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1965 Shelby GT350 - Snake On A Plane
Dave Steine's '65 Shelby GT350 Was Originally Shipped Via Air Freight-Twice!
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."