Mihalascu