With the sale of 5R002 at the Mecum Auction in Florida in January of 2022—at a record breaking price for any Mustang of $4 Million dollars—it is altogether proper to offer a short history of 5R002 and its sister car, 5S003, both of which went from restorations to Concours winners.
When I learned Mark Hovander and John Atzbach bought the Shelbys of their dreams, I thought to myself, “One of them would be great; both of them in the same place at the same time would be historic. Together again for the first time in 45 years—what an opportunity this is, little more than a year away from the 50th anniversary of the Mustang GT350.”
I didn‘t know at the time that Mark and John planned to show the cars together as they were when they acquired them, then restore them as accurately as possible to the way they were built by Chuck Cantwell’s team in Shelby American’s Princeton Avenue race shop. I also didn’t know they would then show both cars together at the most important Concours events in North America. Dream achieved.
Atzbach told me at the time that “it felt like winning a gold medal at the Olympics” after 5R002 was awarded Best in Class at Pebble Beach with a 1-2 finish. 5S003 was awarded second place.
Just getting the Pebble Beach committee to display a car as “pedestrian” in their eyes as a Mustang was a monumental achievement, and one which required extensive lobbying by the car collectors who love them. What prominent car collector would own a Mustang? Jay Leno? Bobby Rahal? Bruce Meyers? All three?
I won’t bore you with yet another account of the history and significance of 5R002 and 5S003. That is all well documented; most Mustang enthusiasts know the history or can find it easily. However, I can try to add something to the narrative with an account of the period when these two cars were restored from racers to Concours competitors—a process I was fortunate enough to witness.
Peter Brock Signs a Hood
Shelby American driver Alan Grant invited the Washington Shelby Club to visit his shop in Sequim, Washington, when Dave Lennarts owned 5S003 (pre-restoration). Below is a photo of Peter Brock signing the hood of 5S003.
Where is that hood now? Under penalty of a lost driver’s license, I cannot say.
Heads turned when both cars showed up at the Kirkland Concours before restoration. Every man in the house wanted to push 5R002 onto the show field to be able to say they put a hand on it. The car was a shell in primer over rust. But it was still 5R002. Here it is below, displayed with 5S003 when it was still a race car.
Driving 5S003 on public roads, even just along Lake Washington through downtown Kirkland, is quite an experience: glasspacks, headers, 12 to 1 pistons, solid lifters, race gas, down a narrow street lined with two story buildings. The side exhaust reverberates off store fronts; it must have nearly shaken the plate glass out of the frames. It was LOUD. And BAD. And rough riding.
This car is a monster—not quite an “R” Model, but definitely a vintage race GT350. It’s really fun, but keep your eyes on the road, not on the people with gaping mouths, frozen on the sidewalk as you cruise by with a smile on your face.
Modern supercars are great rides. They do not excite people the way 5S003 did in vintage race spec. I do like analogue cars—but for short rides, not for driving across the state. Think loss of hearing and kidney pain.
“How fast does it go?” the TV host asked.
“Don’t know,” I said. “Couldn’t top it out on Lake Washington Boulevard.”
“Speedometer says 160. I’ll go with that,” she decided.
I choose not to correct a hot-looking TV anchor. We could have been on camera or an open mike. People have been shamed for less. What do I know, anyway? 160 in a vacuum, maybe. In Musk’s hyper tube. Depends on the RMP limit and how it’s geared.
I admit to being nervous about driving 5S003 through downtown Kirkland. I have not driven many cars worth more than $500,000. What do I say to Hovander if I’m T-boned by a distracted driver in a Honda Accord?
Hard to imagine that a Honda driver would not hear this car coming—but in the age of texting and driving, it could happen. The way some people drive, it looks like they could run into a 747 without seeing or hearing anything before they look up at the inside of the landing gear housing.
In the Garage
My neighbors had no idea what this ratty old Mustang was doing in my garage. Made me wonder if I needed garage security. What would Shelby do? But 5S003 made it to the metal shop without being stolen, and I slept better afterwards.
Over a 10 year period, Hovander scoured the country collecting documentation and speaking with everyone alive he could find who worked for Shelby American and remembered how the car looked when Shelby American still owned it. His goal? To restore it from a vintage race car to the way it looked in 1965 as the prototype of the GT350.
This has to be one of the most documented cars in existence. Hundreds of photos were taken to compare with a large number of vintage photos from when Shelby American owned the car. Could a banzai charge be more fanatical?
Amelia Island Concours
After more than a year of restoration work and decades of separation, the finished products were finally displayed together.
Oh, crap! A flat tire on the Amelia Island awards field? A multi-million car. A zillion dollar restoration, more than a year in progress. How could this happen?
5R002 was named the best race car of the show. 5S003 was given a special historic car award.
“The Olympics” at Pebble Beach
5R003 was judged “Best in Class” and 5S003 was judged Second Best in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance. And they said Pebble would never have a Mustang class—ha!
Still, at Pebble Beach, is there really a second in class? They are all winners.
Laguna Seca: The Bridge Photo
I’ll end this tale with the Michelin Bridge Photo—a once-a-year event at Laguna Seca (now WeatherTech) race track in August, the day before the 4-day Monterey Rolex Vintage Race event. It’s a gathering of the make of car that is featured in the event, which, that year, happened to be the GT350.
This must be one of the largest groups of GT350s ever assembled. You can see 5S002 in the lower right corner.
Of special interest is that there are three #98 cars in the photo. Parked on angle in the front of the group are #98BP (identifiable by a unique aerodynamic front bumper designed by Peter Brock) and #98i (the only IRS GT350).
Both 5R002 and 5S003 went on to win numerous awards at various Concours in North America. Everything the owners could do with them on the car show circuit, they did.
Both 5R002 and 5S003 were later sold.5R002 went on to record the highest price ever achieved by a Mustang at auction. It moved the record up again at Mecum January of 2022. 5S003 went to a new owner in Florida in a private sale. And the story will continue to go on from there.
Where is 5R001? What is its history? What condition is it in? Why isn’t it out there racing or on display? Will the public ever have a chance to see it?