The Ken Miles Shelby GT350R goes up for Auction

 TGR Staff

Mecum Auctions announced that this Spring they will be auctioning off the first 1965 Shelby GT350R Competition Model ever built. Driven by Ken Miles and dubbed the “Flying Mustang,” this piece of automotive history will be cross the block at Mecum's Indianapolis Auction May 12th-17th.

The GT350R is part of the John Atzbach collection which includes several other incredibly rare Shelbys including the only production factory supercharged 1965 GT350, the first production 1966 GT350, a factory supercharged 1966 GT350, the first 1966 GT350 convertible, and the final 1970 Shelby GT350. Besides the Mustangs the Atzbach collection also includes a competition 289 Cobra, two Lamborghinis, and approximately 15,000 items ranging from rare Shelby artifacts to original and authentic vintage automotive signs and collectibles.

The GT350R was piloted by the legendary Ken Miles at Green Valley Raceway on Feb. 14, 1965. This marked the first time any Shelby Mustang was entered into a sanctioned competitive event. Amazingly, Miles took the car to a dominating first-place finish and, en route to the win, was captured in one of motorsports history’s most memorable photos showing Miles and the Mustang airborne with all four tires of the car lifted clear off the ground. The first competition Shelby Mustang, the first to be raced, and the first to win, 5R002 simultaneously served as Shelby American’s factory engineering mule, a rolling test bed for ideas and components, including those that would constitute both the second team car (5R001) and all 34 customer R-models. Ken Miles, Bob Bondurant, Chuck Cantwell, Peter Brock, Jerry Titus, and several other world-class drivers drove this car extensively in testing and development. In fact, Titus would not have earned the 1965 B-Production SCCA National Championship title had it not been for his early victories throughout the year in 5R002. Indeed, after 5R002 entered and won that first historic race, it paved the way for the rest of Carroll Shelby’s GT350s to dominate their class across both North America and Europe, giving rise to the Shelby name and motoring legacy while drastically altering the public perception of the Mustang forever.

5R002 is an automobile so historically significant that accurately and completely summarizing its eminence can be difficult because of the many reasons for which it is important. To simplify, 5R002 is The Ken Miles R-Model. Few, if any, cars are so intertwined with the legendary and essentially mythical figure that is Ken Miles. Today, Miles is revered as one of the greatest figures in racing that the world has ever known, one who tragically died at the height of his career. 5R002 stands today as one of the most significant and historic competition cars ever constructed by Shelby American Inc. The car represents a legendary convergence of a chicken farmer from Texas, a gang of Southern California Hot Rodders ready to take the fight to the Corvette, a driver the likes of which we may never see again and a “secretary’s car” that thought it could fly.