The Mesmerizing 1965 Shelby GT350 that Appears One-Off, Yet Holds a Surprising Twist


The Ford Mustang, which debuted in April 1964 as a pony car with average power based on the Falcon, swiftly evolved into a full-fledged muscle car. And Carroll Shelby, who unveiled the GT350 in 1965, is entirely to credit.

1965 Shelby GT350 in Nightmist Blue Looks Like a One-Off Gem, but There's a Catch - autoevolution

While not as potent as the GT500, Cobra Jet, and Boss 429 models that followed, the GT350 was the most powerful Mustang until the GT500 arrived in 1967 thanks to a beefed-up version of Ford’s HiPo K-Code V8.

A 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) mill of the Windsor variety, the K-Code already delivered a solid 271 horsepower in the range-topping Mustang. But that wasn’t enough for Carroll Shelby, who fitted the V8 with a four-barrel Holley 725 CFM carburetor, a high-riser intake manifold, and new headers.

The upgrades increased output to 306 horsepower, about 13% percent more than the regular K-Code Mustang.

The Shelby GT350 wasn’t only about extra oomph. The cars were also built without rear seats and devoid of some interior features to save weight and make them eligible for SCCA racing. All told, its power-to-weight ratio was far superior to any factory Mustang available at the time.

The GT350 remained in production all the way until 1969, when Ford and Carroll Shelby parted ways. All versions are considered rare and desirable nowadays, but the first-year GT350 is by far the scarcest. That’s because Shelby put together only 562 cars. And not all of them were street-spec models.

Shelby also produced 34 competition models with GT350R designation, no fewer than 20 prototypes (including two convertibles), and four drags-pec cars. This leaves only 504 road-legal production models out there, some of which are still missing due to being scrapped, abandoned in junkyards, or locked up in barns.

As a result, buying a 1965 GT350 is a difficult and expensive t ask nowadays. Not only that, but these cars are also hard to spot in the metal since not too many of them are being paraded at local car shows. Not surprisingly, some enthusiasts who can’t afford to park a 1965 GT350 in front of their houses have created their own replicas based on first-gen Mustangs.

Most of them can be spotted as fakes from a distance, but some of these replicas look impressively authentic. The example you see here is one of those upgraded Mustangs that we could easily mistake for a full-blown 1965 Shelby GT350. Except for the Nightmist Blue color.

What’s wrong with it? Well, while Shelby offered various colors for the 1966 model year, the 1965 GT350 was restricted to just one hue, Wimbledon White. The options list also included Guardsman Blue stripes, but that was it in terms of color combos.

Now picture the scenario in which Shelby built a unique 1965 GT350 in dark blue and with white stripes. It would probably be worth millions nowadays, right?

Well, this Shelby is definitely a replica and no Shelby left the factory in blue for the 1965 model year, but it’s an interesting thought. Especially since this pony car comes with almost all of the cool Shelby goodies, including the rocker panel stripes with “G.T.350” letting, the Shelby badges, the hood pins, and the louvered quarter windows.

And before you say that all 1965 GT350s should have side-exiting exhaust pipes, 14 cars were built with rear-exiting exhausts to meet state regulations for sales in certain areas.

But the Shelby awesomeness comes to an end when you look inside. While fitted with an aftermarket Cobra steering wheel, this replica is a regular Mustang inside the cabin. It has a two-tone, white-and-blue interior that wasn’t available on the GT350, and it comes with rear seats, which weren’t offered in 1965.

Does it have a true-blue K-Code under the hood? Well, no, but it’s not a mundane Mustang either. This pony packs a 306-cubic-inch V8 crate engine built by BluePrint. Fitted with lots of performance parts, it mates to a five-speed manual gearbox and a nine-inch rear end. There’s no word as to how much oomph it makes, but BluePrint says this crate mill delivers up to 370 horsepower.

That’s far from impressive by modern standards, but it’s notably more than the stock Shelby GT350. More importantly, this engine sounds fantastic when the pedal hits the floor. Check it out in the video below.

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