We've got to tell you, we're passionate about new finds. We especially like those finds that the flat-bellied, big-chested experts swear don't exist. For example, just imagine a Shelby Mustang sporting anything but black interior. It doesn't seem possible, now does it? Yet in a desert landscape of snake-stung performance, such a Shelby exists--most would tell you the car doesn't exist. It's a '66 GT350 fastback with blue vinyl interior.
This story begins and ends with Jim Faline of Ohio, who wanted a Shelby so badly, he ran a want ad in our magazine back in 1988. He ran the ad, figuring it was a long shot. He received one call from John Snyder of Modesto, California, who knew someone who had a '66 GT350 for sale. John's description of the car made Jim nervous. It was a blue fastback with blue interior. To Jim, it seemed like a fake snake. He hauled out his copy of the Shelby American World Registry for a closer look at production facts. Much to his surprise, Shelby American built two '66 GT350 fastbacks with blue interior. John's call with the serial number confirmed the find, and Jim was northbound from his home in Phoenix (his home at the time) to retrieve the trophy.
As it turns out, No. SFM6S275 belonged to the original owner--who was fortunate enough to have purchased a factory demonstrator from Hayward Ford in suburban Oakland, California. What's more, Phil Remington--chief engineer for Shelby American at the time--put those first 600 miles on the odometer. After that, the Shelby was used mostly for commuting--ultimately taking a back seat to a Mercedes Benz that took up space in the garage. Selling the Shelby wasn't easy for the original owner. In fact, he screened several people before selling the car to Jim.
For years, Jim didn't have the heart to change much of anything about the car. It was original in every detail, but it needed a full-scale restoration to make it right again. In 1997 Jim tore apart the car and delivered it to Jim Cowles at Shelby Parts and Restoration in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Project coordinator Shane Whiting took complete charge of the project--rebuilding everything to exact detail, then professionally assembling the car. Details you might be tempted to believe are missing--such as the Le Mans stripes--were never there to begin with. Jim opted to restore the car to its original state--just as it looked when Phil Remington was roaring around Los Angeles in it in 1966.
Jim admits that he didn't restore the car just so it could sit in a garage and collect dust and cobwebs. He fires up the 306hp 289 every two weeks for a near religious experience and to get the oil warm and the exhaust plumbing dry.
Every year, he drives the GT350 to Brown County State Park for the annual Indiana SAAC Spring Fling. It's impossible for us to think about the Indiana SAAC Spring Fling without thinking about the late Steve Yates, who pioneered this event. Steve succumbed to cancer a few years back, but those of us who knew him remember why the Indiana SAAC Spring Fling still thrives today--because people have never forgotten Steve's commitment to the hobby and the event. Last spring, Jim drove his Shelby to the Spring Fling in the rain, because he couldn't imagine missing an event that has become a tradition for many.
Underhood is Ford's legendary Hi-Po, the mill that won SCCA B-production competition against Chevrolet's best. The Hi-Po produces 271 hp at 6,000 rpm out of the box. Carroll Shelby's people wove their best magic into the Hi-Po engine--with a more aggressive camshaft, a high-riser intake manifold, tri-Y headers, and plenty of spirit to achieve 306 hp. The result is an engine that excites the senses whenever the carb's butterflies are pinned open by a svelte stab at the throttle. In short, we can't imagine a better reason to have purchased a ride such as this Shelby.