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1965 Ford Mustang GT 350 - Rare Finds
The car poking out of the attached garage did not resemble a stock Mustang, let alone a Shelby. What was the strange drooping front end?
"Fiberfab," Randy DeLisio explained.
Today, putting a Fiberfab front end on a '65 Shelby would be like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa. Thirty years ago, however, a Shelby wasn't worth so much. The year was 1983 and DeLisio owned a shop called Super Stang in Clyde, New York. A man came in with a fastback he called, simply, his "'65 Mustang."
"He wanted me to make his Mustang better," DeLisio said. That included a Fiberfab front end and roll bar. At the time, DeLisio says, the car had no engine or interior, looking very much like these current pictures except for the addition of the Fiberfab front end.
In the early 1980s, DeLisio was a Shelby enthusiast and collector. Right away he noted the Shelby VIN (SFM5S304) and knew the car was one of just 562 G.T. 350s built in the first year of Shelby Mustang production.
DeLisio recalls that the owner, who we will call "Frank," was "hell bent" on making the modifications. "I tried to talk him out of doing that to a '65 Shelby," DeLisio says. "But he was the customer and the customer is always right. One reason I was negative on this was because I had to cut the two front aprons out of the car, plus the core support. I didn't feel it was wise to do that to a '65 Shelby. But he got what he wanted."
DeLisio recalls delivering the car to Frank's house. Apparently, the Shelby then sat in the garage for the next 29 years. But DeLisio never forgot about the '65 G.T. 350 with the Fiberfab front end. He hoped one day Frank would sell it to him. "Every two to three years I would make a point to visit and try to buy it. I assured him that I was serious about someday owning that car."
Almost three decades had elapsed since DeLisio installed the Fiberfab front end when the phone rang. "It was about 4:00 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon (September 2012), DeLisio says. "It was Frank."
A week later, DeLisio brought his checkbook to Frank's house and made a deal, then returned for the car in two weeks, enough time for Frank to round up the NOS parts scattered in the garage, basement, and house.
The owner of the G.T. 350 consented to an interview but did not want his name in the story. It was okay to use his first name, Frank. I wanted to hear about the history of this Shelby. Frank went back to February of 1966 when he bought the car.
He said, "I was looking for a car and it got my attention, especially after I test drove it."
Frank was married at the time and the ‘65 was his daily driver. He knew the Mustang was a Shelby. However, he admits he "didn't know what a Shelby was."
Later, Frank read about Shelby Mustang's in magazines and became an early member of the Shelby American Automobile Club. SAAC president Rick Kopec even sent Frank a picture of his car at Shelby American. In the photo, a man is painting a Cobra Daytona Coupe and off to the side is a white '65 G.T. 350. Attached to the inside of the windshield is a sheet of paper with the Shelby serial number of Frank's car.
Frank also learned that Eger Ford in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, (near Pittsburgh), sold the car new.
The trouble with the Shelby as a daily driver was the steep rear axle gears. The Detroit-Locker differential was not useful for daily driving but more for racing, especially drag racing. To make his Mustang more practical on the street, Frank installed a Hone overdrive unit in 1967 to lower the cruising rpm.
In the summer of 1966, Frank and his wife drove the G.T. 350 from Pittsburgh to Miami, a distance of about 1,200 miles. They made the trip in 19 hours back when there was no I-95. He recalls a speeding ticket thanks to the original side exhaust, which attracted the attention of a patrol officer. The car didn't have a radio. Frank said he preferred the sound of the 289 Hi-Po.
Carroll Shelby's G.T. 350 was built for men like Frank. He said he got used to the rough ride, stiff clutch, and solid-lifter engine. He grew to love the car. But when he decided to sell, he was sure of his decision. He didn't look back and today is looking to purchase either a new Boss 302 or Shelby G.T. 350.