Jim Smart
March 1, 2009

Because the cars from Shelby American have always been desirable rides, their biographies are as varied as their original owners. Shelby Mustangs and two-seat Cobras corralled buyers from all walks of life, from the blue-collar middle class to the affluent. However, Dave Steine's '65 Shelby GT350 isn't your typical rural Wisconsin Slippery's Tavern big fish story.

Shelby American scheduled this GT350 for delivery via air freight to Romy Hammes Ford in South Bend, Indiana. Based on what we know about Trans World Airlines in 1965, Dave's GT350 was loaded onto a Boeing 707-331F freighter at the Los Angeles International Airport and jetted across the continent. That's quite a distinction when you consider how many Mustangs were shipped via rail and truck.

After this GT350 was delivered to the dealership, the buyer backed out of the deal. The TWA pilot who flew the car from Los Angeles to Indiana got word of this turn of events and decided to buy the car from Hi-Performance Motors, Shelby's own dealership in Southern California. So the car was air freighted back to Los Angeles for delivery to the pilot.

Where most Shelby Mustangs were thrashed and trashed on road courses and isolated stretches of highway, this one enjoyed 20 years of meticulous care until it was sold to Jim Bridges in--ironically--Shelby, North Carolina. It was there this car sat in a climate-controlled environment for another 22 years. Dave Steine eventually bought the GT350 from another highly respected Ford collector, Jacky Jones.

Ordinarily, this would be the part of the story where we tell you how this car was restored. However, Dave's '65 GT350 is factory original, right down to the Goodyear Blue Dot tires, with only 28,000 miles on the odometer. Also, it remains as delivered new--without the optional over-the-top LeMans stripes or Cragar-made Shelby five-spoke wheels that we see on most '65 GT350s today.

The GT350 was born of Ford's interest in giving the Mustang a bolder performance image--and Carroll Shelby was at the right place at the right time. Shelby understood what you could do with a small-block Ford because he had already done it with the two-seater Cobra. However, the Mustang's Falcon-based platform had yet to be proven in competition. First, the Mustang had to be recognized as a sports car in order to compete in Sports Car Club of America competition. This would not be an easy feat. According to the Shelby American Automobile Club, the SCCA was not going to be easily manipulated by Shelby or Ford. Carroll Shelby had to exercise some of his Texas charm on John Bishop, then Executive Director of the SCCA. Bishop advised Shelby that the car would have to be a two-seater. It could have a modified suspension or a hopped up engine, but not both. And Shelby American would have to build at least 100 of them.

In August 1964, Shelby returned to his Venice, California, facility to get with his best talent on how to make this happen. If Shelby American was going to build 100 specially modified Mustangs, it was going to have to happen by January 1965 if they were going to compete during the 1965 racing season. Shelby would have to build two models--one for street and one for competition. Street and race versions had the same suspension and braking systems to keep things simple. Aside from a Cobra high-rise intake and tubular exhaust headers, street versions had stock 289 High Performance V-8s with a 90-day warranty from Ford. Competition versions came with full-boogie racing engines.

It was Shelby American's Ken Miles who developed the Mustang into both a street and competition car. Miles did a tremendous amount of research to see what he could find in the Ford parts bin that would technically be a factory part. For example, he discovered a sturdy, one-piece cowl-to-shock-tower brace that was used on export Mustangs. Today, it's well-known as the "export brace."

Two Wimbledon White '65 Mustang hardtops were used primarily as chassis development mules. Two fastbacks were handed over to Pete Brock, also for development purposes. Brock's job was to give the Shelby Mustang a persona people would immediately recognize, yet be simple in scope. He experimented with stripes, both LeMans and side stripes.

When Brock was experimenting with visual effects, the subject of a name came up. It came down to a question that rolled right off the top of Carroll Shelby's head. He looked at Phil Remington and asked him what he thought the distance was between the race and production shops. Remington responded, "Around 350 feet..." With that, Shelby announced the car would be called the GT350.

Once Shelby American got the modifications dialed in, it was time to order around 100 of them from Ford's San Jose assembly plant in order to meet the SCCA's homologation requirements. These were special order units without hoods, rear seats, radios, and exhaust systems. San Jose would build approximately 110 cars in two days for Shelby American. Roughly 95 would be street units while 15 others would become race cars.

Dave Steine's '65 GT350, No. SFM5S520, was delivered to Shelby American's Los Angeles Airport facility on June 16, 1965 and completed two weeks later on June 30. The car would travel thousands of miles by air and truck before it wound up in the hands of James Philpott of Southern California, who enjoyed the car for decades before selling it to Jim Bridges in 1985. The car survives as a factory original thanks to a carefully orchestrated chain of committed owners. Dave is only the latest in a coveted lineup of stewards to have had the good fortune of caring for such an authentic factory original.

This is a real driver's GT350 with a 306-horse 289 High Performance V-8, aluminum T-10 four-speed, and 3.89:1 Detroit Locker gears. Those Goodyear Blue Dots aren't reproductions; they are the real thing in the interest of authenticity. Don't expect Dave to be cutting apexes with them anytime soon because this car is never driven. It will remain what it has always been--a rolling museum piece and a great tribute to Shelby's enduring legacy.

'65 Shelby GT350 Production
Street Prototype1
Street Production Units521
Drag Cars4
Competition Prototypes2
Competition Production Units34
Total562
Information Courtesy
Shelby American Automobile Club

Did You Know?

  • The first completed '65 GT350 street prototype was No. SFM5S003, the third GT350 built. First two units were competition prototypes.
  • The two Shelby chassis-engineering mules were hardtops, not fastbacks.
  • Aside from suspension modifications and a Cobra high-rise intake manifold, '65 GT350s weren't mechanically modified in any other way. Trunk-mounted batteries were installed in No. 001 through No. 324 plus all competition models.
  • Shelby vehicle identification numbers changed beginning with car No. 31, which is when Shelby added "Street" or "Race" designations to the VINs.
  • Approximately 100 cars were fitted with the 16-inch Cobra steering wheel. When it was discovered the 16-inch wheel interfered with the legs of some drivers, Shelby went to a 15-inch Cobra steering wheel.
  • GT350 production began at Shelby's Venice, California facility and continued there for approximately the first 250 units. After that, production was moved to airplane hangars on Imperial Highway at the Los Angeles International Airport in March 1965.
  • Not all '65 GT350s had side exit exhaust systems. Some states mandated rear valance exhaust systems. Some 14 units were built this way.
  • Tach and oil pressure gauge pods were fiberglass on early cars, then ABS plastic later on.
  • Fiberglass hoods varied throughout production. Originally, the all-fiberglass construction evolved to a steel frame with fiberglass skin.
  • LeMans stripes were optional. Not all GT350s had them.
  • Argent painted steel wheels were standard. Shelby Cragar wheels were optional.
  • Standard rear axle ratio was 3.89:1. Anything else was dealer installed.