Rare Car Network

Rare Car Network
Unique Classics, Replicas and Build Culture
						Ovc Gt350 26
Rejuvenating the Shelby GT350

The Original Venice Crew revives the Shelby GT350

By Steve Temple

Photos by Randall Richardson and Steve Temple

Transforming a classic street machine into a legendary race car is far from a new enterprise. In fact, several ambitious Cobra fans once converted a 289 slab-side roadster into a Daytona Coupe. After all, the chassis was basically the same, with 3-inch round-tube main rails and transverse leaf springs.

Following this logical approach is an intriguing operation headed by the Original Venice Crew. As the name implies, the crew, namely Ted Sutton, Jim Marietta and Peter Brock, worked for Carrol l Shelby back in t he day, transforming Ford’s pony cars into thoroughbred world-class racers. These men worked on many key projects at Shelby’s Princeton Drive facility in 1965, including the first R-model Shelby GT350 (5R002). Shelby history buffs will also recall that Sutton was the first person to drop a 427 big-block into a Cobra as well.

Today, they are back at it again and with a vengeance, building Shelby GT350 models with an interesting twist. Just as Brock reworked his personal Daytona Coupe with some aero treatments that never made it onto his original design (see the “Coupe de Grace” feature in our Summer 2019 issue), so too is OVC adding some enhancements to their reborn Shelby Mustangs. Brock designed key features for the continuation car when Marietta and Sutton formed the OVC back in 2015. These improvements were not integrated into the cars during 1964- 65 due to cost considerations and market timing pressures.

Summing up this revisionist approach, Brock points out, “We build it like we would have liked to have seen it done.”

OVC assembles the cars at the Shelby facility in Southern California, just as Shelby and the racers did in 1965. Each OVC-built Shelby GT350 begins with the same Mustang, equipped with a Hi-Po 289 ci engine and BorgWarner four-speed. The car bodies are fully reconditioned and built to American competition specs. Customers can choose between the traditional 9-inch fixed rear end or an independent rear suspension. The latter was designed by Ford engineer Klaus Arning and tested by Sutton back in the mid-1960s, but unfortunately it never made it past the development phase.

Enhanced engines with far more output are available from the Carroll Shelby Engine Co. As proof of what’s possible, the first two cars were fitted with 331 ci stroker V8s boasting 450 horses!

Whichever engine is used, it’s typically backed by a BorgWarner four-speed with an authentic Shelby shifter. In the case of the stroked 450 hp small-block, though, an aluminum alloy Toploader was bolted in. Customers can also spec an FIA model and Bondurant edition car, above the standard model.

OVC has licenses from Carroll Shelby Licensing and Ford Motor Co. to build a run of 36 continuation 1965 Ford Shelby GT350 Competition Model cars, each with a base price of $250,000 (depending on the condition of the donor car). OVC is the only company with this dual authority, and each car will receive an OVC/Shelby serial number. Documentation is submitted to the Shelby American Automobile Club Registry and the official Shelby American Registry administered by Carroll Shelby International.

So in the case of these reborn Shelby stallions, what’s old is new again — and then some.

Comments for: Rejuvenating the Shelby GT350

comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories You Might Like