THOMASTON, CT – Tom DeLuca of Thomaston has a long list of reasons for buying a 1970 Shelby GT 350.
“They’re rare. They have unique styling. Very nice performance. They’re collectible. They’re worth a good bit of money. And they’re just not very common. It’s a unique automobile,” he said back in mid-October as he stood beside the sparkling candy apple red example parked in his driveway.
A “MotorTrend” magazine story a decade ago called the performance variant of the Ford Mustang “a rarity.” The Shelby GT 350 was built between by 1965 and 1970, with the costlier Shelby GT 500 sibling being sold between 1967 and 1970.
Upgrades and styling modifications came from automotive designer Carroll Shelby’s shop in California, which later relocated to Michigan.
“MotorTrend” reported that “only 789 were produced” for the 1970 model year. And, according to DeLuca, only 33 were sold in candy apple red with gold side stripes and white interior, “so it’s pretty uncommon car.”
DeLuca bought the Shelby GT 350 in May 2019 as a gift to himself after retiring from a job at the United Nations in New York City. “The car originally was sold through Jim Turner Ford in Kansas City,” he said, adding that the Shelby GT 350 spent time in Alaska before he picked it up out of Florida.
The car didn’t require much attention. “When I got the car, it was just about done,” he said, although the motor did need to be rebuilt. He also added different rims.
In actuality, DeLuca’s Shelby GT 350 began as a 1969 model. “It was unsold; was brought back to Ford and updated to the 1970 standard,” he said. That meant being “re-VINed” for the 1970 model year.
It also got a new front chin spoiler and unique hood striping from Ford, which by this time had parted ways with Shelby while retaining the Shelby name and badging on the leftovers. Shelby GT models looked significantly more robust than the Mustang.
“The hood, the front fenders, the front valance, the side scoops, the quarter panel end caps, the tail light body panel, the trunk, they’re all fiber glass unlike the regular production Mustangs,” DeLuca reported.
“It also has an integral roll bar inside with inertia harnesses,” he continued. There was also “unique gauging and badging to the car as well as some performance tweaks.”
The model has five scoops in the hood. There’s a ram-air intake, two cold air inlets and two hot air extractors in the rear.
While the Shelby GT 350 came with a small block 289-cubic-inch V8 engine for the first two years of existence, the engine size increased as the years passed. DeLuca’s model has 351-cubic-inch Windsor V8 with automatic transmission. It also has Kelsey Hayes Magstar wheels.
DeLuca estimated that he only drives his Shelby GT 350 between 400 and 500 miles a year. He takes it to car shows, out to lunch, and to visit friends and relatives. “Of course, it only goes out on dry days, sunny days; never on wet roads,” he said, adding that it never gets hose washed. “I’m very careful about all of that.”
The car’s limited use is understandable. Hagerty Insurance values the model in good shape at $65,400 but pegs it at $102,000 in Concours condition. J.D. Power, meanwhile, puts the average retail price at a heftier $112,600. At auction the 1970 model has fetched upwards of $200,000, far more than the model’s original $4,500 base price.
When he does drive it, DeLuca enjoys the Shelby GT 350. “Nice handling. It’s got a wide track on it, wide stance, wide rubber on it, and the car handles very nicely for its era,” he said.
See the 1970 Ford Shelby GT 350 in action in this YouTube video…
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