The Most Significant Mustang Ever Built? GT350R Prototype Going To Auction
Yes, there was the Steve McQueen ‘Bullitt’ Ford Mustang that crossed the block earlier this year, for the princely sum of $3.74 million. But in May, an even more important Mustang will be available at auction, one that may have changed the course of the model itself.
The 1965 Shelby GT350R Prototype, the first R version ever built, will be at Mecum Auction’s sale in Indianapolis from May 12 to 17. Model SFM5R002 was the first prototype built by Shelby American for Ford, which wanted a hotter, racing-spec version of its brand new Mustang. It was a test mule for different components and specs for future GT350Rs, but this one also hit the race track, piloted by a number of high-profile racers including Ken Miles, Bob Bondurant, Peter Brock and others.
In fact, in its first race in Dallas, Miles, a seasoned sports car racer who debuted at Le Mans in 1955, not only took the win but created an immortal moment when he was photographed soaring over a hill, his wheels a foot off the ground, earning this car the nickname ‘Flying Mustang’.
Shelby dominated SCCA races with SFM5R002 up to 1966, when the car was sold to Bill Clawson, a Ford engineer in Dearborn, who went on to race it with great success. In 1970, it was sold again and raced in Mexico for two years before it was, for some unknown reason, painted grey and parked for 17 years before someone discovered and purchased it.
Again, it went through a few more hands before finally being painstakingly restored to its original Wimbledon white with blue stripes. It’s made the rounds at the major concours events, including winning Best in Class at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The racing success of the GT350R, and SFM5R002 in particular, changed the image of the Ford Mustang from a ‘secretary’s car’ to a legitimate performance racer. Sorry, Steve, but this prototype may become the most expensive Mustang ever sold at auction.
*Images courtesy of Mecum Auctions