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Shelby’s ‘Original Venice Crew’ challenges Jaguar and Aston Martin for charity

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Ted Sutton (L) and Jim Marietta pose with the OVC Shelby G.T. 350 C/M. Photos courtesy OVC Mustangs unless otherwise noted.

Introduced years apart and competing in different classes, it isn’t likely that a Shelby G.T. 350R, a Jaguar D-type and an Aston Martin DB4 GT ever fought for a race win in-period. Today, all three are available as OEM-built or licensed continuation cars, leading to an interesting challenge from “Original Venice Crew” (OVC) CEO Jim Marietta: Bring your reborn racers and compete against the new-old Shelby in a 10-lap dogfight at Southern California’s Willow Springs International Raceway, and the winner gets bragging rights plus a generous donation to the charity of its choice.

Announced in 2017, the OVC continuation Shelby G.T. 350R (which the company is now referring to as the G.T. 350 C/M, or Competition Model) is available with parts not offered on the original car due to cost and development time. First and foremost is an independent rear suspension, prototyped by Ford Advanced Vehicles for the 1965 Shelby – and even announced to the public – but dropped when development costs ballooned from $15,000 to roughly $85,000. There’s also a revised front valance and plexiglass rear and quarter windows – all designed by Peter Brock – that should improve engine cooling, brake cooling and top speed.

OVC Shelby GT 350 CM Mustang

Underneath, the OVC G.T. 350 C/M begins as a 1965 Ford Mustang fastback, ideally a K-code body shell if available. After being stripped, repaired as needed and refinished in Wimbledon White with a blue stripe, each receives a 289 V-8 (unless the buyer requests something more potent) and a new interior, with the buyer choosing between the original’s live rear axle and the optional IRS. Licensed by both the Ford Motor Company and Carroll Shelby Licensing, just 36 examples (the same number of G.T. 350Rs built in 1960s) will be constructed, each with a starting price of $250,000.

Which, relatively speaking, is a bargain compared to the $1.9 million asking price for the continuation Aston Martin DB4 GT, announced in late 2016, or the roughly $1.4 million commanded by a continuation Jaguar D-type, announced earlier this year. Like the Shelby, both models are limited production, with stated runs of 25 copies each. The Jaguar will remain as mechanically true to the original build as possible, while the Aston Martin will offer buyers modern performance, handling, braking and safety features, while maintaining the “feel and character” of the 1959 original.

Aston Martin DB4 GT

An original Aston Martin DB4 GT. Photo courtesy Aston Martin.

Should either company accept Marietta’s challenge, the rules are simple: Ten laps at Willow Springs, using a driver appointed by each manufacturer, with the first to cross the finish line declared the winner. Should either Jaguar or Aston Martin take the checkered flag first, the OVC team will donate $100,000 to the charity of the winner’s choosing. If the Shelby wins, in addition to money donated by Jaguar or Aston Martin, the OVC team will still donate $35,000 to the Carroll Shelby Foundation and other charities.

Marietta says the idea behind the challenge was inspired by Carroll Shelby’s “everyman” sensibility, adding, “During an illustrious racing career where Shelby drove and won in anything and everything, Carroll developed a profound preference for cubic inches over cubic money. That preference was infused into every vehicle rolling out of Shelby American’s shop, beginning with the Cobra and soon thereafter, the Shelby G.T. 350.”

Jaguar D-type continuation

The engineering prototype of Jaguar’s D-type continuation. Photo courtesy Jaguar Land Rover.

There’s no word yet on when or if the event will take place, but we’d certainly love to bear witness.