Most Expensive Mustang: First Shelby GT350R Sold For $3.85 Million
It’s no surprise this car sold for millions. It was the first Shelby R-Model competition car built. The first Shelby Mustang to win a race. The Shelby American Factory team car and engineering test mule. The most historically significant Shelby Mustang in the world. The car sold for $3.5 million at the Mecum Indy auction over the weekend.
It was driven by legends like Ken Miles, Bob Bondurant, Chuck Cantwell, Peter Brock, and Jerry Titus. This was the car that was used to develop and implement the new and improved designs, ideas, and components on Shelby’s second R-Model team car (5R001) and the 34 customer R-Models.
It was recognized as the “Flying Mustang,” and the first Shelby GT350 “R-Model” ranks not only as the most historically important Shelby Mustang in the world, but it arguably also the most important Mustang in the history of the marque.
This was the car that was Shelby’s answer to Ford’s desire to create a high-performance image for the Mustang. It would transform the public’s perception of the Mustang as a “secretary’s car.” The creator of the all-conquering Cobra produced a machine designed not only to qualify for SCCA Production Sports Car competition but also to thoroughly dominate it. In doing so, Shelby and his crew created a blueprint for Mustang performance, which is followed to this day by Mustang enthusiasts around the world.
As the first competition Shelby Mustang, it was the first to be raced and the first to win. In the film “$1,000,000 Mustang,” Carroll Shelby states that “Ken Miles and Chuck Cantwell drove 50,000 miles in the test mule Mustang” (5R002).
Mecum states that according to the factory invoice included in the car’s documentation, on March 31, 1966, Shelby American sold 5R002 for $4,000 as a “test car – as is” to Bill Clawson of Dearborn, Michigan, an engineer in the Ford Performance Division in Dearborn.
Clawson sold the car in 1968 to Texans Dale Wood and Russell Fish, who dominated the SCCA Southwest Division winning nearly every race. In 1970, Luis Blanq-Cacaux of Monterrey, Mexico purchased 5R002 for $3,500 and another $350 for the open-wheel transport trailer that then carried it. Blanq-Cacaux raced the car in the Mexican Trans-Am series. He campaigned 5R002 for two years before parking it after painting it with gray primer where it sat until it was discovered by Mark Gillette of Dallas in 1989.
Gillette immediately purchased and returned the car to the U.S., subsequently selling it to his business partner, Rick Nagel, who then sold it to Steve Volk, who displayed 5R002 at the Shelby American Museum in Boulder, Colorado, in “as found” condition where it was displayed for 14 years.
In 2010, Shelby collector John Atzbach purchased the car, still in as-found condition. Atzbach then had the car restored to its original racing configuration which took four years.
The restored 5R002 debuted at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours on the occasion of the Mustang’s 50th anniversary. There, Chuck Cantwell, the original GT350 project engineer who had driven it to one of its first-class wins as a Shelby team car, drove it to the podium to receive the Best in Class Award for its division.
Thanks to 5R002’s success, Ford’s revolutionary “Pony Car” enthusiasm grew into what we know today.