This Shelby GT350R could top the Bullitt Mustang’s record auction price

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

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Ken Miles Shelby front side Ken Miles Shelby front side
Ken Miles Shelby rear side Ken Miles Shelby rear side
Ken Miles Shelby interior Ken Miles Shelby interior
Ken Miles Shelby engine Ken Miles Shelby engine
Ken Miles Shelby flying Ken Miles Shelby flying

The Bullitt Mustang’s record sale price seemed untouchable, until now

At the start of the year, the Bullitt movie car sold for staggering AU$4.9 million at auction – claiming the outright record as the "most expensive Mustang ever".

A record that seemed untouchable for both is automotive and pop culture provenance.

But now, talks are emerging that this Shelby GT350R could be knocking on the door of that eye-watering figure.

Serialised as "5R002", it’s the first of three original GT350s built by Shelby American in 1964; and was the first car to win a race and the only Shelby Mustang ever driven by legendary racer Ken Miles.

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The Mustang racer will feature in Mecum’s Indianapolis auction next month from May 12 to May 17, with Dana Mecum stating: "without this car, there would have been no Super Snake [Mustang record holder as of 2019], there would have been no Bullitt".

The GT350 emerged as the SCCA racing series was dominated by Corvettes at the time, and Ford’s newfound pony car needed some competition and performance credentials.

READ NEXT: THE ONLY SHELBY GT500 NOTCHBACK RESTORED AFTER ALMOST 50 YEARS LOST

Shelby American took three bare-bone fastback bodies and built two GT350Rs for racing purposes, and one street car as a proof of concept. 5R002 was the first of the three produced, and made its racing debut at Texas’ Green Valley Raceway where Ken Miles etched himself into Mustang lore after being photographed four-wheels off the ground.

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The car was successfully campaigned, along with its sister car, in SCCA’s B/Production series through to 1967 after which it was raced in private hands at the hands of owners in Texas and Mexico, before it sat unrestored in the Shelby American Museum in Colorado for 15 years.

In 2010, the car was purchased by John Atzbach who had the car faithfully and exactingly restored through John Brown’s Thoroughbred Restorations in Oklahoma.

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Since the car’s debut following its restoration, 5R002 has won Best in Class at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance; and has received a perfect score at the Shelby American Auto Club Division I judging.

While no pre-auction estimate has been published by Mecum, it’s an extremely significant vehicle within the pantheon of collectible Shelby Mustangs and while it may not carry the panache of Steve McQueen’s name, the recent Ford v Ferrari Hollywood movie has breathed new life into the name of Ken Miles within the wider populous.

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Will it top the Bullitt Mustang’s record-breaking sale? Maybe, but current economic circumstances may see a reduction in top-end sales around the world.

Stay tuned for more auction news and results.

 

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