The legendary 1965 GT350R Mustang racer was born when Carroll Shelby put a modified 289 cubic-inch V-8 engine into a “K-Code” ‘Stang. That boosted the car’s power from 271 to 306 horsepower—an upgrade accompanied by body changes, such as lightweight fiberglass, fender flares, traction bars, and a new differential. Now, more than 50 years later, a group of employees who worked on the original car is producing a new limited series of the iconic Mustang GT350R. To make it happen, the team looks to eBay Motors as a source for 1965 “K Code” Mustang donor cars.
The three engineers behind the project—Jim Marietta, Peter Brock, and Ted Sutton—will only produce 36 units of the resurrected 1965 GT350R. That’s the same number of cars as were originally manufactured by Carroll Shelby and Ford. The challenge for the Original Venice Crew—as they’ve been dubbed because the original cars were produced in Venice, Calif.—is finding true 1965 K Code Mustangs. They found one of the project’s first K-Code Mustangs on eBay Motors—and now sees the auction site as an ongoing source.
Marietta told eBay Motors that the project started in 2014 when he started to build a single new example of the GT350R for the 50th anniversary of the car winning its first race in Green Valley, Tex. After he brought his first finished GT350R to a few historic vintage races, such as the Mid America Ford & Shelby Nationals, the reaction from enthusiasts was overwhelming. That inspired the band to get back together to build more GT350Rs.
Brock, the crew’s designer, insisted that if they were to go ahead, they should update the front valance, rear quarter, and back windows to match original design ideas for the Mustang. “This is what we wanted to do 50 years ago,” Marietta said.
The Original Venice Crew offers a choice of independent rear suspension—an approach considered by Shelby in 1965 but never implemented—or fixed rear end. The cars come stock with a traditional 289 supplied by Shelby’s engine shop and a Borg Warner four-speed transmission. The team also adds modern parts to pass tech inspection at vintage races. But otherwise, the white-and-blue pony cars stay true to the original.
Marietta said that he trusts the donor cars coming from eBay Motors. “Some other sources look pretty good until you take off the coatings,” he said. Marietta described the new builds as “pretty much frame-off restorations.” Previous builds reveal floor pans that need to be replaced. The Original Venice Crew says it takes about 150 days to build each unit.
The cars are licensed by both Ford and Shelby, use a Shelby-supplied engine, and employ workers who worked on the original Mustangs. That kind of exacting process is expensive, which helps explain the price tag of about $250,000 for the continuation-series GT350R. For those seeking thrills from a Mustang GT350R at a more modest price, eBay Motors is well supplied with modern variants of the iconic racer.