1964 - 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe
Caroll Shelby cherished one dream while racing in Europe and North and South America throughout the 1950s; building the world’s fastest sports car. By 1956 he had already come up with a name for his car, it would be called the Cobra. Soon after his 1959 victory at the 24 Hours of LeMans for Aston Martin, Shelby was struck by heart problems. Reluctant to do so, he was forced to give up racing as a driver. This lifestyle setback turned out for the best, however, as Shelby had the opportunity to pursue his Cobra-building dreams.
A few years earlier and on the other side of the globe, John Tojeiro designed a small sports car, which sold under the AC Ace name. The open-top car was a simple tube-frame chassis with a Bristol 2.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine derived from the BMW M328 engine. The lightweight combination made the Ace a moderately successful racer. However, its success was jeopardized when BMW began phasing out the 2.0-liter. Other engines were tested, including American V-8s, but the AC Ace’s future seemed dim. So dim in fact, Tojeiro decided to end production of the car.
That’s when Shelby heard about the AC Ace and its lightweight design. He immediately contacted AC, along with his long-time associates at Ford Motor Company. He convinced AC to continue constructing the Ace and Ford to supply special versions of its Fairlane engine for installation in the AC chassis. Shelby and his team of engineers and builders shoehorned the V-8 into an AC at Shelby’s Venice, California shop. Of course, these early AC Ace cars were the roadsters that became known as the Shelby AC Cobra. The cars enjoyed a successful racing career, but could never outrun Enzo Ferrari, Shelby’s longtime Le Means rival, and his Ferrari 250 GTO.
That’s where the Shelby Daytona Coupe comes in. Shelby had Pete Brock design a more aerodynamic body for the AC Ace – one that would allow for higher top speeds at Le Mans’ Mulsanne Straight. The design worked, allowing the coupe to hit 190 mph. The car’s debut race would be the 1964 Daytona Continental 2000 at the famed Daytona international Speedway in Florida.
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Carroll Shelby is and will always remain a legend in the automotive industry. He took skill, dedication, and a little bit of good luck to produce some of the most amazing muscle cars that will ever be produced, from the very first Shelby Mustang produced in 1965. What Shelby did to Ford’s new Mustang was transform it from a less-than-stellar pony car to a limited edition Shelby GT350 R
The Mustangs built for the 1965-1966 model years were powered by a K-Code 271 engine modified to produce 306 HP, but the GT350 was a car not built for comfort or ease of driving, so the right place for it was the race track. This decision lead Ford to Shelby for the development of the Shelby GT350 R for the SCCA races.
Shelby American only built 34 units of these GT350R models, even though the SCCA rules required a total of 100 units to be built and raced. However, during an SCCA race weekend, the GT 350R proved what an amazing car it was as it competed at the highest level.
Hit the jump to read more about the 1965 Shelby GT350 R.
The Mustang was introduced to great fanfare in 1964, right in the middle of Ford’s ’Total Performance’ era. Despite its modest origins, Ford saw a performance future for it but their vision was obscured by the advent of the muscle car on America’s drag strips. The Mustang muscle credentials would soon be issued, but for the time being, the most muscle under its hood came from the high performance K-code 289 V-8, not enough to allow Mustangs to show their full potential on the drag strips.