History of the First
1965 GT350; 5S003
1965 GT350 Mustang
"By the Numbers"
Other 1965 GT350
1965 GT350 Mustang "By the Numbers" (Updated: 7/13/21)
I bet the former Shelby American employees who read this part of the web site, will be amazed on how many production variations we have tracked down which occurred during the roughly seven months the 1965 GT350's were constructed. The production line workers, for the most part, were less concerned about these subtle changes over the development of the 1965 cars. The main focus was to get the cars finished and out the door as soon as possible. Most of the former employees I have had the chance to talk to have mentioned working on the GT350 's or the Cobras was not a big deal back then, they were just cars being sent through a production line. No one had an idea these cars would still be so popular and valuable forty years later, nor did they feel anyone would be interested in the details of how one batch of cars varied from another batch. I have heard from one source, there was a time schedule for the employees working on the production line listing the time allowed for lowering the a arms, welding in the traction bars etc. Shelby American was in the business of producing cars, the variations listed below were not of importance back then.
Most of the ideas and numbers listed below are considered to be the best educated conclusions that we can currently offer. Times change and so will some of the thoughts listed below. A few people that have offered their insights below have followed these cars since they were new or were original owners, the input from these individuals are great sources of information. Other people have restored a few of these cars or have watched local GT350's come and go over the years. Working and documenting original cars can provide the most information on how a small group of cars may have looked when they left Shelby American.
Once a GT350 is stripped of one of its unique part(s), years down the road, a future owner will most likely try to get the car back to its former glory. There is always the chance the part replaced years later may not be exactly like the one originally on the car. It is for that reason, looking at all original cars, will give us the most insight. On the other side of the coin, not much was consistent during the production of the 1965 GT350's, some supplies of parts, like front sway bars, may have been available in large quantities, whereas the fiberglass hoods or the wood wheels, may have encountered shortages at times. Remember, the parts that made it on a particular GT350 were the ones closest to the worker who was putting them on the car, there was no attempt to put all the similar types of parts on consecutive cars as they went down the line.
1965 GT350 Mustang Production Figures
The production run started in late December 1964 and was finished by July 9, 1965.
Wheels vs. Stripes from the factory records
From the SAAC Shelby American World Registry, 1997. At the time this was finished it represented 90% of the 1965 GT350's produced.
GT350 Mustang Unique Part Production Variations - if possible with serial numbers
According to Howard Pardee, Shelby American and Ford records show there were actually 18 batches of Mustangs delivered to Shelby American during 1964-1965. Some of these groups are large and some are as small as one car. I have reduced this down to five major groups in the production run of the 1965 GT350's.
Serial Number Plate Variations
004 - 031 had no "S" designation on the plate. From 032 on, there were "S" and "R" stamped into the plate. Around the end of May, 1965, Jerry Schwarz was asked by Chuck Cantwell to add serial number plates to 001,002 & 003. It was at this point the proper VIN plates were not applied to the corresponding chassis whose numbers were written on the firewall
001 to about 113 had the 16-inch Cobra 289, slotted, wood wheel with the aluminum hub.
109 - 256 for the most part had the slightly flatter dished 15-inch wood wheel with three holes present per spoke with the chrome plated steel hub.
257 - 562 had the 15-inch slotted wood wheel with chrome steel hub.
Most of the 1965 GT350 wood steering wheels were manufactured by Moto Lita except for the early 16-inch wheels which were made by Darrington. There were production variations in the thickness of the wood used for the steering wheels. The early GT350's with the 16-inch Cobra wood wheel had an aluminum center section which connected to each one of the spokes and was visible when viewing the outside rim of the wheel. The wood used in the serial number range of car #280 used very thin wood which resulted in flexing of the wood while the car was being driven. Later in production, the wheels showed up with thicker wood once again.
Front Sway Bars
There were two variations of the 1-inch front sway bars. The early version had less metal near the circular opening at each end of the sway bar. Chuck Cantwell feels there may have been a breakage problem or a weakness noted so a second version was created with more metal around the holes of the bar. Rough production serial number breakout is not known for when this occurred. The supplier of the sway bar was Bill Stroppe.
The Koni shocks for the Mustang were already in production prior to the initial run of Mustangs going through Shelby American. Various stamped date codes have been seen on unmodifed cars. The very early GT350's would have had shocks dated 11/64 or12/64? Mid production GT350's could have had Konis dated 3/65 and/or 4/65, a car could have easily had mismatched dated shocks. Later production GT350's had a date on the Konis of ????
