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1966 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350 - From Demo To Racer
The story of a 1966 Shelby G.T. 350
Fast forward to June 2004 when Robert's friend, Roland Duclos, was visiting and asked about the car hibernating under the cover where his dog was sleeping. "Was it something special?" he asked. "It's a '66 Mustang Shelby G.T. 350," Robert replied. Robert knew the owner of the car wasn't going to do anything with it, and would sure love to reclaim the space in his garage. Robert made some calls and a deal was brokered. Roland was the new owner of a Shelby G.T. 350. He had no idea of the car's history, and was soon to be shocked with what he would discover.
"What were all of these crazy welds on this car?" he thought. The car had all of the numbers on it still, including the cherished Shelby ID plate on the inner fender. Some calls were made and Howard Pardee of the '65-'66 Shelby Registry shared what he had on file, including the confirmation that it was in fact a real G.T. 350.
"I knew from that moment, that I needed to go all-in with this car. No expense spared on any part it needed, to return it to as-raced condition." Roland dismantled the car in his small two-car-detached garage and cataloged everything. The first order of business was to undo the incorrect modifications made by other race teams over the years. The main correction being the cowl, which Roland has opened back up. Before long, he had the car mounted on a rotisserie. Looking at his pile of parts, he knew he had something special on his hands.
"It was all there," he said. "The correct suspension was all there, the 9-inch rear axle with 3.89 gears and Detroit Locker, original Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes and larger drums. Even the original override bars with rubber boots covering the holes that the Shelby boys cut!" Any part the car needed, Roland acquired original date-coded, or N.O.S. parts.
There were certainly some hurdles along the way, such as the unique '65 G.T. 350R fuel tank. It is actually two tanks welded together. The lower tank is normal with holes drilled in the top as a baffle. The top section is actually another tank cut in half, with the portion with the sending unit welded up and the drain plug relocated to the center to act as a vent. The original four-speed transmission, which is still with the car, is a wide-ratio Top Loader.
The original 289 has been rebuilt to its original as-raced specs, including refurbishing the original hi-rise intake manifold and cylinder heads, which Roland has a receipt from 1972 showing they were ported by Clay Brown Racing in California. The carb is a correct and date-coded Holley 715-cfm Le Mans version. The timing cover and water pump are vintage aluminum pieces. The Tri-Y headers were ceramic coated black for looks and functionality. The oil pan that came with the engine is the correct T-style pan with the S-code part number on it. Roland added a Boss 302 windage tray to keep the crank clean. Roland even tracked down an original G.T. 350R radiator and oil cooler setup, as this car has no cooling fan on it. During this car's glory days, the cars didn't need fans dragging the engine down, because the cars were constantly moving. The gargantuan-sized oil cooler helps the cause as well.
The bellhousing is a Cobra-spec scatter shield hiding a new 10.5-inch McLeod clutch. The wheels are date-coded vintage 15-inch Torque Thrust Ds, with correct Goodyear Blue Streak race tires (which he was able to track down with the help of a friend, who is under the employ of Goodyear).
Roland did take some liberties when building this car. He located original G.T. 350R aluminum door window frames with fixed vent windows and no window regulators, just straps attached to the plexiglass windows that must be raised by hand. They make reproductions of these, but repops just wouldn't do in this case! The rear plexiglass window is another original G.T. 350 R piece that is open at the top to vent air pressure when driving. We won't tell you how much that window cost him!