The re-introduction of classic sports cars by their original automakers is all the rage these days. Jaguar Land Rover is producing a limited run of Jaguar D-types and Aston Martin offers new DB4 GT models.
Surviving members of Carroll Shelby’s “Original Venice Crew” are building 1965 Ford Shelby GT 350 competition models as they were originally designed, and now that team has challenged Aston Martin and Jaguar to a race — for honor, glory and charity.
Venice crew chief Jim Marietta announced the challenge: Bring the continuation builds to Willow Springs Raceway north of Los Angeles and race for 10 laps. If the Aston Martin or Jaguar beats the GT 350, the Original Venice Crew will donate $100,000 to the winner’s charity of choice. If the Shelby wins, the crew will donate $35,000 to charities including the Carroll Shelby Foundation.
Obviously, it would be nice of anyone who accepts the challenge agrees to a similar donation schedule.
“During an illustrious racing career where Shelby drove and won in anything and everything, Carroll developed a profound preference for cubic inches over cubic money,” Marietta is quoted in a news release. “That preference was infused into every vehicle rolling out of Shelby American’s shop, beginning with the Cobra and soon thereafter, the Shelby GT 350.
“It is with Shelby’s ‘everyman’ sensibility that we issued a challenge to both Jaguar and Aston Martin. The field of play is a race course, the proceeds go to charity, and while we can’t go back in time, we intend to relive the history.”
“Much like the first Shelby Cobra, the 1965 Ford Shelby GT 350 C/M changed the performance car landscape,” added crew member Ted Sutton. “By adapting lessons that our team learned racing Cobras and Daytona Coupes, we turned a ‘mule into a racehorse’ as Carroll Shelby said. Three of us who created the first Shelby GT 350 Competition Model in the Venice, California, race shop reunited in 2015 for a very special project. We agreed to build the car that we envisioned in 1965, but couldn’t due to time, expense and other restraints.”
About the same time the Shelby alumni started their project, they said, Jaguar and Aston Martin were revising their competitive histories from a bygone era.
“Some 62 years after the last D-type Jaguar was built in 1956, Jaguar Classic has restarted production of the iconic D-type race car in the Coventry factory in England,” the Original Venice Crew news release said. “From both a design and alphabetical standpoint, Jaguar’s D-type served as a bridge between Jaguar’s Le Mans-winning C-type of the early ‘50s and the production E-type, which made its debut in 1961.
“Dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1955 thru 1957, the D-type Jaguar serves as a reminder of Britain’s postwar success. It also illustrates how racecar design – at that time – could influence the engineering of a production car. Just 25 examples of the D-type will be built, fully a third of the 75 original D-types completed. Notably, Carroll Shelby had little direct experience with the D-type, other than the occasional dusting of one.”
On the other hand, “Shelby was much more closely connected to Aston Martin, having shared the 1959 Le Mans win in an Aston Martin DBR-1 with driver Roy Salvadori. However, it is not the DBR-1 that Aston Martin is recreating.
“The DB4 GT continuation car is the quintessential grand tourer built for competition, providing an absolutely unique combination of performance and luxury. It was a car rarely, if ever, equaled at the time of its introduction in 1959. And like Jaguar, only 75 examples were built between its launch and the end of ‘production’ in 1963.”
The crew also notes that the price of the continuation cars from England is “well into seven figures,” while their Shelby Mustang, of which only 36 will be produced, starts at $250,000.
“The ‘us vs. them’ and cubic inches vs. cubic money are only two of the pillars for the challenge proposed by the Original Venice Crew,” the team said. “Regardless of who wins the event, the OVC challenge represents a unique way to turn back the clock, a chance to revisit a moment in time, like Camelot, when only dialog was analog.
“While the world still has, and hopefully will always have, classic Astons, Jaguars and Shelby Mustangs, the intervening 50 years have civilized the resulting vehicles. While the challenge is intended to recall the past, the planned proceeds will go far in moving the selected charity forward.”