Real or Clone? Complicated 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350-R

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While Mustangs were as plentiful as Carter’s peanuts in 1965, the high-performance Shelby Mustangs were built for a limited crowd. 562 of them were GT350s while another three dozen were GT350-Rs for SCCA Trans Am racing (which it won in). The seller tries to build a case that this car is a real GT350-R and has a pile of supposed evidence that does and does not support the claim. For the moment, it looks like a regular Mustang fastback on its way to becoming a GT350 clone. Located in Meridian, Idaho, this Ford (as a roller) is being sold here on eBay where the current bid is $23,100.

If you take the time to read all the documentation collected by the car’s previous owner, you’ll find as many theories are floating around about this machine as the assumption of how many collaborators were involved in the Kennedy assasination. The seller and the previous owner think this is a real GT350-R whose identity was erased and replaced by one that’s rather mundane. I’m not one for speculation, but the facts are that the VIN supplied by the seller shows this car has been built in San Jose, California with a 200 cubic inch inline-6.

If this were a real deal Shelby, why would someone go to the trouble to re-identify it as something more mundane? Were the car’s credentials transferred to another Mustang because this one was once damaged too badly to be restored? Were told the frame is not original to the car. One theory is it was a ’65 fastback with a HiPo 289 V8, but not a Shelby. If this car challenges your detective skills, read over the documentation before the listing goes away.

At a minimum, you have a Mustang fastback that has been painted to look like a GT350. We’re not aware there is an interior, glass, or any brightwork, and the engine is MIA, and the 4-speed manual may be, too. If you were to buy this and continue down the path the previous owner had been going, you’d at least have a nice Shelby clone, even if you can’t get its history to jive. And will any of this cause you issues at the DMV? Here’s a video to sweeten the pot.

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  1. Sfm5

    Definitely a clone. There are many telltale signs. I am lucky to own a real one.

    Like 26
    • Ray

      At least put some vintage Shelby rims on it…Not a Shelby owner, but even I see too many “yellow flags” in that video to call horse hockey, as Colonel Porter would say

      Like 5
      • Eddie Tucker

        Colonel Potter.

        Like 13
  2. 8banger 8bangerMember

    I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a “frame” on a Rustang…subframe maybe…

    Like 19
    • CCFisher

      No subframe, either. Mustangs were fully unitized.

      Like 3
    • Jay McCarthy

      The only reason one would cut the VIN tags off and replace them with hohum numbers is because it was stolen IMHO

      Like 0

    He can make up stories and say anything he wants but it will never bring the money as a real one. Some sucker will believe the BS, and that’s what he’s looking for.

    Like 19
    • Motorcycleman

      Working on one now, all unibody no bolt in subframe.

      Like 3
  4. Brian

    soooooo, let’s go with the seller’s story (and it is clearly a story) for a moment. So, this car is a true Shelby, but was deemed at the time (1970’s, he states) as too damaged to be repaired. That’s plausible. So, somebody took all of the Shelby parts, and transferred them to another car. (also plausible). Someone then went to all of the trouble to put all of the 6 cylinder numbers on this shell that was too damaged to be repaired. My suspension of disbelief has just left the chat.

    Like 35
    • The Other Chris

      I was going to say similar… a real GT350-R was too heavily damaged to be worth restoring, but after it was VIN’ed as a 6-cylinder car, suddenly, someone decided it was worth restoring? (Yes, I realize that was just a theory, but even so, not a bit of any of this makes sense.)

      Like 2
  5. J

    There was a guy in Northern California who had a 69 firebird 350 and he claimed it was a trans am. He had a very long story to tell about it, why it was a true trans am and he went on for years and on many websites to tell it over and over hoping someone would listen and pay him $250000 for it.

    Like 5
  6. JCAMember

    No one would weld in a 6cyl vin. Doesn’t make sense

    Like 12
  7. Hal Reinstra

    Of the vehicle (VIN) Code is a “K” code yes, it’s a Shelby. A ” T” code , six cylinder,No it is not.
    I worked for Carroll, for many years.

    Like 7
    • Rjonec

      Hi Hal,

      It has been decades since we last spoke. Hope all is well on your end. The fact this this is a 6 cyl. car should exclude it from even having a conversation that this is a GT-350 R. However, it certainly could have been a race car from decades ago.

      All the best Richard

      Like 1
  8. Rick Hunter

    My 68 Malibu is really really an SS, the line workers Mistakingly put a 13637 cowl tag, left off the SS badging, Mistakingly put a 307 & PG instead of the L78 396 that was sitting next to the car and I have no idea where that engine went……😁

    Like 31
    • Eddie Tucker

      Oh, I know. Similar thing happened to my 62 Catalina Super Duty!

