Estate Sale Find: 1965 Shelby GT350 Paxton Prototype?

The other day, my buddy Sid called me up to tell me about a 1965 Shelby GT350R that was being sold off by a local auction company. We both had our doubts but after closer inspection, I’m starting to wonder if it might be the real deal. And that’s a big deal because there were only 36 built and one of the prototypes just sold for $3.85 million! So, this one deserves a closer look.

The “R” was basically a race car version of Shelby’s GT350. It featured suspension, cooling, and engine upgrades. R-cars were also lightened with plexiglass windows and a gutted interior. These were meant to be raced and it’s probably safe to assume that they all saw track time. This could have been one of those or it might have just been a regular GT350…

A regular GT350 with a supercharger! This particular car has cutouts in the front where a Paxton supercharger was allegedly mounted (see little red arrow). There were two prototypes built with superchargers in ’65 and one of them just sold for $880k. If you compare the photos, you’ll see where the same cut was made for an airbox.

This car was part of a collection of parts and vehicles that were being sold off to settle a divorce. The owner-operated a paint and body shop and had owned the car for a couple of decades. It has obviously been resprayed but the original fiberglass hood and front valance are with the car. Notice the cutout in the center of the dash for a tach.

Unfortunately, most of the Shelby specific parts are long gone. There are a lot of holes where everything went though (marked with stick-it notes) and that’s about all the proof there is that this was once a GT350. The seller claims that a previous owner pulled off all the Shelby stuff and stuck it on another car…

That means there could be a fake running around with this car’s tags. The story does seem plausible and someone did go to a lot of work cutting all those holes… Then again, this might just be a clone. What do you think – is this a real deal Shelby GT350? If so, could it be a rare “R” or even a Paxton prototype?

 

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Did the car sell and was it ever documented?

    Like 11
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      It didn’t meet reserve and there isn’t any documentation.

      Like 11
  2. STEVE WALLIN

    Was the VIN tag still under the hood or was that missing too?

    Like 13
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      There’s a ’65 vin and title but like I said, the inner fender was supposedly swapped at some point.

      Like 6
      • Gord

        The VIN was also stamped on the right inner fender but hidden under the fender. Unless the whole front clip was changed this would be visible by removing or loosing the fender.

        Like 2
  3. UK Paul UK

    Intriguing!
    This might be impossible to prove without the vin?

    Like 17
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Right. That’s the problem.

      Like 6
      • walt

        So what would happen if u found the correct VIN # somewhere else on the car? Then there would be 2 with same VIN #, that wouldn’t be good & then what happens?

        Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey

        Walt,

        If it is found to be a VIN that matches the other VIN, then it’s clear to the authorities that a crime has been committed. Both owners of said vehicles will be asked [or ordered if they are not cooperative] to present their vehicle for inspection.

        Most states have the ability to uncover what happened, either in-house or by the use of an independent forensic mechanic [I did it for 30+ years].It IS possible to discover what was done to a car body, it just take some time.

        I had a case where a stolen Range Rover had all it’s hidden VIN stamps removed or covered over. We were able to match the vehicle to a reported stolen one when we detached the positive battery cable, then attached it again. The radio didn’t work, so I was told to use the radio pre-set buttons to input a 4-digit code, and the radio came on. The code was for the vehicle that had been stolen.

        I was involved in a Ford product case where a pair of front inner fenders were matching, but didn’t match the rear numbers. What the owner had looked at was the factory welds were not drilled out & filled. What I checked was the location & spacing of the factory welds for both the inner fenders and the firewall. The weld points on the fenders didn’t match the weld points on the firewall.

        Turned out the inner fenders had been epoxied to the firewall. The car in question had never been a Hi-Po 428 block car, instead, the entire front section was epoxied in place. The epoxied-in-place parts included the frame rails running under the front floor pans as well.

