The Original Venice Crew (OVC) has thrown down the gauntlet in the name of charity to Aston Martin and Jaguar. OVC CEO Jim Marietta on Thursday reignited the rivalry with these two European automakers by challenging them to race their continuation heritage classic cars against the classic Shelby continuation model.
Marietta is asking both Aston Martin and Jaguar to bring their continuation builds to Willow Springs Raceway in Southern California. There, with drivers designated by their respective teams, the cars will compete for 10 laps-winner take all.
If Aston or Jaguar beat the 1965 Shelby OVC G.T.350, OVC will donate $100,000 to the charity of the winner’s choice. If OVC wins, it wants to donate $35,000 to the Carroll Shelby Foundation, as well as other charities.
“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,” Marietta said. “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. It is with Shelby’s everyman sensibility that we issued a challenge to both Jaguar and Aston Martin. The field of play is a race course, the proceeds go to charity, and while we can’t go back in time, we intend to relive the history.”
OVC is a group that built the first series of Shelby American racecars based on Ford’s iconic 1965 Mustang fastbacks, according to the company. They are producing a limited series of the 1965 Shelby G.T. 350 Competition models, which can be optioned with a race-focused independent rear suspension originally designed in 1964 by Ford Advanced Vehicles. Only 36 of these cars will be built, each incorporating several aerodynamic and design enhancements by the Shelby American designer Peter Brock. The continuation cars are licensed by both Carroll Shelby and the Ford Motor Co.
“Much like the first Shelby Cobra, the 1965 Ford Shelby G.T. 350 C/M changed the performance car landscape,” said Ted Sutton, a member of OVC. “By adapting lessons that our team learned racing Cobras and Daytona Coupes, we turned a mule into a racehorse, as Carroll Shelby said. Three of us who created the first Shelby G.T. 350 Competition Model in the Venice, California, race shop reunited in 2015 for a very special project. We agreed to build the car that we envisioned in 1965, but couldn’t due to time, expense and other restraints.”
At roughly the same time as OVC began reconstructing Shelby G.T. 350s, enthusiasts at Jaguar and Aston Martin were revisiting their competitive histories, including the Le Mans-winning D-Type Jaguar and Aston Martin’s DB4 GT.
Some 62 years after the last D-Type Jaguar was built in 1956, Jaguar Classic has restarted production of the iconic D-type race car in the Coventry factory in England. From both a design and alphabetical standpoint, Jaguar’s D-Type served as a bridge between Jaguar’s Le Mans-winning C-Type of the early 1950s and the production E-Type, which made its debut in 1961. Dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1955 thru 1957, the D-Type Jaguar serves as a reminder of Britain’s postwar success. It also illustrates how racecar design early on could influence the engineering of a production car. Just 25 examples of the D-Type will be built, fully a third of the 75 original D-Types completed, according to the company.
Shelby was much more closely connected to Aston Martin, having shared the 1959 Le Mans win in an Aston Martin DBR-1 with driver Roy Salvadori. However, it is not the DBR-1 that Aston Martin is recreating. The DB4 GT continuation car is the quintessential grand tourer built for competition, providing an absolutely unique combination of performance and luxury, according to the company. It was a car rarely, if ever, equaled at the time of its introduction in 1959. And like Jaguar, only 75 examples were built between its launch and the end of ‘production’ in 1963.
With cost of both the continuation Jaguar and Aston Martin well into seven figures, the price tag of the OVC Shelby Mustang, which starts at $250,000, is modest in comparison.