1965 Shelby Mustang
Configuration: Longitudinal Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive
Engine: 4.7 Liter (289 C.I.) V8
Horsepower: 306 @ 6000 RPM
Torque: 329 ft-lbs @ 4200 RPM
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Top speed: 140 MPH
Weight: 2790 lbs
The first ever Mustangs were released by Ford on April 17, 1964. Ford anticipated selling around 100,000 models that year, but wound up selling over 400,000 coupes, convertibles, and fastbacks. Despite the car’s apparent popularity, most gearheads were unimpressed. Even though Ford had worked hard to disassociate the Mustang with the Ford Falcon, most people realized that the Mustang was a new body placed on top of a Falcon suspension and chassis. Without a notable performance advantage, the Mustang was in danger of becoming a “secretary’s car,” something you buy to look sporty but not actually drive in a sporty fashion. Following the release of what was deemed the first ever popular muscle car, the Pontiac GTO, the Mustang might fast lose appeal.
In desperate need of help, Ford paired up with Carroll Shelby, who wanted nothing more than to be building his own racecars, and had reached out to several manufacturers about using their V8 engines in a car of his own making. He was rejected by both Chevrolet and Austin-Healey as they were afraid his creation would defeat their models in races, which it eventually did. Ford, on the other hand, saw an excellent opportunity to team up with one of the most brilliant minds in the racing industry and immediately sent two 221cid V8s to his facility in California.
Shelby had already arranged to use chassis from a firm called the AC Car Company in England that had recently stopped receiving their sports car engines. He bored out the Ford engines at his facility to 260cid and fitted to them into chassis, which had also received considerable suspension modifications. The first test car, the CSX-2000, was sent back to California and immediately thrown into street races. It was virtually unbeatable, and later christened the Shelby Cobra, the pride of the Shelby Racing Program. To repay the favor to Ford, Shelby agreed to take on the task of making the Mustang fit to race in the 1965 SCCA season.