Shelby America’s resume may include Ford trucks and Dodge Durangos, but apart from the Cobra, its Mustangs are undoubtedly its most iconic creations. But as significant as the GT350 and GT500 were and are, some Shelby Mustangs are particularly special. Take the beloved black-and-gold Hertz models, for example, or the ‘King of the Road’ ones. However, there’s one snake-bit ‘Stang that stands above even these. It’s Ken Miles’ Shelby GT350R, and soon, it could be yours.
The 1965 prototype Ken Miles raced set the stage for all Shelby GT350R Mustangs to come
Even if you’ve never seen Ford v. Ferrari, you’ve likely heard of Ken Miles. Or at least, you’ve seen his handiwork.
Next to Carroll Shelby himself, Ken Miles is arguably the most important person in Shelby America’s history. He helped refine the original Shelby Cobra, for one, and famously developed the Ford GT40. Miles won several races in a GT40, too, and came in 2nd at the 1966 Le Mans race. And that’s in addition to the other race cars he drove and refined on the side.
But before Ken Miles put the pedal to the metal in France, he helped another Ford win its very first race. That Ford was the 1965 Shelby GT350R, a prototype with VIN 5R002, the first ‘R-model’ GT350. With Miles behind the wheel, it became the first Shelby Mustang to win any race. And the shot of it jumping over a rise quickly enshrined it in legend as “the Flying Mustang,” Hagerty explains.
The 1965 Shelby GT350R ‘Flying Mustang’ prototype is officially the most expensive Mustang ever—and one of the most important
Ken Miles wasn’t the only racer to put the 1965 Shelby GT350R prototype through its racetrack paces, though. Peter Brock, the same guy who designed the Shelby Daytona, raced 5R002, too. And speaking of the Daytona, another one of its pilots, Bob Bondurant, raced the original GT350R as well. In addition, although Jerry Titus also raced the first production Shelby GT350R, his wins behind 5R002’s wheel earned him the 1965 B-Production Championship, Mecum says.
By the time 5R002 officially retired from racing, it had cemented itself as “one of the winningest Mustangs ever,” Hagerty says. And along the way, it cemented not just the Shelby GT350R, but the Mustang overall as a true performance car. This R-Model is a fundamental part not just of Shelby lore, but the Ford Mustang’s image. Without it, there likely wouldn’t be a GT500, Mach 1, Bullitt, or any of the other beloved high-performance ponies.
In addition, as a prototype, this 1965 Shelby GT350R was essentially Shelby’s rolling laboratory, Mecum muses. Admittedly, the team couldn’t incorporate all their ideas into the production versions, though the Original Venice Crew’s modern recreation has them. Nevertheless, 5R002 has several features and design elements that the production R-Models didn’t get. And a racing-spec Mk1 GT40 4.7-liter V8 that technically wasn’t supposed to leave Ford’s hands is just the start of the list.
Put all this together and you’re left with a truly unique machine. Not to mention the most expensive Mustang ever sold at auction. When this one-of-one Shelby GT350 icon crossed Mecum’s block in 2020, it sold for $3,850,000. Yes, this special snake is officially worth more than the actual Mustang from Bullitt.
It’s headed back to the auction block right now
Luckily, if you missed your chance to bid on this historic ‘Stang, you’re in luck. 5R002 is up for grabs once again at the 2022 Mecum Kissimmee auction. The bidding starts on Saturday, January 15, 2022.
Given how much Ken Miles’ Mustang commanded at its last sale, be prepared to fork over some big bucks this time. Alternatively, you could try finding a ‘regular’ classic Shelby GT350R. But even those stretch into the $1 million range these days; a fair-condition example is easily $685K, Hagerty reports.
Still, how cool would it be to slide into the same seat that Ken Miles taught a Shelby Mustang to fly in?
UPDATE 1/26/2022: Miles’ GT350R almost broke its own auction record. It sold with a final price of $3,750,000.
Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.