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Original Venice Crew to build G.T. 350R Continuation Shelbys

Original Venice Crew to Build Shelby GT350R Continuations

By Dean Larson

Photos courtesy of Jim Marietta and OVC Mustangs

It’s tough to mistake the 1965 Shelby GT350. All 562 of the heavily modified Mustangs wore Wimbledon White paint with Guardsman Blue rocker-panel stripes bearing the GT 350 insignia, an instantly recognizable look. But 36 of these cars earned those stripes for the brand after being stripped down, tuned and track-prepped for SCCA racing. These GT 350R competition models were weekend warriors, proving the daily-driving Mustang’s potential on the track in a leaner, meaner form. But the R-model wasn’t quite everything it was originally designed to be. Time constraints forced the Shelby crew to eliminate a few experimental upgrades from the 350R, something the Original Venice Crew are looking to fix with a new continuation model.

The Original Venice Crew is made up of former Shelby employees from the 1960s and named after Shelby’s original Venice Beach location where the ’65 GT 350Rs were built. Friends and Shelby veterans Jim Marietta, Ted Sutton and Peter Brock will produce 36 special GT 350R continuation cars bearing the experimental upgrades originally slated for the project. The upgrades consist of a redesigned front valence, Plexiglas rear and rear-quarter windows, and an experimental independent rear suspension, all to be added to the original Shelby upgrades.

The new car, scheduled for production starting in fall of 2017, will be built in Southern California, just like the originals. Starting with a ’65 K-code Mustang, the crew will recondition the entire vehicle, adding Shelby’s standard upgrades as well as the new experimental components. A race-prepped interior and period-correct driveline from Carroll Shelby Engine Co. will finish off the continuation GTs in an authentic R-model fashion. Licensing from Ford Motor Co. and Carroll Shelby Licensing will allow the OVC to badge the cars as Shelbys and give them a Shelby VIN. Since the car uses an original '65 Mustang donor, continuation cars can also be titled for street use.

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A quick conversation with Jim Marietta provided all the historical evidence we needed into the experimental Shelby add-ons. The independent rear suspension design used on the new continuation car was in progress in the skunkworks at Ford Advanced Vehicle back in the 1960s. A Ford Falcon known as the "Brown Falcon" was equipped with the new IRS system and tested by Bob Bondurant and Ken Miles at Riverside Raceway. Marietta experienced the suspension hands-on while he worked on a Mustang fastback at Shelby headquarters. The design continued to intrigue him for years and he was eventually able to track down some original parts from the experimental IRS and a photo of the suspension on the Brown Falcon. With Brock and Sutton onboard, the team reproduced and perfected the design, and tested it extensively on Marietta's GT 350 continuation. The car was invited to the 2015 Shelby Ford Nationals where the crew raced it, taking first place in a field of 19 cars.

See more at www.ovcmustangs.com.

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