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Billion-to-One Odds, 1965 Shelby G.T. 350
What are the odds of a 1965 Shelby G.T. 350 and its original matching-number 289 Hi-Po Engine becoming reunited?
SFM-5S505, a 1965 Shelby G.T. 350, arrived at Shelby American in Los Angeles on June 15, 1965 as a Wimbledon White fastback hot off the truck from Ford’s Milpitas, California assembly plant. Work began June 22, and SFM-5S505 was ready for shipment by rail to Archway Motors Ford in Baltimore, Maryland June 29 with optional Cragar wheels and Le Mans stripes. Richard Wiley of Bowie, Maryland bought the car from Archway Ford.
Richard sold the car years later to Bill Puck of Arvada, Colorado, who brought this car to its first show, the Second Annual Shelby Owners Association (SOA) convention in Pennsylvania, in 1973. A year later, SFM-5S505 was sold to Dr. Wayne L. Harvey of Englewood, Colorado who drove and enjoyed this car until it was sold to Craig Sutherland of Kansas City, Missouri. It was sold to Ken Young of Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1983. Then Dave Cawthorne in San Diego bought and restored this car fitting it with a Cobra cast-iron bellhousing and R-model Shelby heads.
In 1997, Michael Cohen of Rye, New York bought the car and had it shipped back to the East Coast with the original Blue Dot spare tire and dealer plates. Craig Conley of Paradise Wheels, a well-known Shelby expert, believes this was when he saw this car for the first time. Paul Moyer, retired KNBC and KABC new anchor in Los Angeles, had Craig fly out to New York to examine SFM-5S505 nearly two decades ago. Craig confirmed the car’s condition and suggested Moyer buy the car. He considered SFM-5S505 a wise investment, though it did not have the original 289 High-Performance engine.
Craig remembered this car well. When he was in New York doing the pre-buy inspection, his son Andrew was born prematurely, making it necessary to return home to California. He took delivery of this car weeks later for Moyer. Craig’s detailed safety inspection unearthed a number of infractions that could have caused an accident so he spent time making the car safer. Moyer loved driving the car so much he considered doing a five-speed swap to make it more open road friendly. That never happened and 5S505 still has its original aluminum T-10 four-speed to this day.
Craig and Howard Pardee, Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) Registrar, enjoy an extraordinary friendship. “Howard and I stay in close touch about any Shelby Mustangs we happen to find to help keep the registry current,” Craig tells Mustang Monthly, “Howard called me and said he knew I was involved with Moyer’s G.T. 350. He received a call from a guy in South Texas at a Lamborghini dealership with a ’66 G.T. 350 and a Hi-Po engine he wanted to use in it. The VIN was still stamped in the block.”
“One previous owner of 5S505 pulled the engine with a plan to rebuild and found it would cost more than just finding another engine,” Craig reflects. How 5S505’s Hi-Po engine wound up in Texas is anyone’s guess. When Pardee contacted Craig about this engine it was a slam dunk decision. Craig contacted Moyer stressing the importance of having a numbers-matching Shelby. The engine was purchased and shipped to Craig’s shop for a reunion with 5S505. Then it was rebuilt and professionally detailed for installation. The odds of this engine ever being discovered and returned to its original G.T. 350 had to have been a billion to one, especially thousands of miles apart.
Craig said, “This guy in Texas calls Howard Pardee and tells him about the engine, which seems to be in the realm of Shelby American cars. When Howard took the Ford VIN and cross-referenced it to the Shelby American VIN of SFM-5S505 he called me to see if Moyer would be interested in having the car’s original Hi-Po engine back.” He added, “When I called Moyer to see if he’d like to have the original engine back, he seemed lukewarm about buying it back. He told me to have the guy send it to him. I had to explain the guy wasn’t going to just give it to him. It was for sale and at a price, and I also explained it would help resale value. He bought the engine for $7,500.”
“As the car sat with a replacement engine, it was probably worth $200,000, maybe $250,000 at the time,” Craig commented, “With the correct matching number engine that put at least an additional $25,000 premium on the selling price,” Craig told Mustang Monthly. “It was through the great efforts of Howard Pardee that this happened at all. It was through SAAC’s Shelby American factory records and Howard being able to connect both the Ford and Shelby VINs that we were able to bring engine and car together. Nobody but SAAC can do that.”
Craig tells us thanks to Howard Pardee he has managed to connect another five G.T. 350s and their engines in the years since. “Whenever I stumble upon a ‘K’ 289 High-Performance engine with a Mustang VIN, I contact Howard to see if it was originally in a Shelby Mustang. One out of ten engines winds up being a Shelby Mustang engine.” It is remarkable how many times this happens according to Craig, “One time I found an engine and Howard informed me the G.T. 350 owner lived in Canada. A guy here in Orange County finds a Hi-Po engine in a junk yard and puts the VIN out there. I wind up getting the engine, checking it out, making sure it is good, and shipping it up to Canada to the owner. It was a $100 junk engine on Craigslist out of Orange County!”
Craig cautions, however, that there are people out there stamping “K” VINS in blocks that are not Hi-Po engines. The goal is to fake these engines in order to make them more valuable. He stresses thoroughly inspecting an engine before you buy. If you are buying what appears to be a Shelby G.T. 350 or G.T. 500, check it over thoroughly and look to the Shelby American Automobile Club and Craig Conley for detailed information before you buy. It is important to remember a Hi-Po block sports the same Ford casting number (C5AE-6015-E) as a non Hi-Po block. The only difference is the main caps and connecting rod bolt size, and a Brinell hardness-tested crankshaft.
Craig stresses 289 Hi-Po blocks were hand-picked and sonic-checked at the factory for thicker cylinder walls and fitted with wider main caps. Some have very specific markings in their castings and cannot be faked. Another tool unsuspecting buyers have at their disposal are the casting date and engine assembly date codes. The block casting date is next to the Ford casting number above the starter on Hi-Po engines. Engine manufacture date codes were stamped in the block deck above the fuel pump and in the pan rail underneath.
Craig tells Mustang Monthly these cars were built in batches, which makes them easier to identify especially with SAAC’s vast database and communications system. Fakes are quickly spotted and documented. Body swaps (known as “rebodies”) are out there. This means looking for accurate sheet metal stamping date codes that jibe with vehicle assembly dates.
Moyer’s 5S505 Shelby G.T. 350 fastback was born to be great fun to drive with its Cobra-powered 289 High-Performance V-8 yielding at least 306 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. When you grab first gear and lean on the throttle, the car becomes a real old school hot rod—the sweet whine of first and second gear as you roar through the cogs. And because the G.T. 350 has side-exit race-style dual exhausts and glass pack mufflers, it is a genuine rush of speed from the 1960s.
1965 G.T. 350 Production Stats
Looking for detailed information on the ’65 Shelby G.T.3 50? There’s a terrific website out there known as www.1965gt350mustang.com that is loaded with in-depth information on Shelby’s first high-performance Mustang super car. Check it out.
|1||Street Prototype for 1965||003|
|11||Advanced Pre-Production Prototypes||004-014|
|3||Shelby Hi-Performance School cars||021.029.451|
|4||Drag Cars||207, 327, 351, 360|
|2||Prototypes for 1966 GT350||200, 319|
|1||Paxton Supercharger Prototype||425|
|2||Competition Prototypes-Factory||001, 002|
|504||Street Production Models (Including seven P.R., and six company cars)|
|34||Factory Competition Race Models|
|562||Total Production Run for the 1965 G.T. 350 Mustang|