Incredible collection of Shelby cars makes millions at auction

Mecum Indy John Atzbach Collection Shelbys

A collection of rare Shelby muscle cars, including one of the most important Mustangs ever made, has sold for nearly $8.85 million.

Auctioned as part of the Mecum Indy 2020 sale, the John Atzbach Collection included nine significant Shelby products. 

The 1965 Shelby GTR350R Prototype, nicknamed the ‘Flying Mustang’, stole the show by selling for an incredible $3.85 million alone. 

Moving historic monument 

Mecum Indy John Atzbach Collection Shelbys

Created as a development machine, the first GT350R includes bespoke parts only fitted to this particular car. Used extensively for testing, chassis 5R002 would also take part in race events. 

It became the very first Shelby Mustang to ever win a race, taking glory at Green Valley Raceway near Dallas, Texas on Valentine’s Day 1965. It would also score ten victories in the 1965 SCCA championship. 

Bought by Shelby enthusiast John Atzbach in 2010, a four-year restoration returned the car to original condition. With such a special history, Atzbach travelled the country to interview those who built the car in the 1960s. 

Being a unique part of Shelby history means this car would always attract big money on the block. Yet the price of $3.85 million, including fees, puts it above the amount achieved by the Ford Mustang used in the Bullitt movie.

Special Shelbys from first to last

Mecum Indy John Atzbach Collection Shelbys

Other highlights sold from the John Atzbach Collection include one of the four Shelby GT350 Convertibles built for the 1966 model year. Finished in Ivy Green, this was the very first Shelby Mustang Convertible, according to its serial number. 

A sale price of $1.1 million fell slightly short of the initial estimate, but still stands as a remarkable amount of money. 

The first Shelby Mustang prototype to be fitted with a Paxton supercharger by the factory sold for $880,000. As a neat bookend to Mustang history, the very last 1970 GT350 made by Shelby went for $145,000.

Auction stars on the block

Mecum Indy John Atzbach Collection Shelbys

The Shelby cars sold from the John Atzbach Collection included more than just Mustangs. One of the few Shelby 289 Competition Cobras to retain their original bodywork was another auction star. It sold for $990,000, but again fell short of a pre-auction estimate of more than $1.25 million.

Lamborghinis, and more than 1,200 items of memorabilia are also being sold as part of the John Atzbach Collection. But it is the nine Shelbys, and their total sale value of $8.85 million, that tells the biggest story. 

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