By Andrew Newton
The Mustang was introduced as a way to get into high performance and good looks at an attractive price. That’s still part of the Mustang’s appeal half a century later, whether you’re shopping for a brand new car or a weekend classic, and there are always plenty to choose from because somewhere near 10 million (and counting) of them have been built. Even so, there’s certainly exclusivity and high prices to be found in the Mustang world. Special editions, performance packages, rare options and racing pedigree are all factors that get collectors’ attention and drive prices up. One word, though, stands above all others for Mustang enthusiasts, and that word is Shelby. That all but one of the cars on this list of the most expensive Mustangs to sell at auction is a Shelby shows the value placed on the name by collectors, and the one car that isn’t a genuine Shelby was actually modified to look like a GT500.
The GT500 was the first big-block Shelby Mustang, powered by a 428 cubic-inch modified Police Interceptor engine. The Super Snake, however, was like no other GT500 and indeed no other Mustang. In preparation for a high-speed test/promotion for Goodyear, Shelby American took a normal production GT500 and fitted it with a 427 that was essentially the same as the one in the GT40 that had just won Le Mans and made 600 hp. After completing the run for Goodyear, there were hopes of building a limited run of 50 Super Snakes, but the car was deemed too expensive and this remained the only one. And when there’s only one of something, especially a ludicrously fast car like a 600-hp ’67 Mustang built by Shelby American, people tend to want it. Picking one “ultimate Mustang” is a near impossible choice, but this car is certainly in the running as reflected by the record price.
Movie cars are proven moneymakers at auction, and this car is a prime example. One of about a dozen identical cars built for the 2000 film Gone In 60 Seconds, it’s not originally a GT500 but a heavily modified ’67 fastback with a 351/400hp crate motor, lowered suspension and lots of bodywork. There have been lots of recreations of the silver and black car, but this particular one was an actual movie vehicle apparently used for many of the close-up shots in the film. Even the auctioneers at Mecum were surprised at the result, as it sold for way over the pre-sale estimate. As for that seven-figure final price, most of that money was for the car’s screen time. Otherwise, it was just a handsome resto-mod, but the movie stardom made it the second most expensive Mustang result.
The GT350 R was, naturally, the racing version of the original Shelby Mustang, the GT350. It was lighter and more powerful than the road car, was very successful in SCCA racing and just 33 or 34 of them were built. Those are the kind of characteristics that make a car collectible today, and this one had the bonus of 4,900 original miles on its original engine and transmission, even though its race history isn’t exceptional.
Although it brought a similar price, this GT350 R is actually quite a bit more successful than the example that RM sold in 2012. While the GT350 R was already a blistering car right out of the box from Shelby, this one was improved even further by racer Charlie Kemp, who bought it in late 1967 after it had already won an SCCA regional championship. He and mechanic Pete Hood removed weight, added power and tweaked handling until it was quick enough to beat not just everything in the SCCA’s B-Production class but even many A-Production cars. Through 1971, it won 32 out of 54 races entered, set several lap records, and was clocked at 184 mph at Daytona. RM billed it as the “Winningest Shelby,” and it was a moniker that had the bids flying in.
All of the original GT350 Rs were delivered in white with blue stripes, but this one was repainted with red and green stripes by a privateer from Mexico City. Even before that it had already scored a glorious win with Mexican driver Pedro Rodriguez. At a race in Smithfield, Texas, in 1966, Rodriguez stepped up to drive the car after the original driver backed out, and he easily beat a factory GT350 R and a competition-spec 289 Cobra in the process. The car then won a regional title in the SCCA in 1966, ran first in class at Daytona in 1967 before retiring with a blown engine, and then scored a class win at Sebring. It even won the 1967 B-Production run-offs. It has since been regularly raced in historic events and looks it, making it ideal for more track time rather than the concours lawn.
Return of the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
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