        I’ve always wondered what might have happened if the car’s owner had taken it to a drag strip to see what the car could have done. I suspect the result of unleashing that huge engine would have split the entire front of the car off the main body shell, leaving the center of the car scraping along the concrete.

        Like 34
      • Mike

        Bill McCoskey – We need more stories please! Very interesting.

        Like 17
      • SSPBill

        Agreed. Bill McCoskey needs to share more stores! I once met a man in the same line of work, unfortunately at my front door accompanied by a police officer. I unknowingly sold a car to someone who only was interested in the VIN. Thankfully they were satisfied I wasn’t on the inside. I met the man a year or so later and he said he used an etching technique to uncover the original VIN underneath the false one. Cool stuff.

        Like 4
      • Bill McCoskey

        SSPBill and Mike,

        Here’s another interesting tidbit:

        One thing that most people don’t know is the ability of law enforcement to recover the original serial numbers from cast iron.

        The bad guys have been known to carefully mill off a layer of cast iron where the number is stamped into an engine block or transmission case. Then they use the same font/size punches to stamp new numbers that usually “matched” the VIN on the car, or matched certain factory records offered by the seller.

        Iron & steel are malleable metals, meaning that when it’s very hot it can be changed in shape by brute force, as in a stamping mill or press, typically using stamping presses that make the change rapidly. When heating the metal up this hot, any prior shape information cast or stamped into the metal is obliterated.

        But when just the top layer of a cast iron part is removed, without heating it to the point where it becomes malleable [think blacksmithing where the piece is heated red hot], the lower remaining area has a hidden “memory”. Even with the new numbers being stamped into the metal, that “memory” of the original number can be recovered.

        Law enforcement CAN often discover the original number on a casting. I’m not going to divulge how it’s done, first because I don’t fully understand the process, and secondly it might be against the law! Just know that the authorities DO have methods they can employ to recover those numbers!

        The bad news is that because aluminum’s casting properties don’t have the same corresponding traits, it’s not possible to recover numbers in the same way as cast iron.

        And while I’m on a roll, just a couple of “pet peeves” of mine here on Barn Finds:
        1. it’s a VIN, not a “VIN Number”. Saying VIN number is like saying “Vehicle Identification Number number”.
        2. The “original” mileage on a vehicle is 0000.0. The correct term to describe what the odometer indicates today is “Actual” or “Indicated” mileage.

        I once did a “gotcha” testimony on a fraud case involving a manipulated speedometer. I testified I had the ability to accurately tell the original mileage of ANY vehicle, without even examining the vehicle! The opposition lawyer took the bait and asked me how I could do that. I simply said that the original mileage reflected the speedometer at the time it was made, assuming it was correctly set at 0000.0

        The accused had written, and said, “the original mileage was correct”. I showed that this statement had no bearing on the case. [He was ultimately convicted of fraud.]

        I’ve got more unusual automotive court cases, if a substantial number of people on here are interested, and Jesse is OK with it.

        Like 13
  4. Steve R

    A 1965 GT350R is so desirable that at least one, probably more, true experts will at some point look this car over with a fine tooth comb. It’s probably a clone, there were so many built over the years and the sellers explanation is too convenient, even though there is a remote possibility it might be true, the odds are it’s just a tall tale.

    Steve R

    Like 35
  5. Gord

    I thought SAAC had a record of all Ford VIN’S that were made into Shelby’s. And of course it would be a K code. I’m sure this would be on the car and/or the title if it has one.

    Like 11
  6. bull

    The 65-66 Registrar for SAAC Mr. Pardee will know the story as he has all the VIN’s and other information. He would be more than happy to confirm if this is the last remaining R model that is still missing with rumors of its location.

    Like 16
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Hard to prove anything if the numbers have been swapped.

      Like 7
  7. i8afish

    Why would anyone strip a real Shelby of its real Shelby parts to make a fake Shelby? You already have a Shelby. Am I missing something?

