1965 GT350 CR Shelby Mustang Prototype
After nearly 25 years of dealing in high-end classic cars & muscle cars, the thing that really gets me excited is when we get in a one-of-a-kind, highly unique vehicle that we will most likely never see again in our lives. The car that you are looking at right now is one of those vehicles.
‘Red Hills Rods & Classics’ is extremely proud to offer you this absolutely beautiful 1965 Shelby Mustang GT 350CR Prototype, a one-of-a-kind Mustang designed & built for Carroll Shelby by Sir Jon Wilhelm @ Wilhelm Motor Works. Jon Wilhelm, a Shelby licensee, was empowered to build GT 350CR (Convertible Retractable) vehicles, as well as other prototype cars for Mr. Shelby. Wilhelm is credited for approaching Carroll Shelby in the early 2000's to suggest that he might consider re-entering the Ford market w/ Shelby products (at the time he was building the Series 1 w/ Oldsmobile), but Mr. Shelby was not interested in working w/ Ford ever again, and gave Wilhelm the worldwide rights to the Shelby Mustang. Wilhelm first brought the 'Eleanor' to market, calling it the GT 500E, and needless to say the success of that venture made the market for ‘67 and ‘68 Mustang Fastbacks go through the roof! Less desirable coupe bodies remained plentiful (approximately 5 times more in quantity), and they were relatively cheap at the time. Wilhelm proposed building a ‘retractable convertible’ as well as regular convertibles, and renewed his license with Shelby in 2005 to build the GT 350CR.
This prototype is the first car built as a ‘convertible retractable’ w/ many unique Shelby appointments and styling cues. Carroll Shelby told Wilhelm that his favorite color combination was blue & orange, as depicted on the GT40 Gulf race car, so of course those colors were used, although updated by using House Of Kolor paint (TruBlue & Tangelo). This car is a very early 1964.5 Mustang (built in July 1964) and it received a complete rotisserie restoration, w/ every nut, bolt, wire and component being replaced or completely refurbished. No expense was spared while building this prototype vehicle, and only the best products available for Ford Mustangs were used. It was jigged and trued to near-perfection by The Restomod Shop in Stockton, California, while final assembly and alterations were made at Showcase Rods and Customs in Salt Lake City, Utah. Features include: 17 coats of paint including white pearl, custom Lemans stripes w/ added center stripe (only for the retractable cars), side-badging stripes for GT 350CR designation, custom gas filler cap, 3-point LED rear taillights, custom retractable top conversion, aluminum billet attachment hardware, custom built reversed trunk lid w/ custom Shelby spoiler, custom hinges & hardware to support rear deck lid, Halogen tri-bar headlamps, ground effects, custom-built metal front hood w/ Shaker hole, frenched gills in front grill area, shaved side scoops, Shelby front air-dam modified for front bumper, and on & on! The original metal hood was altered to look like a vintage Shelby from the side, but the scoop is active and resting on the engine, providing a true shaker effect, the first known example of this unique combination. The carbon fiber rear deck-lid was custom built to reflect the Shelby influence of the ‘67/’68 rear spoiler, and 2 additional inches were needed in trunk space height to conceal the retractable top. Those extra 2" were concealed nicely within the spoiler, and the look is very much Shelby! The retractable top system was originally designed by Ben Smith, a Ford engineer who had successfully introduced the 1957-1959 Ford Skyliner Retractable, and Ford commissioned him to build one for this Mustang ‘Retractable Convertible’. All of the hardware is hand-made billet aluminum, and the material used on the covering is similar to what is found on a high-end BMW. The top is operated manually, but the lightweight carbon-fiber material makes its quite easy to manage. She rides on 18" American Racing Torq-Thrust II wheels w/ spinners, wrapped w/ Goodyear Eagle F1 Ultra Performance radial tires (235/45/ZR17).
Open the driver’s door and you will find a completely custom black & blue interior, featuring the Wilhelm ambigram logo (reads the same in either direction), and the dashboard has been shaved to display the beautiful bones of the metal dash, that is usually hidden underneath the typical padding. The seats are re-created from the original frames, but the bucket seats have modern bolsters and headrests. Other features include: all new instrument gauges, custom black & blue carbon fiber interior w/ embedded logo, center console, TCI Outlaw shifter, woodgrain steering wheel, sound-deadening & heat insulation, factory Ford air-conditioning w/ modern AC system from Old Air Products, custom Retro-belt seatbelts, and Ford logo floor mats. It truly is a fabulous looking interior!
Pop open the hood, and nestled inside the beautifully detailed engine bay resides the modified 302ci V8 motor w/ a mild cam & custom heads, featuring lots of polished aluminum parts throughout. Other drivetrain features include: Edelbrock Performer Dual-Plane intake manifold, Quick Fuel 650cfm carburetor, aluminum valve covers w/ custom 'Wilhelm Motor Works' logo, JBA titanium ceramic shorty headers, Pertronix Flame-Thrower II coil, Painless wiring harness, power rack & pinion steering, racing oil pan, Metric AOD transmission modified for higher-horsepower, 8” Curry limited-slip rear axle, oversized 4-wheel disc-brake system by SSBS, Be Cool aluminum radiator, etc. The Ringbrothers hood hinges w/ custom fender bolts are one of many little details under the hood that really stand out. She fires up instantly, settling into a nice smooth idle, and she runs, drives & performs beautifully in every way! The power steering and power disc brakes make driving around town effortless, and when you get her out on the highway she tracks straight and true.
During the final stages of the build, Carrol Shelby had decided to get back into bed w/ Ford, and decided not to continue the ‘Retractable’ program, revoking the license before it was even completed. The final work was halted during a period of lawsuits (both of which Sir Jon Wilhelm won), and the car was completed subsequent to the duration of the Shelby license. Sir Jon Wilhelm and Carroll Shelby patched things up before Shelby passed away, and this beautiful one-of-a-kind Mustang represents “what could have been”. It also represents a very unique part of the Carroll Shelby story, and is still part of Sir Jon Wilhelm’s personal collection. This fine vehicle is a Mustang Club Of America ‘Grand National Champion’ (Modified, Trailered Division, aka Show Car Division), and was a featured vehicle @ SEMA, where it drew massive crowds. It has been shown at several car shows, where it always takes home ‘First Place’ awards.
If you are an avid collector of vintage Ford Mustangs, and/or a Carroll Shelby fanatic, who can appreciate the rarity and the uniqueness behind this amazing machine, then you will want to take a long and hard look at this gorgeous 1965 Shelby Mustang GT 350CR Prototype!