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The Disappearing Shelby

Was it destroyed long ago?

This is a guest Post by one of our regulars Wallace Wyss.

 

The car wore number 17.

There are valuable Mustangs and among the most valuable are the GT350s made by Shelby in ’65 and ’66 when the car was still a rough tough sporty car, with no pretense at luxury whatsoever. But one of the most valuable Shelbys of these model years would be the ’66 raced by Claude Dubois of Belgium at the 24 Hours of LeMans in ‘67.

In 1967, Belgium Ford dealer (and Shelby Cobra and Shelby Mustang dealer) , Claude Dubois requested a GT350R Mustang so he could enter it in the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans. He was already the  exclusive direct distributor for Shelby- American in the so-called Benelux countries–Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg,so wanted the car donated as promotional material. Ford agreed and Ford in Antwerp asked Shelby but Shelby didn’t take the request all that seriously and sent a well used car, said to be #SFM5R539. Only when the racing underground said Dubois had filed entrance papers did Ol’ Shel realize  Dubois was serious and threw him some support.

The car looked relatively stock except for the fog lamps in the grille. Drivers were Dubois and Chris Tuerlinckx. Shelby’s team was there, big-time, but they were a mite busy running the Ford GT Mk.IV cars that won the race, so there was little they could do for Dubois. Alas all the effort was wasted when the car was listed as a Did Not Finish (DNF) and the results show it  finished in 42nd place due to a cracked transmission case. They completed 58 laps compared to almost 400 finished by the winning Ford GT Mk. IV  of Gurney and Foyt. 

You have to admit though that it would have been great promotion for Shelby if it had won. Ironically though Shelby had changed the styling for the ’67 Shelby so Ford and Shelby didn’t want to promote “last year’s model” so much, but you wonder how a ’67 would have done, if it was as raceable as this earlier one?

Note the mag wheels.

 

Did Mustangs ever make it at the Sarthe (nickname for the LeMans track)? One researcher says back in 1997 there were two Saleen / Tim Allen entries, from Tim Allen’s “racing period.”

Now the question for Shelby Mustang fans is: where is that LeMans racing Shelby? There are various rumors, none of which I have seen documentation on. One is that three Germans went together on it after Dubois lost faith in it, raced it, crashed it and the parts from it then went on to a Mustang notchback. One clue the crashed car  may have been the LeMans car is that the notchback had its two windshield wipers joined together like the Dubois LeMans entry. To make it more confusing, the notchback was later converted to a fastback again. The car was seen at a car event in Europe in 2004 and seems to have gone to ground again. It may yet re-emerge but its status  as a valuable piece of history may depend on how much of the original Shelby was used?

Check out the fog lamps.

 

The author wishes he could present more facts on this long missing car’s fate. He would love nothing more than  to see the original restored and running at Monterey in the Rolex Invitational or at Goodwood. Or even crossing the stage at  a major auction. I’m not going to give up that it exists because too many times, in researching barn finds, I find cars that the world’s leading experts list as “destroyed:” (such as the GT40 targa that Bondurant crashed in the Targa Florio in ’65) only to see them found later and the authors who listed it so definitively as destroyed then has to eat crow. Any clues to the LeMans racing Mustang whereabouts or history appreciated.

 

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of Incredible Barn Finds , and The Baroness and the Mercedes and 49 Other Barn Find stories, both available from Enthusiast Books.

 

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Richard

I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check our our www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com page) As long as it has four wheels on it I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife Katriana is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out with our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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