Restore, Restart or Wrecked: 1969 Shelby GT350

Posted May 03, 2018

By Dean Larson

We’ve all seen them. Photos of high-dollar classics that were wrecked and abandon years ago. They’ve slowly and silently corroded or been picked apart and parted out as their value finally surpasses the cost to restore them. Think of the photos of the wrecked 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona carcass with its wing removed and rear window panel torched out, or this famous wrecked Lightweight-spec Jaguar E-Type. If the car is truly rare enough and its value exceeds the cost to revive it, it will live again in some form. These two classics are proof of that, as both cars were recently restored, decades after the wrecks that nearly ended their stories. 

Shelby Gt350 14

But when restoring a classic that has very little usable parts left, there’s always a fine line. If the car is a true blue chip classic like the ones listed above, provenance may dictate that every salvageable piece of the original is saved. However, that requires a substantial increase in effort over starting fresh, which the final product may or may not justify. For your viewing pleasure, and hypothetical deliberation, I’ll present this 1969 Shelby Mustang GT350.

This forsaken Ford was four years old when a front-end collision relegated it to a field at the family farm. The engine and transmission were yanked, and the damaged front sheet metal was discarded, but the rest of the car was left as-is next to the barn for the next 45 years. It’s unclear whether the seller has any relation to the car’s last owner, but someone was wise enough to lift the Shelby from its resting place, gather the rest of its remains, and put the lot for sale on eBay.

I think we’ll all agree that a numbers matching ’69 GT350 deserves to live again. Especially when that car is one of just 12 built in this spec with Silver Jade paint, a 351 Windsor, four speed and Traction-Lok rear end. But with the extensive front-end damage and visible corrosion, (not to mention the corrosion that’s not visible) it’s up in the air whether the buyer will restore the car or transfer all the usable parts and title to a new shell from companies like DYNACORN, R3 Performance Products, B Rod or Custom or Year One. Hagerty’s valuation guide list puts the value of this car at $62,300 with some concours examples bringing up to $94,000, quite a bit less than the Lightweight E-Type and Charger Daytona. So that poses the question, is there room to invest a costly restoration on the existing Shelby shell?

I’m no body man, but my guess is that this car will indeed be restored with what’s left of its original steel. No doubt, the car will need all new parts from the fire wall forward, and plenty of fresh steel and bodywork from there back also. The builder should also expect the original engine to need full machine work and a total rebuild, as its time in the barn was clearly spent on the ground without a carburetor present. But the juice should be worth the squeeze in this case, as an original Shelby GT350 with a four speed is hard to beat any day, especially with these rare options.

Restore, restart, or plain wrecked? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Update: Whatever the buyer's plans might be, they were willing to put up $28,900 to haul this wrecked Shelby home.

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