      Like 6
    • Kevin Kendall

      I think a buddy of mine might have it 😆 Seriously though,,he owns a black 68 L78 with just a little over 27,000 actual miles

      Like 0
  9. Mark F.

    There is definitely more questions than answers here. I say even if it is a rebody using Shelby parts that still makes it a clone. The pictures seem to be of multiple cars as there are several areas that are different. Like different over spray colors and different cut outs, one shows a standard 1965 gauge cluster one shows an R model style. Why would a race car have speakers added to the rear quarter panel trims? Why would you cut out the factory roll bar? The side scoops are 1966, 1965 R models were just like the 1965 street version in that they didn’t have the brake cooling scoops. Where is the extra large fuel tank? Why in the before pictures did it have a standard gas cap but now it has the R-model block off plate? Where are the lexan side are rear windows?

    Like 8
    • Sid

      I inspected this car when it was for sale a year ago. Yes it is possible that it could have been a real deal, then wrecked and repaired with one fender from a 6 banger fender and another fender with a non K code fender. The then owner said he had lots of paperwork to prove it was real but the only thing that would have proved it was real to me would have been a chunk of mangled fender with the Shelby tag with a confirming Ford VIN underneath and some reconstruction photos.
      That being said there was a lot of correct clues on this car, all of which are fairly easy to reproduce.
      The car looked straight and would make a great foundation for a historic race car if the price was right and it was just represented as such.

      Like 5
      • Mark F.

        But I’m not convinced it’s even a real race car. Forget the Shelby part of the story, the car has aftermarket stereo speakers and the metal dash was cut out for an aftermarket stereo. What race car has a radio?

        Like 3
      • Mark F.

        The eBay pictures are obviously of more than one vehicle, (big red flag) conveniently all the hard to find parts are missing, it says the roll cage was removed, but the car with the roll cage in the pictures has significantly different cutouts for the traction master bars, not to mention completely different bars, a different gauge cluster, and a different steering wheel. This screams attempted deception.

        Like 3
  10. djhuff

    Rick, those same line workers also built a lot of 69 Z/28 Camaros with 6 cylinder markers (123379N) in the VIN and forgot the X-33 or X-77 stamping on the body tag.

    Yes, I knew that the body tag was only on Norwood cars built after the middle of December and those tags can be faked or taken off a real car that was junked back in the day. The first three in the VIN number (6 cylinder) is a lot harder (and also illegal) to fake.

    Like 2
  11. RetiredstigMember

    A quick trip to the Shelby American Club website and its list of VINs should make short work of this. It’s either in there or not, as will be a description of the car’s known history. And the seller is ill informed at best about Shelby Mustangs. They were NEVER raced in the Trams Am series, but in B Production SCCA races. Shelby did build T/A cars, but they were notchbacks until 1969.

    Like 0
  12. gbvette62

    Both the author and the seller are wrong about the GT-350R being built for Trans Am racing. The GT-350R didn’t have a back seat making it a “sports car”. It raced in SCCA B-Production with small block Corvette’s, 289 Cobra’s, XKE’s, etc. Trans Am was based on SCCA A-Sedan rules which required a back seat. Shelby prepared and raced the factory TA Mustangs from 66-69, but used specially built notchbacks, not fastbacks (except in 69 when they raced Boss 302’s). Shelby’s TA Mustangs were not GT-350’s and shared only a few parts with the GT-350R.

    This car reminds me of a mess involving a rebodied GT-350 in California 20 or so years ago. I think the car passed through a couple owners before a Shelby expert noticed the body was missing some specific Shelby only details. It was determined that it was a regular Mustang with a Shelby VIN and other parts off of a wrecked or badly rusted real GT-350. Federal law prohibits transferring the VIN from one car to another, so the car was confiscated and a number of lawsuits followed. I don’t remember what the outcome was, but California was going to crush the car. This was a big story in the hobby at the time.

    Like 9
    • Gary

      I have tried to tell people on here numerous times that it is illegal to do vin swaps but it falls on deaf ears. Hope they get caught and convicted when they do it.