    Like 55
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      If the Shelby was wrecked, it might have been cheaper to swap everything into a good body. I’m not promoting that kind of thing but there’s no denying that things like that have happened.

      Like 17
  8. Stangalang

    Unless said “real ” shelby was wrecked beyond reasonable repair and the shelby parts were put on another car..that car is still not a shelby. It’s a mustang with shelby parts. I’ve got a regular mustang gt with the shelby drivetrain front to back but it ain’t a shelby.

    Like 21
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      As I said, all the Shelby parts have been removed but there’s a lot of evidence they were there. The owner of this one said it did come to him wrecked.

      Like 4
  9. JoeNYWF64

    No staggered rear shocks?
    Not a very thick front sway bar.

    Like 10
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      As mentioned above, all the Shelby specific parts were supposedly swapped out.

      Like 2
  10. Martin Dix

    Original ’65 Shelbys have an export brace with even-spaced attaching bolts located near the cowl. This one has the bar that’s made to fit the holes left by the standard cowl braces.

    Like 4
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      There are additional holes under that brace. I’m guessing it was swapped when all the other parts were removed.

      Like 2
  11. Tucker Callan

    I could be (probably am) wrong,, but aren`t the shock tower braces supposed to be evenly spaced @ the fire wall??
    ??

    Like 2
  12. John

    The Shelby cars had modified suspension attachment points if my memory serves me well.

    Like 4
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      The holes are visible in the back for the traction bars and the Shelby drop has been done in the front.

      Like 2
    • James Vansicklin

      They DID NOT have staggered rear shocks in 65,the front sway bar does not appear to be 1 inch which is what the shelbys came with

      Like 5
  13. Sid Cannon Sid Member

    Based on the photos I sent Howard Pardee, he says it is a fake because the inner fenders (where the Ford VIN is stamped) don’t match side to side and don’t match any known K code VINs for Shelby cars.
    One side is a K code coupe and the other side is a 6 cylinder fastback.
    Could this have been the result of race damage and wrecking yard replacement?
    The SAAC Registry accounts for all the 1965 Prototypes, however it does not account for three of the ten 1966 Paxton prototype fastbacks.
    Possibly the owner doesn’t know if it is a 1965 or a1966.
    I didn’t check any other date stamps on the car so I don’t know.
    If it was a “lost” 1966 Paxton prototype then someone went to a lot of effort a long time ago to make it look like a 1966 5Rxxx race car.
    Bottom line….
    No paperwork=FAKE

    Like 9
  14. JagManBill

    If the VIN has been swapped, then about the only thing that could be proved is that there were at one time Shelby parts on the shell. Now if I do remember my Shelby history, Shelby guys used to sign various out of the way places on the shell. Find one of those signatures, and you can at least prove it started life as a Shelby. But without the actual VIN, your done.

    Like 8
  15. Mercury Man

    One way to tell if it was an R is to look at the three holes where the sun visors mounted. If there were no sign of a screw ever being installed chances are it could be real. R models never had sun visors so the holes should look unused.

    Like 24
    • Craigo

      Interesting to say the least. Impressive knowledge displayed by our readers.

      👍👏👏

      Like 26
    • SSPBill

      Looking up through the truck floor in the 2nd photo, sun visors are in place.

      Like 9
      • Mercury Man

        If the visor holes have been violated the body is not an R model, simple as that. I know of at least one original R model that was re bodied back in the 80’s or 90’s. These cars, among many others have now aged enough and are worth enough to be cloned and passed off as original. I also know of an original A/FX car that was re bodied. (I won’t go into brand or model but I know for sure a body swap was performed)

        Like 5
  16. Arthur Brown

    Check front brakes. If Disk, then possible R. If Drum then two possibilities. Either someone’s knock off or one of the three (yes 3) that were made as exhibition drag racers. They had high output motor, etc. and all the other Shelby parts, but tell tales for them were a different roll bar in the cabin – not square across the roof, but a loop above the driver head and slope down the passenger side – and drum front brakes. I saw one in Atlanta in the 80’s, and actually got a ride. I knew the owner and helped change valve springs (triple) after a hard run one evening. It always seemed to hammer them. It was awsome.

