Track Test Shelby G.T. 350
In January 1965, Sports Car Graphic writer and soon-to-be Shelby team driver Jerry Titus tested the first competition G.T. 350
Editor's Note: Carroll Shelby had known Jerry Titus since 1957, when Titus managed the shop that built and maintained Shelby's Maserati race cars. By 1964, Titus had taken a job as tech editor at Sports Car Graphic magazine. As Carroll Shelby told interviewer Austin Craig, "(Jerry) said that he had heard that we were testing a Mustang race car and he would like to do a story on it. I invited him to come with us to test the first (competition) G.T. 350 with Ken Miles at Willow Springs. I asked him if he wanted to drive the Mustang and after a few laps he was faster than Ken!"
Actually, according to the story that Titus wrote for the March 1965 issue of SCG, he wasn't faster but did come within a second of Miles' lap times. Shelby soon offered Titus the job as Shelby American's team G.T. 350 driver. He won nine SCCA B-Production races in 1965 and the national championship.
Titus was the first journalist to experience Shelby's new G.T. 350, which we now know was SFM5R002, the first competition car. Reprinted here is Titus' report in full, with a number of photos that did not appear in the magazine.
In three short years, Shelby American has progressed from a rented stall in Moon Equipment's shop to a monster facility on the grounds of the Los Angeles International Airport—a parcel so vast that North American used to assemble their Saberliners there until the contract ran out. It will now be used for the assembly of the 427 Cobras and the Mustang G.T. 350. Shelby's alliance with Ford Motor Company has been a successful one for both concerns. The bib-overalled chicken farmer put far more teeth in Ford's Total Performance theme than any other competition ventures. In turn, he is being given a bigger and bigger slice of the performance pie.
The story of the Shelby-ized Mustang G.T. 350 started many months ago and reached a climax when the SCCA recognized it as a Production Sports Car, assigning it as a Class B. Familiar with some of the circumstances surrounding homologation of the original Cobra, we suspected Ole Shel had pulled another slickie. The normal production Mustang is a compact. SCCA didn't buy it quite that way either. They would only accept it as a sports car if 100 chassis were built by last January 1 that were decidedly special two-seaters, sold as an individual model, and delivered in raceable form. Knowing that Shelby had committed himself to a new model Cobra and the Ford GT, we figured he'd at last backed himself in a corner and were wondering how he was going to get out. The answer came as we were driving down the freeway in mid-December and passed a whole caravan of transport, each loaded with white fastback Mustangs, all missing hoods and in semi-stripped form. They were headed for the Venice, California, facility. Ole Shel had taken over the San Jose assembly line for a couple of days. Numbering well over 100, these cars were more than enough to convince the SCCA that Carroll wasn't kidding. Had they tested a prototype as we did, they'd have been even more convinced.
Development of the G.T. 350 has more-or-less become the "baby" of an English immigrant (now a citizen) alternately known under such aliases as "The Beak," "The Hawk," and "The Flyin' Limey"—Ken Miles. A Shelby employee for over a year now, he brings to the organization as much, if not more, road-racing savvy than any other man on this continent possesses. His official title is "Competition Consultant," but he wears a couple of other hats too. He goes like hell in any kind of race car and is a recognized suspension set-up artist. The latter two talents have been well applied to the Mustang G.T. 350, as we had ample opportunity to discover during a track test on the challenging Willow Springs circuit.