Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
May 13, 2011
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

It’s widely known that Shelby American offered its first-year ’65 GT350s in one color combination only--Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue stripes. For 1966, Ford wanted Shelby to sell more than the 562 built for ’65, so the car’s appeal was broadened by a number of changes, including the expansion of the color lineup to include Candy Apple Red, Sapphire Blue (a Continental/Thunderbird color), Ivy Green, and Raven Black (for Hertz) in addition to Wimbledon White. It obviously helped, with Shelby selling more than four times as many ’66 GT350s as ’65 models.

So it’s no surprise that Shelby American is sticking with tradition by adding more colors to its second year offering of its new GT350, which debuted for ’11 in white-with-blue only. For ’12, the GT350 is available in two new colors--Race Red and Kona Blue, both with white LeMans and side stripes, in addition to Performance White with blue stripes.

Last year, we brought back the GT350 45 years after it was launched, said Carroll Shelby. They look and sound just like the ones we built in 1965. We’re repeating history by offering two additional colors for the second year of production.

Also well-known by Shelby aficionados is the fact that Shelby American built four GT350 convertibles for 1966 (see The Original ’66 Convertibles sidebar). That gives Shelby American an ideal reason to once again offer a GT350 convertible for ’12. As Shelby American President John Luft notes, it’s the first GT350 convertible since 1970.

We’re ramping up production to meet the expected demand, said Luft, although our plan is to only build 350 GT350s for the ’12 model year to maintain exclusivity and future collectibility.

Like ’11, the ’12 Shelby GT350 is a post-title program based on the Mustang GT and its 412-horsepower 5.0-liter engine. Buyers purchase the Mustang from their favorite Ford dealer, basing the order on Shelby American’s specifications, then it’s drop-shopped (Ford order code 99wkh7) to the Shelby headquarters in Las Vegas for the upfit to a GT350. Buyers can choose 430 hp normally-aspirated, 525 hp supercharged, or a specially-tuned supercharged version for 624 hp, which voids the drivetrain warranty. Supercharged cars come with the sixspeed manual only while naturally-aspirated GT350s are available with either the manual or the six-speed automatic.

Essentially, the ’12 GT350 package is the same as the ’11. The car goes into Shelby American as a Mustang GT and comes out the other side as a GT350 with a unique front fascia and hood, performance suspension, Baer front brakes, center-exit Borla exhaust, 19-inch Cragar wheels with Goodyear performance tires, and plenty of Shelby GT350 logos and badging.

When it comes to performance of the current generation GT350, our team did a great job right out of the gate, quipped Gary Patterson, vice president of operations at Shelby American. The GT350 leaves its mark on the street that says a Shelby was here.’ That’s why we’re packing the ’12 model with the same performance as the ’11 Shelbys.

Obviously, convertibles and red or blue cars are all ’12 models, but if you want to tell the difference between white coupes, look at the grille. The ’11s have a molding similar to the ’65 GT350; for ’12, the molding is eliminated.

The Shelby GT350 post-title package starts at $26,995 (normally aspirated) and $33,995 (supercharged). Add in the price of the base car and you’re looking at close to $60,000 for a normally-aspirated GT350 coupe or well over $70,000 for a nicely-equipped, supercharged version. Like the 1960s, Shelby Mustangs aren’t for everyone, nor can everyone afford one. But those are just a couple of the reasons why Shelbys have become so special over the years.

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