    Like 7
    • James Vansicklin

      hipo’s had Disc front brakes also

      Like 4
  17. M. Lopez

    Check for Carrol’s signature, if it could run off on its own he’d autograph it…

    …just kidding!

    Like 3
  18. paul simms

    One of the things that lead me to believe that it is not a genuine R model is the dash. R models did not have dash pads installed. The mounting hardware for the dash pad are still present. There are holes for radio delete. there appears to be holes for traction bars. I think there is evidence to support it being a GT350 but not an R model. Also the article says original front valence and hood are in car. Is it an R model Valence?
    I do recall someone selling a 65 model in the early 2000s and stating that the car had parts removed from an original r model that had been wrecked. I do not think this is that R model as some of original parts on this car were significantly damaged.

    Like 4
  19. Phlathead Phil

    Perhaps a group of “Gearheads” can encircle the car and conjure up the ghost of Carrol Shelby and have him do a “Vin Verification,” to be sure.

    Like 2
  20. Don Buck

    I hate to rain on your parade, this is some kind of joke. The whole thing was put together as a joke. Too many junk pieces to mention 8″ rear end, no override traction bar locates, shock tower brace is repo as is the not even spaced bolts in the cowl brace. I have owned 5S241 restored GT 350 and raced 5S 274 an have seen enough crap being passed off to uninformed suckers in the 30 years I restored and raced the cars. Buyer beware of bs.

    Like 8
  21. Mike_B_SVT

    So they removed the VIN from the front apron? Should be signs of either cutting out the VIN stamp or removing / replacing the entire apron.
    No dash tag and no door tag and no apron VIN… So then what VIN did they put on the Title?

    Seems pretty dodgey to me.

    Like 7
  22. Sid Cannon Sid Member

    With all the conjecture you are the first one to mention what should have been the first request… Show me the title.
    I have have to admit I never thought of what would have answered a lot of questions. Most likely the answer would have been “There is no title, it is a race car”.

    Like 1
  23. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Is it even legal to sell a car without an identity? Here in the U.K. it’s not legal.
    It needs applying for a “Q plate” which not straight forward .. it’s subject to a government inspection. It then gets a new vin stamped on it and is permanently given a new registration plate that loses its year identity.
    Harder to ensure too.

    Like 4
  24. Sid Cannon Sid Member

    Probably sold on a bill of sale without a title. This means you could not drive it on the road.

    Like 1
  25. Ron

    Provenance, either you got it or you don’t, guessing, wishing, hoping aren’t worth squat…

    Like 5
  26. Barney

    No staggered shocks and still wearing sun visors. I don’t think so Tim

    Like 2
    • Mercury Man

      You are correct about the visors. As for the staggered shocks- the ‘65-‘66 shelby’s were not equipped with staggered shocks, they had Koni shocks in the normal configuration. The early cars also had override traction bars ( and axle limiting straps) with the later cars having Traction Master style bars.

      Like 6
      • Barney

        I stand corrected. I should have known that about the shocks. My bad. As to this car, I see nothing about it that makes me think it’s an R code

        Like 2
  27. James Vansicklin

    1965 shelbys had 9 inch rear ends similar to 57 Ford different from 1966 shelby’s and over ride traction bars this fake has neither

    Like 2
  28. martinsane

    I would assume that all these cars are accounted for? I am guessing that these cars are important enough that somebodies know their whereabouts.

    Regardless, I am chomping at the bit in anticipation to hear the outcome. Ruse or early retirement.

    Like 5
  29. Jay Reynolds

    Visors in place, a horn mounted in factory location and heater controls on the dash. Not looking promising to me to be an R.

