In 1966, the Trans-Am series (Trans-American Sedan Championship) featured seven well-known road races throughout the United States. The races were divided into two groups, Group I and Group II, and the details can get a little confusing. Shelby built 26 notchbacks for both of these two groups. All of this took place two years before game-changing driver Parnelli Jones and before the domestic car rivalry between GM’s Camaro and the Dodge Challenger.
Carroll Shelby sent project engineer Chuck Cantwell over to a downtown Los Angeles Ford dealer with $5,000 where he returned with a blue notchback with a Hi-Po 289 under the hood. The car was then stripped down and given the Shelby 289 V8 capable of 350 hp. Koni Shocks, a Detroit “No-Spin” rear diff, and a 3.89 ring and pinion were also added.
Finished in May of 1966, several of these Mustangs were sold to privateers, These cars performed well during endurance racing and earned a manufacturer championship. Ford didn’t mind cashing in on this publicity even though they had built GT350s for the SCCA Class B to nearly these exact specs. Even testing at Willow Springs proved that these cars churned out nearly-identical times.
Shelby built 26 examples of these cars with this example being No. 24 ready to hit Auctions America in Burbank, CA on August 2nd. All were painted Wimbledon White and came with fully-equipped black interiors complete with dash, door panels and backseat. Driver Fred Sutherland purchased this car for $4,000 and since it was delivered late, Carroll threw in a free paint job. This car went on to win the 1967 Riverside Grand Prix. Sutherland then sold it two years later but made sure to set an SCCA lap record at Willow Springs before doing so.
The new owner kept the car on track and after 50 years, the car was worse for wear. Sutherland decided to buy the car back for $135,000, much more than the $4,000 he dropped 50 years ago when it was brand new. He spent even more to get it fully restored and back to former glory.
The car is now capable of an impressive 487 horsepower with the Top-Loader, four-speed and dual Holley carbs. That’s more power than it produced when Cantwell juiced it up to 425 back in the day.
This car is expected to go between $250,000-$300,000 when it crosses the auction block.