We were not surprised that Shelby and Unique Performance picked the R-Model GT350 as their next continuation car. The GT500E (Eleanor) has been a stunning success; otherwise, there would not have been a grand opening to attend. Unique Performance's new plant, called the Texas Shelby GT500E Continuation Facility, is 30,000 square feet, located in an industrial complex off I-35 north of Dallas.
Fordophiles who would question the "Shelbyness" of the current continuation series should think back. The '68-and-later Shelby Mustangs were built at the A.O. Smith Company in Ionia, Michigan, but were still authentic Shelbys.
Original R-Models can fetch a quarter of a million dollars. The "estimated investment" is $93,000 for the continuation GT350SR.
Many of the street GT350 models were turned into racing models by their owners, yet there will always be a distinction. Each Competition model had an "R" in its Shelby VIN, hand-stamped into an aluminum manufacturer's plate and pop-riveted to the driver-side inner fender panel over the Ford VIN. You could expect no less from the continuation model. All cars are numbered. The R, for Race, has become so popular with collectors that this time around the R has become part of the name. The adjoining S in SR stands for Street. Thus, SR stands for Street or Race.
Our first question, upon realizing the car was not a clone of the illustrious racer, was: "Will the SR get around a race course faster than an original R-model?"
There were two people in the room who should know: Shop Manager Dave Reed and General Manager Bobby Mikus.
"It would blow the doors smooth off it, no contest," Dave blurted out.
"Well, would you like to take one on? I mean an original 1965 GT350 Competition, if we could find a willing participant?"
"Yes sir, I sure would. I would bet my paycheck on it. Print that."
Mikus concurred, although he didn't offer to wager his paycheck on the outcome. Obviously, the two have pride in their work. We turned to Scott Black, the PR guy for the project, who was also in the room.
"Scott, why don't we throw down the gauntlet?"
"Where is the SAAC convention next year?" he asked.
The contemporary SR takes advantage of the latest technology, and thus should be much faster around a road course. Look at the specifications, starting with the standard 410hp 347 and the Tremec five-speed. Under the hood of the prototype is an optional 408, based on the 351, pumping out 475 horses.
An SR against an R-model, continuation versus vintage, would make a great match-up. Whether the course will be twisty or have long stretches, and whether the SR will have the 347 or 408, remains to be determined. If you want to encourage such a race or have any questions about this newest continuation Shelby, contact the folks at Unique Performance, 800/418-4543.
'65 Shelby GT350SR SpecificationsGeneral Specifications* Shelby 347ci engine, 410 hp* Tremec T5 five-speed transmission* Holley 650 double-pumper carburetor* Aluminum driveshaft* Griffin radiator* JBA/Shelby tuned side exhaust system* Hurricane A/C system* Fuel Safe tank, 16 gallons* 8-quart oil system* Canton road-course oil pan* Currie 9-inch differential with Posi-traction* 3.89:1 gears* 31-spline axles
Interior* Shelby performance racing seats (leather upgrade)* LeCarra 15-inch wooden steering wheel* Custom JME/Shelby gauges* 160-mph speedometer* 2-inch rollbar assembly, 4-point w/horizontal bar* Seatbelt (4-point upgrade)* Eclipse radio with four speakers* Omega GPS tracking system
Exterior* Side quarter glass (upgrade)* Rear OEM glass (R glass upgrade)* Racing side mirrors* Wheels: Front 235x15; rear 255 Goodyear Eagle II on R-styled wheels* R-styled nose, hood, and side scoops
Suspension* Total Control front and (optional) rear suspension* Total Control subframe connectors* Power rack-and-pinion* KYB gas shocks* Shelby traction bars* Four-wheel disc Baer brakes