Trunk Mounted Battery
This modification was seen on the cars with serial numbers approximately 001-338 (with a few under #200 not having this done), as well as all the competition versions. Complaints were presented to Shelby American about battery fumes coming into the interior of the early GT350's. The battery relocation was also found to be one of the more time consuming modifications on the 1965 GT350. In the interest in saving production time and since the COBRA battery caps did not solve the problem, the battery was retained in the front of the car. We may have determined a link on the trunk mounted battery cars question, it may be related to the Ford serial number. The earlier batches of Ford VIN's may have received the trunk mounted battery, the later ones did not. It will take some time to try to sort this out.
Cobra Battery Caps
It may take some time to determine the breakout of the serial numbers of the GT350's that received the pair of Cobra battery caps in an attempt to vent the battery fumes out of the trunk and decrease the possibility of entering the driver's compartment. A pair of the Cobra battery caps were pushed on to the location of where the Autolite screw caps originally were. Two holes were drilled next to the battery tray so rubber vent tubes could be passed through. Holes should not be drilled in GT350's that do not show evidence of having them originally, this way the run of Cobra cap cars may someday be determined. We have information they started as early as car #142 and progressed through the remainder of the trunk mounted battery cars. Interestingly enough, Howard Pardee has found an invoice for payment for 500 Cobra battery caps, (enough for 250 cars) Once the battery was retained at the front of the car, there was no use for the remainder of the inventory of battery caps, we have never seen these mentioned in any advertisement put out by Shelby American, what ever happen to the rest of them?
Another variation in the 1965 GT350 production which will be difficult to determine is in regards to the hoods, since there was considerable overlap on which types were used. Chuck Cantwell remembers one supplier by the name of Tex, who was quite a character but had problems with consistent production quantities.
The early "porthole" hoods were all fiberglass and had a flat metal meshwork grille for the hood scoop plenum opening, visible on the underside of the hood, when the hood is raised. About halfway through the production of these hoods, an extra rib was added in the center of the sub-frame that extended from the front of the scoop opening to the very center of the hood. Chuck Cantwell felt this may have been an adaptation to reduce the flexing of the hood when the car was at speed. Roughly the serial number spread is from 001 - 121.
A full fiberglass hood with no meshwork, but a full opening present for the scoop was used sporadically, from cars #113 - 500.
Perhaps the most widely used hood for the 1965 GT350 was the metal sub-frame/with the fiberglass overlay top type. No meshwork was present for these hoods either, but the extra rib remained. This type of hood was seen in most of the cars from #122 - 562.
Tachometer and Oil Pressure Gauge Pod
Initially designed by Peter Brock in clay, it was later determined to be a cost savings to produce it in fiberglass, but it was later found to crack, warp, and distort from the heat of the of the sun through the windshield. A change to ABS plastic was made sometime later in production. When found, #284, still had its original cracked, distorted fiberglass pod. The transition of the pod from fiberglass to ABS may never be known, but Howard Pardee was helpful with the cars he has owned, #350 had a fiberglass pod, while #357 had the ABS pod when he bought the car brand new.
The tachometer and oil pressure gauge was subcontracted to Delco, while the pod was thought to have be made by Berry Plasti-Glass.
Kelsey Hayes Steel Wheels
Initially, the standard wheel for the 1965 GT350 was the K-H, 5.50” X 15” steel wheels, later in production there was a K-H,6.00” X 15”. The changeover took place on the cars that started with a Ford serial number of 217XXX
There were three types of the three inch aircraft seatbelts used on the 1965 GT350, most were chrome plated. The hardware used to attach the belts to the eyebolts varied, some had larger "ears" on the wings than others. Another area that was seen as a variation was the roughly square patch of black leather for the latching mechanism. This leather piece has been seen on the latching arm of the belt as well as on the other side where the latch locks into. It has also been observed on original cars that both types may be present. The supplier contracted for the belts was Ray Brown Automotive in Pomona, California.
There were two variations of rear shelves, both had a fiberglass overlay pattern. On the back side of the spare tire carrier, as viewed when the trunk is open, a fine cloth-like appearance is seen. The variation is that there were two different textures produced. The shelves were made by Berry Plasti-Glass in Long Beach, California. Some of the reproductions were made by a chopper gun, the detail on the back of the spare tire carrier is one of irregular patterns being visible.