    Like 4
  30. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Jesse, I thought the original VIN, which would at least confirm it as an original K code, was engraved somewhere under the car in case law enforcement ever had to identify if it was stolen.

    Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey

      RoughDiamond,

      If I’m not mistaken, the federal requirement for the VIN to be stamped on the right rear frame section, didn’t come into being until 1 January 1968.

      Like 3
  31. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

    Well, the “R” theory has been disproven. There’s still a lot of evidence here that this car could have been a Shelby or even a Paxton equipped car though. Great discussion guys. Let’s keep it going!

    Like 9
    • JohnD

      Respectfully, lots of evidence???? Some white paint and (incorrect) blue stripes?? Oh, and a story from a hopeful seller. I forgot the story.

      Like 2
      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        Check all the cuts and holes made where the Shelby parts would have been. That’s the only physical evidence you can have when the parts and numbers have been removed. Examples: tachometer, Shelby drop, traction bars, Monte Carlo bar, etc.

        Like 3
  32. Jeffry Harris

    The vin is stamped in to both left and right aprons, and maybe a third if i remember correctly. The others are hidden under the fender lip which is not cut out to see it.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      The VIN was stamped on the driver’s side inner fender.

      Like 2
      • James Vansicklin

        On both sides of the inner fenders

        Like 1
      • Mike_B_SVT

        So is there still a VIN there, or did they cut it out?

        If there is no VIN on the body at all, what did they use for the Title VIN? …the Title VIN number had to come from somewhere.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        There’s a VIN but the seller told us that the inner structure had been swapped out. They had to have a Sheriff inspection done to get a title so there’s a tag in the door jam too.

        Like 2
      • Mike_B_SVT

        Is there signs of work that support the story that the inner structures were swapped out? Or are the factory welds still in place?

        Like 1
      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        The seller told us you can see where it was cut.

        Like 1
  33. JohnD

    Cuts and holes? I bet lots of people on here have drills. And some of us have real Shelbys. Cars, not stories. These air cars hurt the hobby for everybody. You want to make a clone or whatever, fine! Suggest that it might have been a real car before the numbers and parts disappeared??? No.

    Like 2
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      What damage does this car do to the hobby? If anything, it brings to light the fact that there are some unscrupulous people out there and maybe even a few fake Shelbys masquerading around as factory built cars.

      Like 3
    • Mike_B_SVT

      I think you are blowing it a bit out of proportion. You will likely notice that no one here is discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of the Story.

      This car does have some intriguing features that point to a possible Shelby heritage. If nothing else, it may simply have been a clone that subsequently had all the parts pulled off. Investigation and knowledge are the key to determining if this is or is not a real Shelby.

      Aside from that, just the comments alone are worth the bag of popcorn. Lots of knowledge being shared here. Hell, we’ve already ruled out the possibility of it being an R car.

      Like 5
  34. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Back in the early 90’s I bought a Sierra Sapphire Cosworth replica.
    It was a car audio demo car and started life as a 2.0 Ghia.
    The audio store had bought a late Model Sapphire Cosworth that had a blown engine had a damaged rear and swapped every single item including the bonnet (with vents), dashboard, diff, suspension etc
    No vins were touched but it’s an example of what can happen.
    This car may have been played with early in its life when not so valuable.

  35. Sid Cannon Sid Member

    I already posted once that the VIN on one side is 07K, a coupe K code and the other side is 09T, a fast back 6 cylinder.
    It should be 09K, fastback K code on both sides unless the inner fenders were replaced. I didn’t look for evidence of them being replaced but it sounds like the owner already confirmed that.
    Even if the owner has two chunks of metal with the real vin they could have come from a different car not this one.
    The Only other k code vin would have been on the right side of the engine block but it is long gone (IF it was ever there in the first place).
    FYI I own 6S1248 and I think all this discussion does is make mine more valuable.

