The common conception is, imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that's truly the case, then Ol' Shel should be blushing Candyapple Red at the car that Reggie and Jenny Triggs of Alpharetta, Georgia, built. Now before you get the idea that we're saying clones are OK, look at the fender tag. There resides a huge NOT in place of the vaulted serial number. Reggie makes no bones about the fact that this car is a copy.
"I can't afford to buy a GT350 to restore, then afford to restore it, so I did the next best thing: I built my own," Reggie admitted. And besides, the best way to avoid confusion on the issue is to put the shiny new steed in these pages. The '65 fastback started life as serial no. 5F09A377507, and according to Reggie, the 2+2 was pretty ratty. He stripped the car and sent it over to Panoz Auto Development and let Rich King lay down the Wimbledon White topcoat and the Guardsman Blue stripes. Another stunning thing--when viewed in the larger scope of restorations--is, Reggie built the clone in the course of a year; not bad for a guy with a full-time job. Of course, he attributes this speed to the help of his wife, Jenny.
The clone looks and feels every bit a Shelby and more. Without the constraints of "restoration," the 289 was heaved over for a 302 with Trick Flow heads and Harland Sharp roller rocker arms. Instead of a roller cam, Reggie selected a stock Hi-Po grind that gives off that oh-so-sweet valve clatter and feeds spent fuel and air to a set of tri-Y headers. Behind the mean-sounding 302 is a Top Loader four-speed and a 3.50 open differential--the better to do a one-tire fire with. The interior is deceptively Shelby/stock-looking with the Shelby wood wheel, racing belts, and dash tach all in place. We say deceptive because Reggie had the seat covers dressed in leather, using the correct pattern for a '66. For added safety, he pulled the stock tank and dropped in a Fuel Safe fuel cell.
We saw the car for the first time at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Georgia, last year. Upon inspection, we found a very clean, well-thought-out GT350 clone. What stunned us most was, Reggie and Jenny drive the car to all the shows they attend, and it typically takes top honors in the shows. "We have to show in the modified class since the car isn't a real Shelby," said Reggie, "but that hasn't seemed to hurt us." Indeed, the car has garnered several First and Second Place awards in Mustang Club of America (MCA) competition as well as numerous awards at local shows. We said that imitation might be the highest form of flattery but a few "flattering" MCA awards don't hurt either.