Fold Down Seat Locking Mechanism Delete Plate
Early production cars, up to about #100, had the delete plate made out of fiberglass whereas the cars after this point had a metal textured plate resembling the metal used on the inside top portion of the Mustang doors. Four pop rivets held both types of these plates in place.
Borg Warner T-10 Transmission
Generally, most 1965 GT350's had all aluminum cased transmissions. Some GT350's had a mixture of the front case being aluminum, the tail shaft being steel, and vise versa. This may have been a result of supply vs. demand at the Borg Warner plant, prior to the transmissions being sent directly to San Jose, in order that they could be mounted in the Mustangs as they rolled down the assembly line.
Oil Pressure Sending Unit Line
The early version of the oil sending line measured 1/2", the later version had lines that were 7/16" in diameter. Both lines were produced by Aeroquip.
Midway through the 1965 GT350 production, Ford began using a differential case which utilized a larger inside and outside diameter side bearings. This resulted in having to use a different sized Detroit Locker also.
Traction Bar Arm Seals
In order to decrease side exhaust fumes, road noise and water splashing into the car's interior, Goodyear inner tubes were slit and pop riveted around the traction bar arms. Car #284 had these. The rubber tubes were an easy choice since Carroll Shelby was the West coast's largest Goodyear distributor. Later in production, it was determined these rubber patches were not sufficient, so a molded rubber boot was utilized, this was introduced around car #???.
Rear GT350 ID Plate - near the passenger rear taillight
The early cars up to about # ?? did not receive this GT350 plate, which required two small holes to be drilled into the rear tail light panel. Howard Pardee believes this emblem may have been a dealer installed item.
Variations in the "small COBRA lettered" intake for the 1965 GT350 street cars had to do with the location of the firing order embossed onto the intake as well as the S1MS-9424-A part number.
The very early GT350 Mustangs, up to about serial number ??, did not have a Shelby part number on the Cobra intakes. These were also the manifolds used for the 289 Cobra street cars as the optional "hi-rise intake" while the cars were at the Venice factory.
Most of the 1965 GT350 production intake manifolds had the Shelby American part number on the top of the rear runner behind the carburetor. The firing order was usually located on the far back, top, flat pad of the intake. Areas to look at if an intake is an original or a reproduction is the opening where the carburetor is mounted. The original intakes have four circular holes whereas the reproductions have oval slots openings. The 1965 and early 1966 intakes also have a stamping on the underside, near the front. It is on a round, about 1 inch in diameter, plug like casting. It reads OECO , which in short, stands for Offenhauser Equipment Company, the manufacturer of the manifold. The intakes were machined by Dearborn Steel Tubing. My intake also has the letters J N as well as A WL, which may have been stamped years later as a means of keeping track of it. The rear of the small lettered intake has another one of these 1" raised round plug castings, mine has a strange 303 with a very, very small 6 next to that.
Just for comparison purposes, the competition GT350 intake had no PCV hole or electric water temperature sending unit holes drill and tapped. PCV valves were not used on the race cars. Water temperature was monitored by a mechanical gauge which had its sending unit installed in the hole usually used by the heater hose.
Numbers? You want more numbers?
Let's look at the part numbers that comprised the 1965 GT350, there were two main groups: (1) The standard Ford part numbers which were used on the Mustang as well as the new GT350, some of the parts were assigned in 1964, others were in 1965. An example of this is the stock Mustang running horse fender emblem that was relocated to the drivers side front grille on the GT350, it carried a C4ZB-16228-A on the back of the emblem. The "C" stood for the decade of use being the 1960"s, "B" would have been the 1950's, while "D" was the 1970's. The "4" stood for the year within the decade, hence C4=1964, C5=1965. The "Z" spot was the designation for the model the part was used for and the "Z" was set aside for the Mustang. The "B" refers to the point of initiation of the part, the "B" stood for a body/electrical part whereas an "E" was meant for an engine part, an "R" was related to a manual transmission. The 4 or 5 digit basic number is even broken down, 16000=fender parts, hood, front extensions, latches etc., whereas the 10000 series is for electrical parts and 4000= was set aside for rear end parts. The "A" stands for the revision number A=one revision, B would mean there were two revisions. Over the years, these numbers could change, if you purchased one of these emblems new from Ford in the mid 1990's , they usually had a C8ZB-16628-A part number.
The second group of parts that set the 1965 GT350 aside from the regular Mustangs were the Shelby American parts, which carried their own unique numbering system.
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