July 1, 2013

Shelby 5R002, a G.T. 350 Mustang that was the first in a series of Mustang race cars built by legendary car builder Carroll Shelby, is being restored to its original condition in time for the 50-year anniversary of the Mustang in 2014.

As Ford had enlisted Shelby to build a performance Mustang to race in the B/production class of the Sports Car Club of America to enhance the public image of its newly launched Mustang, the Shelby Mustang 5R002 did its job, racking up First- or Second-place finishes in at least 14 races, including its debut in Green Valley, Texas, on February 14, 1965, when it was driven to victory by the legendary Ken Miles.

Additionally, the Mustang was featured in the film Shelby Goes Racing with Ford, it graced the cover of a 1965 issue of Road and Track magazine, and was featured in other automotive magazines of the day.

"This car was a race car with a very significant race history," said John Atzbach, who now owns 5R002. "Its success on the racetrack not only helped Shelby to sell thousands of Shelby Mustangs, but more importantly, it helped Ford to sell literally millions of Mustangs."

During its time in the hands of Shelby American, 5R002 was used extensively as the factory’s engineering prototype to test various components and setups for subsequent G.T. 350 R-models. Later, it was campaigned by Bill Clawson of Dearborn, Michigan, from 1966-1967, before being driven to the Southwest Divisional Championship by its then new owner Russell Fish, of San Antonio, Texas, in 1969.

In 1970, it was sold to Luis Blanq-Cacaux of Monterrey, Mexico, who raced it very successfully for two years in the Mexican Trans-Am and also the Mexico 1000 with Gerardo Martinez. It was then parked for almost 20 years before being found and returned to the U.S. by Mark Gillette of Dallas, Texas, in 1989. From there, it resided in the Shelby American Collection museum in Boulder, Colorado, for several years before being purchased by Atzbach in 2010.

Atzbach enlisted Thoroughbred Restorations in Piedmont, Oklahoma, to perform the restoration, and shop owner John Brown began disassembling the car while painstakingly documenting every part. A website has been created at www.w3.org to document the restoration process and includes video and photos of the project.