First 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 Prototype Up for Grabs
It’s the most expensive Mustang in the world and was driven extensively by Ken Miles. Yes, that Ken Miles.
In July of last year, the Shelby GT350 “Ken Miles R-Model” Mustang Prototype sold for a hammer price of $3.5 million ($3.85 million with fees) at auction in Indianapolis, making it the most expensive Ford Mustang ever sold. For reasons unknown, the buyer has decided to flip it, and the iconic Mustang will be up for sale once again, this time at Mecum’s Kissimmee, Florida auction in January.
This GT350R broke the record for world’s priciest Mustang that had been set by the 1968 Ford Mustang GT driven by Steve McQueen in the film Bullitt. It has an incredible pedigree; a resume only topped by Carroll Shelby himself. And that history will undoubtedly result in the auction house raking in big bucks all over again. The only question is whether it will beat its own record this time.
The so-called “Flying Mustang,” so deemed for catching air in its first race, is widely considered the most historically significant Shelby Mustang ever made. Legends like Miles plus Bob Bondurant, Chuck Cantwell, Peter Brock, and Jerry Titus logged extensive miles on the muscle car and put their fingerprints on the development as well. As the first Shelby R-Model competition car built and the first Shelby Mustang to win a race, this is an extremely rare example.
“The image leapt from the pages of practically every enthusiast magazine in the country and spread through the motoring world like a stampede: a Wimbledon White Ford Mustang fastback, soaring over a rise at full song and clearing terra firma by a foot, a grinning Ken Miles at the reins,” Mecum says in its vehicle description. “Frozen in mid-flight, the first competition GT350 was on its way to sweeping the B Production races that day, proving to one and all the Mustang’s transformation—in the words of Hot Rod magazine—from a ‘gentle little colt into a roaring, snorting stallion.’”
After proving its value many times over, the 5R002 was sold to Ford Performance engineer Bill Clawson, who wrote a check for $4,000 and took it home. Clawson raced the Mustang with Ford’s blessing and support, meanwhile collecting an impressive collection of documentation and receipts that tell the car’s history.
Eventually, after a steady diet of heavy-duty racing weekends, the engine on the Mustang failed a couple of times, and Clawson asked his boss Ray Geddes for advice on replacing it. Geddes connected him to a contact in Brighton, Michigan who handed over a full racing-spec GT40 experimental engine.
Several times over, the car was sold to racers who pushed this Shelby even harder, it ended up in the hands of one Luis Blanq-Cacaux of Monterrey, Mexico in 1970. Blanq-Cacaux competed in 5R002 for two years at events like the Mexican Trans Am series and Mexico 1000. Then he slapped a coat of gray primer on it and left it to rot in a yard, where it sat until it was discovered in 1989.
From there, the iconic Mustang spent 14 years on display at the Shelby American Museum in Boulder, Colorado, in “as found” condition. Finally restored to 1965 condition after four painstaking years with John Brown of Thoroughbred Restorations in Oklahoma, the car re-emerged at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours, where it won best in class. Chuck Cantwell, the original project engineer, drove it to the podium.
While most of us don't have access to $4 million to buy it ourselves, it's going to be exciting to watch the numbers tick up in January. Console yourself with the knowledge that all of these years later, the Mustang lives on.
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