1965 Ford Mustang K-Code Morphs Into One-of-None, All-Black Shelby GT350R

The first-generation Ford Mustang arrived in showrooms in 1964 with four different engines. The K-code 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) HiPo V8 was the most potent of the bunch at 271 horsepower. Ford did not offer a more powerful unit until the 390-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) FE was added in 1967. However, the 1965 model year saw the arrival of the Shelby GT350.

The first Mustang created by Carroll Shelby, the GT350 featured a souped-up version of the HiPo K-code. Modified with a four-barrel Holley carburetor, the unit delivered 306 horsepower and 329 pound-feet (446 Nm) of torque. But the GT350 was more than just a 1965 Mustang with more oomph and Shelby badges.

Carroll removed many features (including the rear seats) to make the cars lighter and restricted the drivetrain to a four-speed manual gearbox. In short, the GT350 package turned the Mustang into a track-prepped pony. And in addition to customer cars, Shelby also put together 34 GT350R race-spec vehicles, which were built specifically for the SCCA series.


The stripped-off GT350 recipe didn’t last long, though. In 1966, the car came with rear seats and more options. Ford also offered an automatic transmission and expanded the color palette beyond the Wimbledon White color available in 1965. The more hardcore GT350R version was discontinued.

As a result, the 1965 GT350 sports a unique, lightweight configuration that Shelby and Ford did not replicate on later models. And this feat makes it more desirable, as does its first-year Shelby appeal. The 1965 version is also the rarest of the bunch at only 572 units produced.

The production run includes the factory R competition models, various prototypes, and press/company vehicles. With these out of the way, the number of street-legal GT350s made drops to only around 500. Not surprisingly, they’re also expensive. While the GT350s fetch up to $1 million, the R-spec cars surpass that mark.

It’s a sticker most enthusiasts can’t afford, so there are quite a few replicas and tribute cars out there. While some look authentic, others are just 1965 Mustangs with Shelby-like upgrades. Then we have tribute cars like the one you see here, which isn’t very accurate but it looks stunning and packs a lot of oomph.

Granted, it’s a bit far-fetched to call this 1965 Mustang a Shelby GT350 replica since it’s not finished in Wimbledon White, but this pony looks fabulous in black. And the silver/red stripe is a stunning addition that you won’t see anytime soon on another first-gen ‘Stang.

This build is actually a tribute to the race-spec GT350R. The quarter windows are covered, and there are no steel bumpers in the front and rear. It’s also a modernized take on the SCCA racer, sporting carbon-fiber bucket seats and a quick-disconnect steering wheel. The cabin also boasts a rear-seat delete, a roll bar, and lightweight window frames and door panels.

But other than that, this Mustang retains the original sheet metal. And making things a bit authentic, it’s a true-blue K-code car. But of course, the 289 HiPO V8 is no longer stock. Massaged to deliver extra oomph, it now cranks out 375 horsepower, nearly 70 horses more than the 1965 GT350. It’s not overly powerful, but it’s probably nifty enough to keep up with the GT350R at the drag strip. Check it out in the video below. 

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