Market Finds: This Shelby GT350 Race Car Is A 40-Year Barn Find Secret

This Shelby GT350 Race Car Is A 40-Year Barn Find Secret

By Andrew Golseth
May 16, 2016

Photography Courtesy of Bonhams

Our love of cars typically revolves around classics wearing shiny paint framed in polished brightwork. Granted, we here at Petrolicious have always preferred a few stone chips and blemishes in favor of a flawless 100-point restoration specimen destined to collect dust in a climate controlled chamber. Though we love beautifully original and restored vintage tin, we love a good patina—especially when it’s an all-natural weathering like the current state of this 1966 Shelby GT 350.

We’ve covered Shelby Mustangs before, but those examples were either tediously restored or highly maintained with great care. This? This one-owner ’66 GT 350 was parked in a storage unit in 1976… and left to hibernate for the next four decades. The car recently rose from its slumber and is now being offered on the bidding block at the upcoming Greenwich Concours D’Elegance through Bonhams without reserve.

Originally, this race bred pony car was an active racer and demonstrator workhorse for the famous Harr Ford dealership based in Worchester, Massachusetts. In 1967, avid enthusiast Francis “Fran” Grayson visited the Harr Ford dealer to purchase a new performance car. At the time, the Harr showroom housed this GT 350 and an infamous Dragonsnake. Since the drag race Cobra was a tad rough for a streetcar, not to mention void of a roof, Fran opted for the more practical hopped-up Mustang.

Fran enjoyed this Shelby both on and off track for years and was adamant on maintaining the car’s condition. Throughout ownership, Fran thoroughly documented every document related to the GT, compiling its paper history in a binder that includes the Harr Ford salesman’s business card and original bill of sale.

Bizarrely in 1976, Fran parked his beloved racecar-for-the-road in storage. For undisclosed reasons, he remained quiet about his old racehorse, keeping his garaged Shelby a secret even to his family. In his final days of April earlier this year, Fran informed his loved ones of the hidden treasure—likely a shock to his family who hadn’t seen the car in 40 years.

Said to be completely original, though not presenting in pristine condition, we can’t help but wonder: what would you do with this car? Its current patina is eerily beautiful and we can’t help but think: it’s perfect as is. To make things even more difficult, the car comes with a plethora of original NOS Ford and Shelby parts that’d make restoring it all the more feasible.

Still in their factory packaging materials are NOS Ford quarter panels, Crager Shelby spec mag wheels (all five), a NOS Ford front passenger side fender, a NOS Ford fuel tank, and an extra pair of used doors. To make restoration all the more tempting are extra original Shelby vinyl side stripes.

Being a 1966 model, this Shelby is a carryover ‘65 with a slightly “softer” character compared to the more hardcore original batch of GT 350. After a number of complaints about the ’65 model being too harsh for the street, Ford twisted Carroll’s arm to make the ’66 model a little more user friendly in order to gain buyers. Still, these carryover models are stout machines built with performance in mind over comfort.

The want is strong but the avenue on what to do with such an original, slightly rusty early Shelby is a decision the lucky high-bidder will have to decide. As for us, we’d do our best to preserve its brute all-business patina demeanor, because oftentimes proudly showing your age is better than pretending to be young again.

– One owner since new
– Harr Ford race/demonstrator car
– All original and recently pulled from 40 years of storage

~306 hp, 289 ci Ford K-Code SOHC eight-cylinder, Borg-Warner four-speed manual transmission, Shelby A-Arm front and Ford 9 in. solid axle rear suspension, front disc and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 108 in.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: SFM6S163

Auction house: Bonhams
Estimate: £56,000 – £84,000 ($80,000 – $120,000 Usd.)
Price realized: Auction on June 5

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A gentlemen here in Arizona has one similar. He brings it to Cars and Coffee regularly. His is a 66 with race history as well. It is nice to see them in person. These cars are perfect for those who want to drive and enjoy them. Here is a pic.

Stephan Schier
Stephan Schier

289 is not a SOHC motor. It’s a pushrod motor with a single central cam. Did Bonhams get this wrong?

The only SOHC Ford motor of this era was the FE block, 427 “cammer”, originally designed to dominate NASCAR and swiftly banned from the series because of it’s success.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

I’d have to see this in the metal to be certain but from the photos alone methinks calling the motor a SOHC isn’t the only thing they’ve gotten wrong with this . Suffice it to say … wisdom and Shelby knowledge dictates this very well may be a Caveat Emptor purchase .. with an emphasis on the ‘ caveat ‘

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

FYI ; You nailed the facts about Fords only ‘ cammer ‘ of the 60’s .

For everyone else

Randy Richardson
Randy Richardson

The price is about what you would have to pay for a nice, driving, registered, street 1966 continuation GT350. When you consider a “patina” purchase you still have to consider exactly how original the car is and the overall good-to-poor condition. Based on these photographs the condition does not look very good and it will take a lot of time and money to get this GT350 back on the road safely, without replacing parts. I am involved in bringing a 1965 GT350 with unique history back to life that has been in “proper” storage for 27 years and looks perfect.… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Ahhh … wisdom and discernment versus buying into the myth and marketing of the ‘ Barn Find ‘ rearing its ugly head coming from someone other than myself . I thank you good sir !

I’d sum this up with a simple paraphrase from the movie ; ” Deliverance ”

‘ This aint right … ‘ … in more ways than one if’n y’all gets my drift .

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

This car makes me wonder if somewhere someone has a small collection of modern classics in this condition, rough but solid drivers. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate? Imagine this car, a Ferrari GTO, a 911R, maybe an early GTV racer all like this and really driven? Maybe that collector would invite friends to borrow them for weekend drives….anyway enough about that, now let’s talk about fuzzy bunnies and kittens….

Maxime Veilleux
Maxime Veilleux

Wow that level of rust and road rash gives this Shelby so much character.

If it was to purchased it I would probably leave it as it is and blast down some country road with it.