When Ford and Shelby racing historians consider the East Coast, Rhode Island's Tasca Ford quickly comes to mind as the principle center of many significant competition activities. But let's not forget Harr Ford. Located in nearby Worcester, Massachusetts, Harr was also a hub of East Coast Ford race activity, with solid connections inside Ford Engineering and Shelby American alike. So well connected was Harr Ford that in 1966 the service manager, Gus Zuidema, placed an order for the only 427-powered Cobra Dragonsnake ever built (the other five were 289 powered), immortalizing the Harr Ford dealership in the pantheon of Ford race history.

"Shelby was also interested in the quarter-mile"

"Snoopy ran a best time of 12.03 at 118 mph"

"A few purists quietly grumbled about deviating from originality"

Two years before that, the two-brother team of Bob and Walt "Snooky" Walls were making waves on the New England drag racing scene with a 1964 Fairlane Hi-Po 289. The Walls brothers co-owned Summit Mobil, also based in Worcester, a successful automotive repair shop and refueling station, the first of several the brothers would eventually operate in the area.

Taking turns rowing the Hi-Po Fairlane's T10 four-speed on weekends, Bob and Walt became regular fixtures at the numerous dragstrips and converted airport runways that dotted the New England landscape.

To keep their 289 running ahead of the pack, the brothers established a relationship with Harr Ford for the latest goodies from Ford's new Cobra racing program. One day in the spring of 1965, Harr high-performance sales manager Bill Fisher invited the brothers to a beer-fueled dinner meeting to discuss the possibility of replacing the K-code Fairlane with Ford's newest expression of 289 development, the Shelby Mustang G.T. 350.

Though the Mustang's primary mission was domination of the SCCA B/Production road race scene, the Shelby representative admitted that Shelby was also interested in the quarter-mile and needed feedback from experienced straight-line users. Out in California, Mel Burns Ford of Long Beach drag raced a light blue G.T. 350 to promote the idea. Though their service station was successful, the idea of coughing up $4,547 for a new G.T. 350 (almost $1,300 more than a fresh Galaxie 500 XL convertible), was daunting. But Harr sweetened the deal by knocking the total down to $4,200 and pledging to replace wounded driveline components at no charge. Can you imagine that? Most hot car buyers had to hide the fact they broke parts while racing. In this deal, the Walls brothers were actually encouraged to stress parts to the limit!

A deal was made, and on June 15, 1965, the Walls brothers took delivery of Shelby Mustang number 5S127, a stone-stock 1965 G.T. 350 that left Shelby's LAX conversion plant on April 26. For good measure—and to ensure better saturation at the track—Harr Ford ordered an identical car to be driven by the aforementioned Gus Zuidema.

True to form, a mere three days after taking delivery, the Walls brothers were at the Sanford, Maine, strip making low-14-second shakedown passes. They decided to name the car Snoopy (a play on Walt's nickname) and had it lettered up in the summer of 1965. Other running changes over the next decade included a swap to 5.14 gears, Hilborn mechanical fuel injection, and an alternate engine displacing 305 cubes (a 302 overbored 0.030). In full race mode, Snoopy ran a best time of 12.03 at 118 mph.

The brothers raced Snoopy through 1972, when the pressure of their successful gas station business took over their free time. The relatively unmolested Shelby had its Snoopy graphics gently buffed off, then was parked in a heated garage for the next 11 years. By 1983, Walter had bought out brother Robert's interest in the car; and recognizing the historical significance, he decided to get it ready for gentle road use and showing at Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) events.

Interestingly, over all the years of racing the guys never registered the Mustang with the state of Massachusetts. Instead, the limited road use was accomplished using dealer repair plates. But when Walt faced the clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles in 1983, he was forced to pay excise taxes and penalties going all the way back to 1965. Ouch!

Finally with license plates in hand, Walt began sharing the car at local car shows and cruises. By 1985 the paint was dull and faded, so Walt stripped the body to bare metal and resprayed it in the original Wimbledon White, but without the Snoopy race graphics. One detail that was added in 1985 were the twin Guardsman Blue racing stripes. Remember, Shelby only applied the distinctive stripes to public relations cars, demonstrators, and show units. Those G.T. 350s delivered for retail sale did not bear the stripes unless they were applied by the dealer.

For the next 15 years Walt and his sons Bobby and Steven enjoyed showing the car and even garnered two Second Place and one Third Place concours awards at SAAC meets. Walt passed away in 2010, leaving the heirloom Mustang to his sons. Having grown up with the car, they respected its significance as a rare Shelby but more so as a remembrance of their beloved father. After talking it over with close friends and the many folks who remembered its dragstrip exploits, the sons decided in 2015 to reapply the Snoopy graphics just as they appeared in 1966.

You won't find any computer-cut vinyl here. With the exception of a few retro stickers, the lettering and cartoon work is entirely rendered in paint by the capable Dennis Day. Predictably, a few purists quietly grumbled about deviating from originality on what most regard as the ultimate Shelby Mustang. But once they become aware of the one-family ownership, they applaud the decision.

