How One Company Honored Ken Miles and The "Flying Mustang"
Original Venice Crew (OVC) is well known for its affiliation with Shelby American and the Ford Motor Company. They are the only company authorized by both Carroll Shelby Licensing and Ford Motor Company to build continuation Ford Shelby GT350 Competition Models with the optional independent rear suspension and Shelby series serial number.
Now, OVC has announced a special edition of their GT350 continuation sports car. OVC will offer three special-edition Ken Miles “Flying Mustang” editions. One of the most prolific motorsports photos in history is of Miles’ car airborne, which is why the Shelby is often called the “Flying Mustang.” It was Carroll Shelby who teamed up with race car driver Ken Miles to put the Mustang on the map by racing “R” model Mustangs, modified by Shelby in the SCCA race on February 14, 1965. Not only did Shelby American and Miles win their first race, the Shelby GT350s began dominating their class across North America and Europe. Today, first generation Shelby GT350’s are fan favorites at events like Le Mans Classic and Goodwood.
“Ted Sutton and I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Ken Miles while we were part of the Shelby American team in 1965,” said Jim Marietta, CEO of OVC. “While Ken was celebrated for his leadership as competition director overseeing the Shelby Cobra, Daytona Coupe and GT40 programs, he was also a development driver for the Ford Shelby G.T.350. Together with his son Peter, who is also portrayed in the recent Oscar-winning film, ‘Ford v Ferrari’, we’re honoring his contribution to making the Shelby GT350 a winner with this trio of special edition cars.”
To honor Miles, OVC will offer three Ken Miles “Flying Mustang” Editions; only one will have a 9-inch fixed axle rear end and the other two will feature the pioneering IRS system.
“I’m pleased that my father’s contributions to the 1965 Shelby G.T.350 R program are being honored with these special cars,” said Peter Miles. “I know that my dad felt it was a serious challenge to develop what Shelby called a ‘secretary’s car’ into a championship caliber racecar. I was lucky enough to spend some time with him, as well as Jim Marietta, during the many hours spent testing the Shelby G.T.350 at Riverside Raceway back then. Usually that car wore the number ‘3’ on its side. Now we are coming full circle with these three cars. For me, the ‘Flying Mustang’ is making the perfect lap.”
The three special cars will delete the package tray and sound deadening materials in order to duplicate the configuration when Miles developed and raced the car. Special Miles graphics will be painted on the cars; his commemorative signature will be added and Peter Miles will also autograph them. The only difference between the cars will be an optional independent rear suspension available on one of the cars that was intended to be raced, but never went into production for the 1965 season.
Ken Miles and "Ford vs. Ferrari
Recently, Ken Miles became famous thanks the Oscar-winning film “Ford vs. Ferrari” where Christian Bale portrayed Miles. In 1963, Miles became Shelby’s Competition Manager. Until then, Cobras raced with limited success. With Ken doing the preparation, Cobras placed first and second at Riverside in February that year.
Miles went on to drive in more races for Shelby than any of the other team members and his record was also the best. During 1963, Miles raced a Shelby Cobra 16 times, winning three and placing second in six. The next year, he won ten events in a Cobra and turned the new Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe into a Le Mans class winner. He also became a development driver, along with Bob Bondurant, for the new Ford Shelby GT350.
In 1965, Shelby American took over Ford’s effort to campaign GT40s. Their success made Ford a serious contender for the World Championship. That is when, the Shelby GT350 began to dominate North American tracks, beginning with Miles’ famous drive in North Texas.
Special edition 1965 Shelby GT350
OVC will assemble the cars at the Shelby facility in Southern California, just as Carroll Shelby and the racers did in 1965. Each OVC built Shelby GT350 begins with the same Mustang, originally equipped with a High-Po 289 c.i.d. engine and a Borg Warner 4-speed that was the basis for the car. The Miles edition cars will feature an engine supplied by the Carroll Shelby Engine Company coupled to a period-correct 4-speed transmission and authentic Shelby shifter. The car bodies are fully reconditioned and built to competition specs. Customers can choose a traditional 9-inch fixed rear end or independent rear suspension. The cars start at $298,000.
You may not be as glamorous as Christian Bale, but there’s definitely a price you can pay to live like him, or at least the play the same part behind a classic American muscle car.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read most of Jimmy's stories at Torque News Ford for daily Ford news analysis.