Don’t call it a replica: Jay Leno drives a continuation Mustang GT350 competition

With just 36 built the first time around, the Shelby-built Mustang GT350 competition cars are flat out rare. This week on Jay Leno’s Garage is a visit from the team who was there building the GT350 over 50 years ago. Now the Original Venice Crew is back together for a second run of 36.

Carroll Shelby was on a tear in 1965. The British/American mashup Cobra was competing on the world stage and served to strengthen the relationship between Shelby and Ford. Ford wanted to take the Mustang racing, and it was natural for Shelby to be the company’s first call. In a corner of one of Shelby American’s shops in Venice, California, the GT350 was born.

Just 36 GT350 competition cars rolled out of the shop, which means they command a mean premium from collectors. For those in search of a similar experience with a lesser price tag, a group of guys from that very same Venice shop have reassembled. They call themselves the Original Venice Crew and are creating an additional 36 cars in a second run of newly assembled cars that replicate the originals.

The front air dam is one of the changes, and is something that Peter Brock himself fought to change on these continuation cars. He claims this air dam was on his drawing board but wasn’t done in time to make it on the cars. The rear window is also altered to remove a bubble that the team claims should have never been on the original cars. Upgrades to brakes and the engine also bring the continuation cars into a more potent category.

From watching their visit to Jay’s garage, it’s clear Jay is a fan of the new car—which means something because he owns one of the original 36. While these modern-assembled cars are street legal and therefore have mufflers, the sound emitting from the car’s side-exit exhaust is a mean snarl that escalates with a sharp crescendo as Jay rows the four-speed shift lever.

Of course, all this awesome doesn’t come cheap—$250,000, to be exact—but can you really put a price on having the same guys work on your GT350 that were taking them racing 50 years ago? We got to drive this very same car and think that it is worth a premium especially considering a continuation car comes in a cool $750,000 under a #1-condition GT350R. Take the savings and buy gas to go drive.