17 April is a very important day on the Ford calendar.
In 2021, the day marked 55 years since Carroll Shelby produced the first commercially-available supercharged Ford Mustang – the Shelby GT350 Fastback.
The Shelby GT350, according to Shelby, produced 46% more power when compared to the standard car.
This was thanks to a Paxton supercharger that Shelby installed to increase airflow through the factory carburettor.
Very few additional mechanical components had to be added to handle the uprated power, and the car even retained the original 4-speed “all-synchro” transmission that it was launched with.
Following the upgrade, the GT350 was able to accelerate from 0-100km/h in under six seconds and reach a top speed of over 240km/h.
Shelby was so confident in his creation that he pitted the supercharged Mustang against the iconic Shelby Cobra Roadster in a drag race, and the Ford won convincingly.
After the race, Shelby placed an order for 500 Paxton superchargers and solidified the Mustang and Shelby partnership for centuries to come.
The large supercharger order did not, however, translate into a large order book.
Only 11 original GT350s were ever sold by the original Shelby America corporation, while the remaining supercharger kits were sold separately and over the counter.
Along with the more powerful motor, the original cars received motorsport-inspired gauges for manifold and vacuum pressures on the dash, and a glovebox with Carroll Shelby’s autograph on it.
These examples are now highly sought-after, and the GT350R – the first prototype of the Shelby Mustang – sold for $3.5 million in 2020.
A world-record auction was also achieved by a Shelby GT350 in March 2021, when a near-original GT350 sold for $962,500 at the Barrett-Jackson auction house in the United States.
The GT350 is arguably one of the most influential vehicles for Ford and Shelby, and is one of the main reasons why the Mustang retains 90% market share in its segment in South Africa today.
“We literally owe our existence and long-standing relationship with Ford to the GT350,” said Peter Lindenberg, founder of Shelby South Africa.
If you would like to read a review and see the original spec sheet of the Shelby GT350, written by Car and Driver in May 1965, follow this link.
World Mustang Day at Shelby South Africa
To mark World Mustang Day, Ford South Africa held a celebration at the Shelby South Africa headquarters.
Up front and centre there was a line-up of vintage Mustangs in showroom condition, arranged for the visitors to take in.
Shelby South Africa are the official distributors of these “superformance heritage cars” and they will happily answer any questions to interested car fans.
Photos of the local Global Mustang Day event are shown below.