Matt Stone
August 24, 2015

In-the-know classic car types consider the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, now in its 65th year, to be the world’s most significant classic car show. It takes place on the closed-for-the-day 18th fairway of the world famous Pebble Beach golf course and Lodge, in the Del Monte Forest area of California’s Monterey Peninsula, with a fabulous view of the Pacific Ocean. The beautiful, the wealthy, and the wannabes stroll the lawns dressed to the hilt, smoking stogies and/or sipping champagne, and you’d guess they’d be looking at Bugattis and Bentleys, Duesenbergs and du Ponts, great and grand pre-WWII Lincolns and Caddies. Ferraris? Of course. But Fords? Yes, believe it.

With 1965 marking 50 years since the birth of the Shelby G.T. 350, Pebble Beach chose to commemorate this important anniversary moment in automotive history, with a special class dedicated to the first generation Shelby Mustang, thus inviting eight important early G.T. 350s to strut their Shelby stuff on the perfectly manicured grass of the Pebble Beach Concours. As these very special Mustangs rumbled onto the show field, or up on Pebble’s famous presentation ramp, to claim their class awards, they really rocked the house. And the crowd accustomed primarily to the silent purr of Packard, Cadillac, and Lincoln V-12s just ate up the rumble and bark of these Shelbys’ rough and tumble 289s. It was a sight to see and hear, and one for all time.

The third and second place award winners take their place in the awards ceremony staging lanes. At right is Bobby Rahal's 5S558 which earned third in the special G.T.350 class, and behind at on the left is 5S003 an early '66 prototype which earned second place.
Something few thought they'd ever see: a dazzling trio of Shelby Mustangs preparing to pick up the hardware at Pebble Beach, in this case sharing their place in line with a ’50s Mercury lead sled and a Zagato-bodied Maserati.

Pebble Beach awards first through third places in most of its show classes, and this year’s winners appropriately celebrated the appeal, importance, and significance of the G.T. 350 in the pantheon of automotive history. Third place was taken by Indy 500 winner, Can-Am racer, former F1 driver, and now racing team owner Bobby Rahal with his ’65 G.T. 350, which he restored and was on hand to drive across the ramp to claim his trophy. Second in class was well deserved by the 1965 Shelby G.T.350 prototype of Seattle, Washington’s Mark Hovander. This car is unique in many ways in that it carries paint and trim options that were under consideration for the updated 1966 G.T. 350 but were ultimately vetoed for production. The class’s big winner was Redmond Washington’s John Atzbach with his stunning, race-trimmed ’65 G.T. 350 (Shelby 5R002, the first competition G.T. 350). As the car crawled up the long winner’s ramp, Atzbach arced the engine a few times, cleaning off the plugs and drawing appreciative applause from the knowledgeable, enthusiastic crowd.

It was an appropriate recognition of this important five decade milestone, and even among the rest of the highbrow, coach-built field of classics, the G.T. 350s looked great, and you could almost hear Carroll Shelby, up in heaven or somewhere, having a good hard chuckle at the idea of his hot rod Mustangs smoking up the grass at Pebble Beach.

Racer and racing team owner Bobby Rahal was on hand to drive his third place-winning G.T.350 across the ramp to pick up his trophy; he seemed most relaxed spending a day away from the race track, happily posing for photos and chatting with the crowd.
"Getting high (judging scores) with a little help from his friends." Team Atzbach mugs for the camera and shows off two very important and hard earned trophies at Pebble Beach. The big steering wheel represents the Road & Track award from the magazine of the same name, denoting 5R002 as the car they'd most like to take home from the event, and at far right, the first in class trophy honoring the car's win in the special G.T.350 category. The gang, from left, are John Huffman, John Brown, Blake Siebe, Jacqueline Jacques, Jim Wicks, John Atzbach, Cary Atzbach, and Jim Duncan.