    Like 1
  36. chillymost1

    My dad had a GT350 in the 70s that was stripped of all the Shelby parts and used in another fastback shell to make a new “Shelby Cobra”. The guy swapped out the drivetrain and interior and did a quicky paint job sold it to my Dad with no bumpers. He paid $1,500 for it in 1976. I PLEADED with him to sell it to me but he wouldn’t, said I’d kill myself in it and he sold it for $1,500.00. So, somewhere in Cincinnati is a real GT350 undercover and a “real” GT350 that aint.

    Like 3
  37. Mark

    I thought the original “R” cars didn’t have the side scoops”. Is that true?

    Like 1
  38. Sid Cannon Sid Member

    I just looked through the SAAC registry photos. It appears some race cars had the side brake Cooling scoops and some didn’t.

    Like 2
  39. JagManBill

    Here’s where my gut tells me the story is… For the sake of respecting purpose, lets sale that a PO owned a “real” Shelby and wrecked it. Next (or same ) PO buys a 6 banger fastback and swaps over all the good Shelby parts to the 6 banger shell to build a clone/hotrod. Multiple years pass, and the current owner of the 6 banger/”Shelby” sells the car to next PO who has a real Shelby that had been lost its goodies, buys this car, removes all said goodies and puts them on their real Shelby, then dumps the remains on the market.

    You can make up lots of good stories about it…lets hear yours!

    Lets face it. Even if it was just an “old” race car, an old Shelby would end up in a barn or a shed somewhere. So with the 8″ pumpkin, that alone alines with the 6 banger VIN number idea as all SA’s came 9″. (but if you blew the 9″ out of it and couldn’t find another, then the diff tree would be fruiting out 8″ pumpkins all over the place hence the smaller swap?)
    The swapped out left inner well swap to a “K” code number – car got wrecked early enough in its life it was repaired with a cut off from a wrecking yard? Shelby stuff was added post repair?.
    There are lots of ways to explain away this car. But what I currently see is a decent looking roller just waiting to be built into a vintage racer that nobody will care what its past was, so long as it doesn’t miss-represent what it currently is.

    Like 7
    • Bill McCoskey

      One of the problems with making sense of what a car is or is not, is the inability of a title to reflect a clone or reproduction. The states don’t care about a clone or repo.

      I believe we need states to all adopt a place on a vehicle title to reflect if it’s a clone or repro or kit car.

  40. Ned

    I bought a 59 MGA with a 327 for 3k in Marina Del Rey ca. It faintly looked like a 289 because the previous owner put the 289 frown on nose like original Shelby cobra. Well the car was fun but I sold it to a college kid from switzerland who smashed front a little. Car ends up at Brutus tow in marina where I would go an my pal was there an here’s my MG for auction .
    My friend buys it for $400 an fixes nose.
    He then makes the rear fenders look like a Shelby by putting b to lding foam on top then cutting it an bondo to form it like a real cobras. Then he gets a good paint job so it does look kinda like a 289 real cobra. He calls me all happy he says a guy driving down Lincoln Blvd in Santa Monica sees him he asks if he wants to sell it my pal says yeah 25 thousand.
    The guy has my friend pull over he bangs on it an thinks it’s a real 289 cobra cause of the steel MG body. He says get the pink slip I want
    It now.. The guy was so freaking out he was shaking with white tail deer panic..My friend goes home and meets the guy with pink slip he hands him 25k they depart.,
    My friends happy to say the least . When he saw the title pink slip it said 59 MG but the guy thought maybe it was a mistake.
    My friend said the guy called several times but my friend never picked up the phone…
    Moral;
    If you BS the Baker,
    You Get a Cinnamon Bun.,,
    If you BS a Researcher,
    You Don’t Get One,,,,

    Like 1
    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      I wouldn’t want the karma personally. Good story though!

  41. Bill McCoskey

    If you BS the Baker,
    You Get a Cinnamon Bun.,,
    If you BS a Researcher,
    You Don’t Get One,,,,

    LOVE IT!

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