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Craigslist Gold! 1966 Shelby G.T. 350H Rare Find
Rare Find: A Craigslist ad leads us to a legitimate ’66 Shelby G.T. 350H rare find!
The world is certainly getting smaller. You used to have to look in old magazines and Penny Savers for the random ad for a Mach 1 or fastback Mustang, but nowadays finding a specific car is as easy as jumping on the internet. For instance, a friend forwarded me a local Craigslist ad for “Shelby G.T. 350H” and I thought, “No way is it real, and for sale on Craigslist no less!” But I was very, VERY wrong.
Contacting the seller through the ad, I was actually talking to the neighbor of the car’s owner. He was helping her get the car into a new caretaker’s hands and was happy to get me in touch with the owner. I very quickly made arrangements to get out and see the car, not far from where I live, and headed over the next day.
When looking for “Barn Finds,” I’m used to traipsing around farm fields and other wide-open spaces, not well-manicured suburbia. It just goes to show that you never know where you might strike gold. Pulling into the driveway, there the Shelby was, just off to the side. Questions began racing through my head: “How long had it been sitting there? And who has a G.T. 350H just hanging around in their driveway?!” I quickly got the answers as I rang the doorbell and introduced myself to the owner, a kind lady named Judy. I introduced myself to her and her puppy and we talked for a bit about the prairie-style architecture of her home, and how her and her husband had modified it over the years, then cut to the chase and I brought up the car. The story went that they always had projects that they were working on and the Shelby was one of them.
The 1966 Shelby G.T. 350H was collaboration between Carroll Shelby and Hertz Rent-A-Car. If you were a member of the Hertz Sports Car Club, you could rent one of these rocket ships. We’ve heard the story numerous times, of people renting a G.T. 350H for the weekend, beating on it at the racetrack, then turning it back in, we presume without letting the rental car giant know what they really did with the car. “What, the tires are worn out? I have no idea how that happened.”
In 1967 Judy and her then boyfriend were living in the St. Louis area and he came up with the idea to buy this used Shelby G.T. 350H. This was over a year before they got married, but she helped him pay for the car. As you would expect, they loved it and drove the car all over the country. For a while they lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and would drive the Shelby down to St. Louis. They managed to rack up over 100,000 miles while they owned it—a lot of miles for a car that was made to be a rent-a-racer!
Unfortunately, a few events sidelined the car. There was a small engine fire that damaged the original hood (now in storage), and a few other pieces, but they were still driving the car up until 1982, when something happened that put the car away for the next 33 years. And while it did move around a bit, for the last few years it has sat, covered in the corner of the driveway, waiting for the day to be fixed. Sadly, that day would not come, as Judy’s husband passed away in January of 2015. Transitioning her life, she decided to part with the Shelby so the next caretaker could restore it back into the thoroughbred it once was. And that is when I came into the picture.
Back outside, we uncovered the car and I got my first good look at it. You can’t miss the black paint and dual gold racing stripes and G.T. 350H stripes down low on the rockers. It took my breath away. In all my travels, I had only seen a handful of Shelbys but never a G.T. 350H. And here one sat, less than an hour from my home. Just crazy!
Going over the car inch by inch, it looked to be fairly complete. The engine appeared to be correct to the car (even though many were torn out in 1966 illegally and replaced with a regular 289). The passenger side rear wheel even looked to be one of the original rims and tires—we surmised that the tire was probably the spare that was put on within the past decade or two to temporarily replace another bad tire. The other side still wears the snow tires it has had for years. Snow tires, on a ’66 Shelby G.T. 350H—that’s Chicago for you!
The quarters are in pretty bad shape but it looks like a tree branch or something had fallen and dented them both, as well as the trunk. Looking at that rusting rear bumper with the Shelby G.T. 350 gas filler cap, it really started sinking in how unique of a car this was. Scoops still hung from the quarters; the glass was still all intact and in good shape; the interior was dirty but not terrible; the rare Shelby wood-grained steering wheel and Shelby tach were still there, ready to head down the road in style. When I looked down and saw daylight however, that’s when the knot in my gut turned—the floors were gone, a combination of Chicago weather and sitting on concrete (concrete can hold moisture in because it is slightly porous). Both sides needed serious attention, which is not unexpected in the rust belt.
Up front it looked better; there was still a Shelby valve-covered 289 under the hood and a Shelby tag on the fender. It looked a bit worse for wear, but other than the air cleaner that was in storage, everything looked to be there. Looking up the tag in the Shelby Registry, it shows that this is a California car originally, being shipped to a Los Angeles Hertz rental agency, then ending up at Fairway Ford in Placentia, CA. The car was originally invoiced for $3,859.75 in 1966. After that the registry loses the car, until now!
Since I visited the car, it was sold and is now back on the West Coast where I’ve heard that it will get a full restoration. Again, it just goes to show that you never know where you are going to find a cool and unique Mustang. You just have to keep your eyes open and watch for them, either on the road or on the internet. Yes, sometimes you find a rare jewel even on a pedestrian website like Craigslist.