      Like 5
    • Roland J. Smith

      I remember these cars vividly. Guess I was 13 Brondes Ford in Toledo ohio had 350s and 500s just standing next to them you could feel the speed. I wanted one so bad. Memories man,so cool

      Like 4
  13. Philbo427

    Would be cool to have this car. I would tell people that it’s a fastback Mustang with a possibility of it being a Shelby and drive it and enjoy it. You wouldn’t be able to drive a real Shelby and enjoy it the way you could with a tribute car and sometimes the mystery of the car is more intriguing than knowing it’s a real Shelby. Let people discuss it a look into it and explore it for what it is. That’s the fun of this hobby sometimes is the exploration of the history of a car.

    Like 2
  14. Philbo427

    Pardon my ignorance, but in the eBay description there are interior pics and there are two brown handles going through the floor to the underside of the car. They look like canes for walking. What are these for???

    Like 1
    • gbvette62

      I’m hardly an expert on post WWII Shelby’s or even Ford’s in general, but I believe they are someone’s attempt to duplicate the Shelby’s upper mounted traction bars. If you look at some of the other pictures there appears to be a picture of the same area of another car with the correct upper traction bars the GT-350R used that came through the floor (the picture that shows the bar coming through the floor and attaching to the triangle shaped, floor mounted pivot). I assume that picture was included to show this car has the correct cutouts in the floors, even if it doesn’t have the correct traction bars?

      Like 2
      • Philbo427

        Aha, thanks very much for the explanation! I didn’t notice the other picture with the correct traction bar. Maybe it really is a cane and it was used just to demo that a traction bar goes there. The handle part is too ergonomic to be anything else but a cane.

        You answer may also shed light on the fact that people see multiple cars in the pictures. I haven’t looked closely at those pics but the extra pics perhaps are to show what the car should look like but it might be confusing otherwise. Thanks!

        Like 0
  15. Reid Hall

    Looks like 👍, a clone, and or replica to me,although if l were to buy a similar 🤔, car,l would try not to pay as much money,for a project car anyway.

    Like 0
  16. Sid

    To add to my earlier comments:
    I think the photos cover the evolution and history of the car. They are not all photos of the car in its present condition.
    For example, I was excited to see what looked like original over-riders in some photos but was shocked to see they were removed.
    Why would anyone remove original over-riders from a REAL GT350R?

    Like 0
  17. CCFisher

    If the VIN on this car correlates to a 6-cylinder fastback, and there’s no Shelby American VIN plate, then it doesn’t matter what evidence exists (none of the photos or letters are real, irrefutable documentation anyhow) to suggest that this is a genuine GT-350R, because legally, it is no longer that car.

    Like 3
  18. ThisGuy

    I wouldn’t even call it a clone. Blatant scammer.

    Like 2
  19. Jon

    How often do 20+ people comment on a vehicle here? That ought to say a bunch.
    Run away from this at any price, too many headaches to figure out

    Like 4
    • Philbo427

      Hahah, take a look for the Corvette Summer car comments!

      Like 0
  20. LotusS777

    Perhaps a good vintage race car project. And the GT350-Rs were just race versions of the GT350 for B Production, not A Sedan/Trans-Am, all of the TA cars were coupes, not fastbacks.

    Like 0
  21. RetiredstigMember

    The Shelby American Club can settle this in a few minutes. They are fanatical about documenting Shelby cars, especially rare items like a GT350R. Just check the VIN on their register, and the truth will be known.

    Like 3
    • Mark F.

      You are not paying attention to the “story” according to the owner it no longer has its original VIN number so of course the VIN that is on the car would match the registry. Anyone with a basic knowledge of early mustangs knows that all 1965 Shelby’s were made from K-code fastbacks. This VIN is a T code. It’s the seller saying that the panel with the VIN was replaced and we are supposed to believe that this is really what happened. I’m not buying the story, too many missing highly important parts, and nothing about the car that can’t very easily be done on any fastback. Also I noticed before but didn’t mention, the rear seems way too high. The front it high because the motor is missing, but the ride height of the rear end is way too high.

      Like 0
      • Mark F.

        Should read wouldn’t. Idk how would got in there.

        Like 0
  22. Mr Mercury

    One way to tell if it is an authentic R model is the three holes for the sun visors, if they are not cleanly punched and have signs of a screw being installed IT IS A FAKE. R models never had sun visors. SAAC should have the history on this car if it is real, or if it has been promoted as real and is a FAKE.

    Like 0
  23. Paul

    In my youth back then we would call this a Franken car

    Like 0
  24. lrnhigh

    Having done several clone Shelbys, the one part that you need is the strut tower brace, which was unique to 65-66 Shelbys. But the vin is the real give away.

    Like 0
  25. Mark F.

    Didn’t sell, relisted.

    Like 0
  26. Timothy Vose

    No. Sold at 24+change. And NO.

    Like 1

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