We caught up with Snoopy at the 2015 Orange Drag Strip Reunion car show and at first assumed it to be a neat retro-themed clone. But after Steve Walls shared its story and a book full of vintage photos, thoughts turned to "where's the trailer?" Surprise! The Walls brothers drive Snoopy every week during the summer and even installed a T-5 manual transmission pirated from a 1988 Mustang GT. With the T-5's 0.675:1 overdrive gear, the 3.89 Shelby-spec axle ratio is reduced to a highway-friendly 2.65:1. Most of the 41,000 miles displayed on Snoopy's odometer were racked up after its 1985 repaint.

Though we haven't checked in with the SAAC, we'd venture to say Snoopy is one of a handful of 1965 G.T. 350s still in the hands of the family that bought it new. And despite having been a drag racer for the first decade of its existence, it hasn't been cut in any way and retains virtually every major component that was on it when Harr Ford delivered it new. That is because Walt and Robert Walls were obsessive about saving any parts removed to make way for drag race-specific upgrades. Bobby and Steven Walls are now in their early 50s and have their own kids, who also take a keen interest in maintaining Snoopy. There is no doubt this is one Shelby that'll remain in the family for generations to come.

At A Glance
1965 Shelby G.T. 350
Owned by: Robert and Steven Walls, Rochdale, MA
Restored by: Mostly original, repainted in 1985
Engine: 289ci/306hp V-8
Transmission: BorgWarner T-5 5-speed manual
Rearend: Ford 9-inch with 3.89 gears and Detroit Locker
Interior: Original black vinyl bucket seat
Wheels: 15x6 Shelby Cragar
Tires: P215/65R15 Goodyear Eagle GT
Special parts: Original T10 4-speed replaced by T-5 for improved cruising

On June 18, 1965, just three days after taking delivery from Harr Ford, the Walls ran the Mustang at the Sanford, Maine, quarter-mile strip. Note the absence of Le Mans stripes; they weren't applied until 1985. Steven Walls swears the car was delivered to Harr Ford wearing these Shelby Cragar wheels, which they still own. The Shelby decal on the front fender was owner added to boost awareness. Remember, in 1965, only ardent road race fans knew Shelby's name.

As seen in this September 1965 snapshot, the Walls brothers won plenty of trophies. Perhaps their greatest racing achievement was taking Snoopy all the way to the semifinal round at the 1966 NHRA Spring Nationals at Bristol, Tennessee.

We checked with Shirley "Cha-Cha" Muldowney personally and she confirmed that she was driving the Sting Ray in this October 24, 1965, picture. When it was taken at South Glen Falls, New York, the Walls were running in B/Sports Car, where its two-seat status made it legal for action against the Corvette contingent. Shirley and then-husband Jack raced this Corvette throughout the Northeast.

Aside from the small hump added to accept the T-5 transmission, the interior is original right down to the add-on gauge pod, 3-inch Ray Brown seatbelts, radio delete plate, horn toggle switch, and Moto-Lita 15-inch wood-rim steering (one of three varieties used in 1965).

Fortunately preserved while other small-blocks paraded through the engine bay, the original K-code 289 was rebuilt by Walt Walls to be essentially stock but with ported heads by Chuck's Porting Service (Worcester, Massachusetts) and upsized Boss 302 rods.

Though the body was refinished, the underside remains untouched. The red battery cable, deep-sump oil pan, 1-inch front sway bar, and repositioned (1 inch lower) A-arms are just a few of the Shelby-specific details.

At the rear, the over-rider traction bars worked so well that Walt and Robert (senior) left them alone. Note the thin cable wrapped around the axletube. It is looped through an eyehook above and limits axle drop. The Koni shocks lack internal limiters and would be prone to damage from overextension without this Shelby-added feature.

Indoor storage has preserved every bit of factory floor and trunk paneling, which was never tubbed or otherwise butchered for racing. The original side pipes and inline mufflers were retrieved from the rafters and installed after Snoopy was retired from racing. Note the flimsy steel-strap band mounted halfway along the driveshaft. That's Shelby's idea of a safety loop!

The unrestored but clean forward undercarriage exhibits Shelby Tri-Y headers and extra-length idler and steering-box arms for quicker response. The T-5 five-speed transmission mates to the original cast steel Wedge Industries blow shield used by father Walt on the strip.

Here's the original all-aluminum, numbers-matching T10, stock shift handle, Stewart-Warner 240-A electric fuel pump, 715-cfm Holley (a reproduction is on the car now), 3.89 Detroit Locker centersection, 3-inch driveshaft, and Koni shocks that were installed on the car when new. The headers are reproduction R-Model items made in the 1980s by Mark Gonzales. One of only 12 sets made, they are desirable and scarce today.

Steven and Bobby were high-schoolers when Carroll Shelby autographed the inside of the decklid on July 4, 1987. They were showing Snoopy at the SAAC convention at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Walt and even managed to grab a photo as Shelby made his mark.

The all-important Shelby identification tag witnessed plenty of wrenching over the years and has survived with well-earned patina. The 5S127 stamping translates as: 5 means 1965 model, S means street version (as opposed to the race-oriented R model), and 127 means 127th unit of the 526-car production run.

Today Steven (left) and Bobby Walls take care of Snoopy but plan to eventually pass it on to their children. Since an external rearview mirror was not standard equipment on the G.T. 350, those who wanted one had to visit the Ford parts department. Though several types were offered, Snoopy wears the Ford Rotunda accessory bullet mirror that would become standard on 1966 G.T. 350s.