Could the “Flying Mustang” become the most-expensive Mustang ever? The first 1965 Shelby GTR350R Competition Model is heading to the Mecum Indianapolis collector car auction in May 2020.
Mecum announced that the car collection of John Atzbach—highlighted most notably by the first 1965 Shelby GT350R Competition Model built, known as the “Flying Mustang”— will headline Dana Mecum’s 33rd Original Spring Classic, to be held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis on May 12-17, 2020. This was the first Shelby Mustang to race and to win.
Most-Expensive Mustang Ever?
Mecum Auctions twice in the past 18 months increased the title for the most-expensive Mustang ever to record heights. A 1967 Shelby Super Snake without significant racing history sold for $2.2 million at Mecum Kissimmee 2019 while $3.74 million was paid for the Bullitt Mustang at Mecum Kissimmee 2020.
While the “Bullit Mustang” could cash in on its Steve McQueen connection, the 1965 Shelby GTR350R Competition Model will have to go on the importance of the car alone. It was the first Shelby Mustang to race and win. It is also considered the most winningest Mustang of all time.
Although Mecum was quick to talk up the potential value of the car, even Hagerty conceded that it might reach the Bullit’s price, although it is hard to compete against McQueen magic.
The “Flying Mustang”
The 1965 Shelby GTR350R Competition Model, chassis 5R002, from the Atzbach collection was the first of 36 competition GT350R built. This is the very car that was piloted by the legendary Ken Miles at Green Valley Raceway on February. 14, 1965. This marked the first time any Shelby Mustang was entered into a sanctioned competitive event.
Amazingly, Miles took the car to a dominating first-place finish and, en route to the win, was captured in one of motorsports history’s most memorable photos showing Miles and the Mustang airborne with all four tires of the car lifted clear off the ground. This gave it the monicker “Flying Mustang”.
1965 Shelby GTR350R Competition Model
The first competition Shelby Mustang, the first to be raced, and the first to win, 5R002 simultaneously served as Shelby American’s factory engineering mule, a rolling test bed for ideas and components, including those that would constitute both the second team car (5R001) and all 34 customer R-models. Ken Miles, Bob Bondurant, Chuck Cantwell, Peter Brock, Jerry Titus and several other world-class drivers drove this car extensively in testing and development. In fact, Titus would not have earned the 1965 B-Production SCCA National Championship title had it not been for his early victories throughout the year in 5R002.
Indeed, after 5R002 entered and won that first historic race, it paved the way for the rest of Carroll Shelby’s GT350s to dominate their class across both North America and Europe, giving rise to the Shelby name and motoring legacy while drastically altering the public perception of the Mustang forever.
5R002 is an automobile so historically significant that accurately and completely summarizing its eminence can be difficult because of the many reasons for which it is important. To simplify, 5R002 is The Ken Miles R-Model. Few, if any, cars are so intertwined with the legendary and essentially mythical figure that is Ken Miles. Today, Miles is revered as one of the greatest figures in racing that the world has ever known, one who tragically died at the height of his career.
5R002 stands today as one of the most significant and historic competition cars ever constructed by Shelby American Inc. The car represents a legendary convergence of a chicken farmer from Texas, a gang of Southern California Hot Rodders ready to take the fight to the Corvette, a driver the likes of which we may never see again and a “secretary’s car” that thought it could fly.
Atzbach Collection Cars at Mecum
Atzbach is well-known in the collector car hobby and prolifically recognized as an authority on all things Shelby; his memorabilia collection is the most extensive and encompassing assemblage of Shelby artifacts known to exist, while the cars offered represent an array of the most historic and significant Shelby Mustangs available anywhere on the market in many years, possibly ever.
A total of 12 vehicles are slated to cross the block as part of the Atzbach Indy 2020 auction offering, and the group encompasses nine other incredibly rare Shelby Mustangs—including the only production factory supercharged 1965 GT350, the first production 1966 GT350, a factory supercharged 1966 GT350, the first 1966 GT350 convertible and the final 1970 Shelby GT350.
Outside of the Shelby Mustangs, the collection is rounded off by a superb example of an independent competition 289 Cobra and two Lamborghinis. His Road Art collection comprises approximately 15,000 items ranging from rare Shelby artifacts to original and authentic vintage automotive signs and collectibles.