Project Vintage Race Mustang: What About Racing a Real Shelby?

Update by Tim Suddard to the Ford Mustang Fastback project car
Dec 18, 2020

Before we picked up our 1965 Ford Mustang, we considered finding a real Shelby and racing that instead. So, let’s do the numbers.

A battered and beat early Shelby Mustang can be found for less than $100,000. At this price point, it will have some combination of incorrect major components, like the engine, and accident and or rust damage.

A standard Mustang in okay to good condition will cost between $10,000 and $20,000. It will also be in way better condition than that six-figure Shelby.

Preparing both for track will, more or less, cost the same. But the final values will differ: A race-ready, standard Mustang will be worth about $75,000, whereas the Shelby could fetch at least twice that figure. A real Shelby is simply welcome at more vintage race events, but damaging it on track will be much more heart-breaking.

The Mustang aftermarket, but the way, is loaded with inexpensive replica parts for almost every inch of an early Mustang. Places like NPD can get you what you need the next day, at low prices that will shock a Porsche or Jaguar racer.

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View comments on the GRM forums
noddaz GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
12/18/20 10:17 a.m.

And a brand new Mustang shell is $17,500 + whatever it takes to make it a whole car.

Not knocking racing a Shelby, that is what they are for.  Just another option.

frenchyd PowerDork
12/18/20 12:31 p.m.

In reply to Tim Suddard :

Damage any race car and it doesn't much matter the cost of the repair will be what costs are. David Love had his multi million dollar Ferrari TR damaged in a vintage race and they rolled out the damage keeping the sheet metal original.  What did it sell for 47 million?  
Since Mustang fenders abound,  damaging a Mustang or a Shelby is the same cost but having one with an active race history will expose it to more people with the potential to pay the market price and the ability to pay the price.  
     Augie Pabst and I were discussing the same subject. As you know he raced one of the Scarabs  and then when Vintage racing happened he refreshed it and continued to race it.  ( with subtle updates)  he said that if he rolled it into a ball back then he thought it would cost him $200,000 to duplicate it as good as new. That's a lot to a wage slave but my Black Jack I knew I could reproduce for $50,000 or less.    
        My advice. Go real if you can. It's the only way you'll get into some major events. 

gearheadmb SuperDork
12/18/20 2:39 p.m.

I dont know anything about vintage racing and its classing and safety regs. Would you have to weld in a roll cage? In 65 and 66 I think traction bars, some front spring tower braces, and lowering the upper control arm mounting holes were the only things shelby's had that you couldn't get for a regular mustang from the factory. Everything else was decorative. Those pieces can be had from the aftermarket for less than $500. I wouldn't consider taking a shelby survivor car and making a racecar out of it. Besides the possibility of balling up or burning down an investment grade car, why start with a vehicle that costs $80,000 extra with no advantage? Not very grassrooty.

frenchyd PowerDork
12/18/20 2:57 p.m.

In reply to gearheadmb :

Yes at a minimum if it has the original SCCA rollcage with embossed numbers that's allowed but lacking that the rollcage has to be pretty much up to. current SCCA standards. 
 As far as a roll it in a ball type accident it would cost the same to fix either car.  Because in the end it's the data plate that determines what car is what. That's why normal people could race a 50 million dollar car because rebuilding it would only cost what rebuilding any similar car would cost. Even in the 1960's there were more D type Jaguar than the factory built. One particular car was recreated 3 times. With each owner having a semi legitimate claim of originality.  The Factory built 54 DType Jaguars and at last count I heard of  62 cars claiming   Original status. Considering the Millions they currently sell for that's a lot of funny money.  

Tom1200 Dork
12/18/20 3:32 p.m.

Current "vintage" race cars are way more highly developed then the originals.  If you run a car as it was back in the day it's likely going to be woefully uncompetitive.  Materials have progressed to the point that the cars can be tuned harder than they ever were because they won't break. Simply taking a plain old 66 Mustang and bolting on the goodies won't get you anywhere near the front of the grid. Even the budget class Mustang Tim is building won't likely be very budget by our standards.

As for the safety regs; the cages for these cars usually need to meet modern safety standards.


gearheadmb SuperDork
12/18/20 4:29 p.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

Ok, I didn't know if there was any rules making it necessary to keep it "showroom stock". Since there isn't then there isn't any advantage to having a real shelby over a normal mustang as far as racing is concerned. 

frenchyd PowerDork
12/18/20 5:09 p.m.

In reply to gearheadmb :

Some events nope.  The big events? Absolutely. To enter there provenance is everything. 

2/28/21 10:50 a.m.

In reply to noddaz :


who sells a new Mustang shell for $17.500 ?

I would like to purchase.


NOT A TA SuperDork
2/28/21 11:42 a.m.

In reply to makethembetter :

Dynacorn makes them.

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