Shelby Mustangs at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Mustangs at Pebble Beach: Shelby G.T.350s rock the perfectly manicured grass at Pebble Beach
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.
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.