In late 1964, Shelby American began production of the very first Shelby GT350 Mustangs, at the behest of Lee Iacocca at the Ford Motor Company. Ford’s aim was to build the requisite number of cars to homologate the Mustang for Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) production sports car racing. Iacocca wanted the Mustang to be represented in circuit racing as part of its massive programme spanning everything from Le Mans 24 Hours, through to NASCAR stock car racing and NHRA drag racing. When Iacocca tried to bulldoze the SCCA, he was flatly turned down. The Mustang, he was told, wasn’t a sports car. To that end, he went to Carroll Shelby, a racing legend and producer of Ford-powered Cobra sports cars, and had him tackle the problem instead.

Where Iacocca failed, Shelby succeeded. He was held in high regard at the SCCA, and was told that, provided it fitted the requirements (most notably that it have only two seats and that a minimum 100 cars be built by 1 January, 1965), the Mustang would indeed be eligible to compete with the SCCA as a sports car.

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