Eric English
June 29, 2011

For example, the steering wheel isn't original to the car, but is a period wood Shelby/Secura over-the-counter unit that is far more attractive than the standard Shelby simulated wood piece. The rear seat delete shelf is inspired by the '65 GT350 playbook, but perhaps the best deviation from stock involves the billiard ball-topped Hurst shifter protruding from the trans tunnel. We all know that a high percentage of Hertz GT350s came equipped with a C4 automatic, and this one (SFM6S835) was no different as delivered. Interestingly, an owner prior to Wahl swapped in the wide-ratio Top Loader that still does duty today, now augmented by a Centerforce clutch and pressure plate combination.

Under the hood, the scene isn't far from circa 1966, which in the case of a Shelby, is hardly a bad thing. Sharp eyes will detect the valve cover spacers which allow Crane roller rockers to lift oversized 1.94/1.60 valves in ported Hi-Po 289 iron castings. Likewise, they may note the 715-cfm Holley that was standard issue on four-speed '66 GT350s, rather than the 460-cfm Autolite four-barrel that was common to most automatic cars. The matching numbers motor also sports forged pistons and a healthy Crane solid lifter cam, but bucks the stroker trend with a true 289 cubes plus 0.030.

Now, the car would be faster with a long-stroke, large displacement engine, but keep in mind the favorable weight of a vintage machine like this. Wahl says his '66 tips the scales at just shy of 2,900 pounds, which is close to 1,000 pounds lighter than the V-8 offerings of the current S197 Mustang generation. The comparative flyweight goes a long way in helping understand that a healthy 289 can still be plenty of fun in a properly prepped vintage chassis.

Speaking of chassis, Wahl has enhanced the road-race-inspired Shelby setup with select components from Global West, Koni, and others. Of course, these days it's all in the name of an enhanced driving experience, rather than pushing the envelope of ultimate speed. Wahl surely relishes spirited time behind the wheel, but maturity and economic considerations banish any boy racer antics to years past. The decades since the influential Motor Trend story have seen the GT350 morph from "cheap thrill" into an icon of a golden era, demanding a level of respect and care that was unimaginable in 1974. Wahl has been along the entire time, and it continues to be a great ride.

The matching numbers motor also sports forged pistons and a healthy Crane solid lifter cam, but bucks the stroker trend with a true 289 cubes plus 0.030

The Details


Scott Wahl's '66 Shelby GT350H

Engine

  • Original Hi-Po 289, Hi-Po 289 crank, Hi-Po 289 rods (polished), TRW forged pistons
  • 4.030-inch bore
  • 2.87-inch stroke
  • Original Hi-Po 289 heads (ported), Manley 1.94-inch intake/1.60-inch exhaust valves
  • Crane solid flat tappet cam, Crane 1.6:1 roller rockers
  • 715-cfm Holley four-barrel
  • Original Shelby aluminum high-rise intake
  • Original Hi-Po 289 dual-point distributor

Exhaust

  • Tri-Y headers, metallic ceramic coated
  • Flowmaster 50-series mufflers
  • 2-1/2-inch mid and tailpipes

Transmission

  • Wide ratio Top Loader four-speed
  • Centerforce clutch and pressure plate
  • Hurst shifter

Rearend

  • Original 9-inch housing
  • 28-spline axles
  • Detroit Locker differential, 3.50 gears

Suspension

  • Front: Global West tubular upper and lower control arms, 620-lb/in springs, Koni shocks, 1-1/8-inch Quickor swaybar, Shelby quick steer pitman and idler arms
  • Rear: 4-1/2 leaf reverse eye Magna springs, Koni shocks, Original Shelby override traction bars

Brakes

  • Front: Original 11.3-inch discs, Kelsey Hayes four-piston calipers
  • Rear: Original Shelby/Galaxie 2-1/2-inch drums

Wheels

  • Front: Vintage Wheel Works V45, 16x8-inch
  • Rear: Vintage Wheel Works V45, 16x8-inch

Tires

  • Front: BFG g-Force Sport, P225/50R16
  • Rear: BFG g-Force Sport, P255/50R16

Interior

  • Black standard interior with period
  • Secura wood steering wheel, '65 Shelby rear seat delete shelf

Exterior

  • R-model front apron, Porsche Guards Red single-stage Delstar by Kelly Taylor Restoration

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