As successful as the Mustang was in its first year, there was one influential segment of the car-buying population not exactly head over heels for it: car guys. They saw through the Mustang to its humble beginnings as the economy Falcon.
But then Lee Iacocca had Carroll Shelby turn a batch of 1965 K-code Mustang fastbacks into the all-conquering Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) B Production champion competition model (a.k.a. the R model) 1965 GT350s. These 36 cars, the legend they created, and the 504 nearly identical street 1965 GT350s established the performance halo the Mustang retains to this day.
In the process, they turned Shelby American from a small boutique sports car builder into a brand that has not only endured but thrives some 55 years later.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared as part of the 25 Greatest Mustangs cover story in the July/August issue of Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. You can find the other entries here.]