There are plenty of companies out there building continuation versions of original Shelby Mustangs under license, but only one is run by original crew members who worked at Shelby American more than half a century ago.
The crew consists of Peter Brock, Jim Marietta and Ted Sutton, and together with Shelby historian Randy Richardson they've formed the new company Original Venice Crew. The company's name is a nod to Shelby's original headquarters in Venice, California, and the first product is a continuation version of the 1965 Ford Shelby GT350 Competition, a car more commonly referred to as the Shelby GT350R.
It turns out Shelby had actually named the car a GT350 Competition, but because Shelby's race cars featured an “R” in their VINs, everyone referred to it as the “R model” and over the years this morphed into the GT350R name we know today. That's just one of the original stories you'll learn about the car in the latest video from the Jay Leno's Garage YouTube channel, which features Marietta and Sutton with a prototype.
L to R: Peter Brock, Ted Sutton and Jim Marietta
So how did this project come about? Marietta was just a teen when he joined Shelby in the early 1960s. At the age of 71, he came up with the idea of rebuilding the GT350 Competition. Fortunately he was still in contact with Brock and Sutton, and when Richardson joined, OVC then developed a business plan and took it to Shelby to see if the modern company would be interested in licensing, producing and selling the continuation car. Fortunately, the answer was yes. As with the original, only 36 OVC Shelby Competition continuation cars will be built, including this prototype. There's no word if any build slots are still available.
The goal was to make the GT350 Competition continuation as faithful and authentic to the original as they reasonably could, right down to using original '65 Mustang chassis. OVC's Shelby GT350 Competition isn't exactly the same as the original, though. In addition to a handful of modern safety items, the company implemented some designs envisioned by Brock but never used back in the day because Brock had to leave the project for an assignment in Europe. These include an original Shelby-designed independent rear suspension, disc brakes all around, and a flat rear windshield.
There's also more power...a lot more power. The original might have been good for 306 horsepower, but these OVC-fortified 289-cubic inch V-8s crank out 440 horses. The transmission is a Borg Warner “side loader” 4-speed manual, the carburetor an air-filterless 4-barrel Holley, and every bushing and bearing in the car is all new. The original speedometer and dash binnacle are replaced with a racy array of period-looking Stewart-Warner gauges. Very cool.