Sale of the Week

This 1966 Shelby GT350 sold for cheap, but it has stories

by Andrew Newton
14 July 2023 3 min read

The 1965 and 1966 GT350s were the very first Shelby Mustangs. They’re also the purest, the raciest and, on the classic car market, the most expensive. The condition #2 (Excellent) value for a ’66 GT350 fastback in the Hagerty Price Guide is $285,000, so when a real-deal restored car with classic Shelby colors and several special features sold on AutoHunter this week for $217,000, we got curious. Like many high-tier classics that sell for bargain money, there are some asterisks in its history, including a theft. If we take the pros and cons into account, though, was it a good deal?

Thanks to the Cobra, Shelby was already a big name in American performance by 1965, which is when he turned his attention to the all-new Mustang. In turning Ford’s breakout hit pony car into a track weapon, Shelby took the tried and true 289-cid V-8 and massaged it with an aluminum high-rise intake manifold, headers, and more for a bump to 306 horsepower compared to 271 in the hottest of Ford’s offerings. Rear seats were replaced with a fiberglass shelf and all GT350s got a fiberglass hood, while braking and suspension upgrades gave the Shelby ‘Stang all-round performance. An even hotter “R” version of the GT350 won the SCCA B-Production championship three years on the trot. A total of 562 1965 cars were built, and buyers could get any color they wanted as long as it was Wimbledon White.

For 1966, the most obvious changes were the addition of more colors and rear quarter windows in place of the ’65’s extractor vents. But the 1966 cars are also decidedly less racy. The over-rider traction bars went away, a regular back seat arrived on the options list, and rear-exit exhausts replaced the sexy side pipes. Nearly 1400 were sold. The trend then continued on from there, with 1967 and later GT350s getting even less sporty: think less Shelby and more Ford. The original ’65s are therefore the ones to have, but there were also 252 Shelby Mustangs built for 1966 that the Shelby community labels “Carryover” cars – something of a cross between ’65 and ’66.

Which brings us to this ’66 Shelby, SFM6S006. It’s the sixth 1966 GT350 built and one of those “Carryover” cars, which means it has desirable features from the ’65 model like lowered front control arms, rear over-rider traction bars, ’65 interior appointments, and a gloss black engine block (’66 blocks were painted blue). It was fully restored by a Shelby specialist in the late 2000s and, by the photos at least, looks like a beautiful and correct car.

In addition to the $285K condition #2 value, the Hagerty Price Guide also tacks on a 35% premium for 1966 Carryover cars. Even ignoring the premium, though, this GT350 sold for about 28% under #2 value at a $207,000 hammer bid, or $217,000 final price. The seller, Barret-Jackson (who has a relationship with online auction company AutoHunter), also had it listed for a not much higher $245,000 on Hemmings. The delta between its Price Guide value and sale price is largely due to misfortune early in this car's life. 57 years ago, the still unsold Mustang was stolen, stripped, recovered, and bought back by the original Ohio Ford dealer. According to Barrett-Jackson, it then went through five owners before its restoration in the 2000s and subsequent sale to a Shelby enthusiast in Denmark.

How much of the car was "stripped" in period isn't really clear, but it was a lot. The restoration involved replacing much of the front of the body as well as the drivetrain. It also rides on the optional Shelby/Cragar wheels rather than the steelies it originally came with, and wears blue Le Mans stripes instead of its original all-white. So while it all looks clean and correct, much of this car isn't what rolled out of Shelby American in late 1965.

Replacement drivetrains and rebodies are of course a knock to values. So is a theft on the record. But lots of cars that are half a century old have accumulated their own stories. Age, use, and abuse can result in a replacement engine. Rust or accident damage can require body work. This stuff happens. So for someone looking for a genuine GT350 who wants to use it, enjoy it and casually show it, but isn't into sweating all the details, this car came at a serious discount.


  • Gary Bechtold says:

    $217k is not a bargain in my world. Sure it’s lower than expected but “bargain”? Hardly. I don’t live in that world.

  • paul s murray says:

    The first thing that strikes me is that the ‘interior appointments’ in a 65 had a tach/ oil pres. gauge pod on the dash instead of the screwed on one seen here. Yes the 66 was a bit more civilized than the 65 but not necessarily for the reasons you’d think. The switch to bolt on style traction bars was a compromise but the 65 ‘over’ type being mounted in the interior would leak water on to the floor even with the rubber booties. The battery was moved back to engine compartment in another cost saving measure but in the days before maintenance free batteries they were frequently overlooked when being mounted in the trunk and didn’t get the required top off of distilled water from the men at Texaco. The ‘Locker’ went on to the option list too.Largely because they are noisy and the dealers frequently had owners bringing their cars in because they thought there was a problem with them. So the softening of the Shelby in part came from customers wants. Shelby himself said that what people really wanted was something that looked like a racer but without the harsh ride and lack of creature comforts. Which is what they became. To that end he didn’t mind handing the project (and his name) over to Ford. Despite the Texas chicken farmer in overalls reputation he was a business man with a business to run and other projects to attend to. And everyone likes to eat and eat well when possible. So is 217k a bargain? I can’t afford it but it is a relative bargain for what is. Just like I’ll never own a Cobra but a Tiger wouldn’t exactly suck.

  • JohnfromSC says:

    The challenge with this car is that there are factory correct Shelby replicas/tributes out there made painstakingly from collecting original Shelby parts that can only be verified as not a true Shelby based on stampings. These cars go for $100K if they are really correct and give you the authentic Shelby driving experience. (I know of what I speak having a good friend with one of these that he painstakingly built over many years and has been reviewed by Shelby experts.) So to me and I suspect to others, this car sits in a no-man’s land price wise.

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