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Incredible Find! 1968 Hertz Shelby G.T. 350 Uncovered After 24 Years in Storage
Rare Finds: 1968 Hertz Shelby Uncovered
Dave Tadder felt a jolt of depression course through his body when the garage doors finally swung open. The “Oh my!” unveiling wasn’t what he expected.
He says, “It hadn’t been touched in 24 years, and it wasn’t covered. There was dust all over it and the other half of the garage-type of barn was full of crap—I mean boxes and old toys from kids, clothing, and just a bunch of junk.”
Tadder grew up in Elmira, New York. He knew about this 1968 Shelby Mustang since he was in high school in 1984, but oddly enough, he had never seen it. Tadder found out about the Shelby through another car friend named Rob Olthof, who graduated in the same class as Dave’s wife and whose mother owned the car.
“The last 20 years, every time I would see Rob I would ask, ‘When is your mom going to sell me the Shelby?’” Tadder asked about it so many times that his inquiries became a running joke. Until one day in December 2014, Olthof answered, “She’s selling it, and I mentioned your name.”
There was a good reason Tadder had never seen this old Shelby. Although the Olthofs drove their G.T. 350 in good weather, when Mr. Olthof died in 1991, the family stored the fastback in a barn outside the little town of Pine City, New York, and there it sat for 24 years. Car enthusiasts in the area certainly knew about the old Shelby, and they also knew Linda Olthof did not want to sell the car. That’s because Linda’s father and a Mr. Clute (who owned Clute Ford in Elmira, New York) had purchased the car in May 1969 for Linda and her husband Bob as a wedding gift. So it had sentimental value that kept potential buyers at arm’s length.
Tadder was as surprised as anybody that Linda was going to finally put the car up for sale. He quickly got an appointment to see the Shelby. But the price wasn’t cheap, at $55,000. Tadder looked over the 1968 G.T. 350 and was content that the car didn’t appear to have any more rust than simple surface oxidation. Mr. Olthof, due to a back injury, had replaced the stock front seats with buckets from a Chevrolet Vega. The original carburetor also appeared to be gone, apparently due to a carburetor fire on Father’s Day 1972, at a restaurant called Rustic Garden in Pine City. The Highland Green paint had been resprayed to Raven Black.
Tadder was initially a Chevy guy, having gotten into midyear Corvettes (1963-1967) when he was 23 and bought his first ’Vette, a 1964 coupe. Why would a 100 percent Corvette buy trade nameplates? For one, Tadder needed a back seat in his collector car, explaining, “I have a wife and a 12-year-old, and we can’t go anywhere in the Corvette.” He also had a great deal of respect for the Shelby name. “Growing up, I never thought in my wildest dreams I would ever have a chance to afford a car of this magnitude.”
Tadder was also overjoyed that the Shelby belonged to a prominent family in the area. After viewing the car and visiting with Linda Olthof, he returned home to research values. “I had no idea what Shelbys were worth.”
Wisely, Mrs. Olthof was not negotiable on price. To round up the 55 grand, Tadder would have to sell his 1966 Corvette 390-horse 427 coupe, and told us, “She gave me enough time to sell my ’Vette and buy the Shelby.” Which only took two weeks. That was about a year ago, and the car is nearly 80 percent restored back to new condition, with the only things left to do, as Tadder explained, were “detail the engine bay, go through the front suspension, and drive the #$% out of it.”