The first 1965 Shelby GT350R competition prototype – which achieved the highest result ever recorded for any Ford Mustang when sold in 2020 by Mecum Auctions for $3.85 million – will return to the Mecum auction block in January 2022.
Known as the “Flying Mustang” because of an iconic photograph shot while being driven to victory by racing great Ken Miles that showed the Shelby with all four wheels off the ground, the race car will be offered during Mecum’s signature auction Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, set for January 6-16.
The prototype is the first Shelby GT350R to be entered in a sanctioned race, scoring wins in 10 competitions during the 1965 SCCA season, including the first victory for a Shelby Mustang, and winning the championship. Beside Ken Miles, famous drivers who took their turns behind the wheel of this historic racer included Bob Bondurant, Chuck Cantwell, Peter Brock and Jerry Titus.
The GT350, chassis No. 5R002, also served as a rolling laboratory for the Shelby crew to experiment with various tweaks and improvement for future competition cars.
“Notably, this car has served as the model and test mule for American engineers developing the next Shelby competition car and for 34 customer R-models produced and purchased thereafter,” according to a Mecum press release.
Aaron Shelby, grandson of the legendary Carroll Shelby who led development of the GT350 as well as the iconic Shelby Cobra, pointed out that this prototype holds a unique position in motorsport legend.
“As one of the most-decorated Mustangs in automotive history, this Shelby Mustang GT350R prototype upholds an important reputation for carmakers, engineers and fans alike,” Aaron Shelby said in the Mecum release. “Its history of high-performance, innovative design features and timeless aesthetic makes this vehicle a marvel for auto enthusiasts, and we are delighted to have taken part in shaping the future of car making and racing.”
The prototype has gone through a number of notable owners since its retirement from racing and test-mule duty, including a period when it was lost and rediscovered in Mexico in 1989.
The coupe was on display for 14 years after that at the Shelby American Museum in Boulder, Colorado, and then was acquired by big-time collector John Atzbach, who commissioned a four-year restoration.
Since then, it has been displayed at such key events as the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
The GT350 was brought to auction with much fanfare at Mecum’s Indianapolis sale in July 2020, where it pulled off its resounding record result. The Shelby comes with a ream of supporting documentation, including letters, notes and receipts.
For more information about the Kissimmee auction, where 3,500 collector vehicles are expected to be available, visit the Mecum website.