Jim Smart
May 1, 2008
Photos By: William Harvey

Some purists might view this GT350 as sacrilegious-a twin Paxton restomod fastback sporting screaming small-block power well beyond anything Mr. Shelby envisioned 42 years ago. However, this is a GT350 that takes Carroll's vision a step further-a Shelby Mustang rocket hell-bent on challenging one's driving skills. It demonstrates that rewards are there for those bold enough to go where few Shelby enthusiasts have ever gone before. The logic is, you should never modify a historic artifact like a Shelby GT350.

Dave Heald broke all the rules-and wrote a few of his own.

Rule 1: It's OK to modify a Shelby Mustang if modifications can be reversed.
Rule 2: You only go around once in life (OK, so we swiped it from a classic beer commercial); make the most of it.
Rule 3: Apologize to no one; have fun.
Rule 4: Fill it up with 110-octane racing gas.
Rule 5: Please fasten your seatbelts.

When Dave found his GT350, it was complete but in pieces seeking a buyer. It was a numbers-matching Shelby ride that still had its original 289 Hi-Po engine, Top Loader four-speed, and 9-inch rearend with Detroit Locker. Even the original steering wheel was still there. It was an unbeatable deal at a time when good finds were thought to be all gone.

Dave wanted a high-end concours restoration; then he'd put the Shelby away for safekeeping as a good investment. He understood the value of putting the car away for a rainy day, but the desire to drive and enjoy the car overwhelmed him. What to do? First, he honored the car with a 100-point restoration by Paul's Automotive Engineering in Cincinnati, Ohio, based on Paul's 20-year reputation as a high-end Shelby restorer. If you study the details closely, Paul's did a magnificent job. Not one detail was overlooked.

Dave and Paul's Automotive decided to keep modifications hidden to where the car's original character wouldn't be lost. Externally, buried beneath Paxton power, this looks like a 289 High Performance V-8-right down to the open-letter Cobra valve covers and 8V induction. Because Dave didn't want to risk the Shelby's original matching-number 289 block and heads, he elected to build a new 363ci small-block from scratch. That called for a fresh aluminum block from Ford Racing Performance Parts and a Dominator stroker kit from Coast High Performance. Wanting to stuff as much displacement as he could into his blown small-block, Dave opted for Ross 4.125-inch custom pistons with a dish, yielding 9.5:1 compression. Ross slugs ride on Probe 4340 H-beam rods and a 4340 steel crank, all of it dynamic-balanced at Paul's Automotive for smoothness.

When you build a stroker small-block like this one, you can't think of it as a 289 or 302 anymore; you have to treat it like a 351. That's why Dave went with ported Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads with 2.02/1.60-inch Ferrea stainless valves along with an aggressive Trick Flow hydraulic roller camshaft. It takes a lot of know-how to package the twin superchargers. Each 450-cfm Holley 1850 carburetor has its own period Paxton supercharger, which calls for precision tuning and a lot of common sense. You may look at the Autolite dual-point distributor and scratch your head, but don't. Paul upgraded the Autolite sparker with a Pertronix Ignitor II ignition upgrade, which gives Dave all the benefits of modern electronic ignition while keeping the OEM distributor. You've got to love the car's engine room because it's such a well-integrated combination of nostalgia and current technology. And aside from the hidden Pertronix Ignitor, it sports speed-performance elements from the '60s.

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