Jerry Heasley
February 22, 2016
Photos By: Dave Tadder

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.”

This is the Shelby that Dave Tadder had heard about most of his life but had never seen until January 2015. When he first saw the car, it had four flat tires and a body completely covered in dust. The tires were so flat and dry-rotted that Tadder had to put the car up on blocks and take the wheels/tires to town for repair.
Uncovered, the Shelby was stored inside and well preserved despite dust.

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.”

The seats were from a Chevy Vega (eww!), but the rest of the interior was completely stock.

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.

The engine is a matching-numbers 302 and appears complete and original.
Tadder found a CB radio in the car, which explains the antenna.

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.”

Loaded on the trailer, Tadder was ready to haul his treasure home.
Tadder rounded up a set of stock seats. The odometer reads 47,000.
Tadder bought the Shelby in January 2015. A year later, he is 80 percent done with the restoration. He plans to “detail the engine bay, go through the front suspension, and drive the #$% out of it.” According to Shelby American Automobile Club Registrar Vincent Liska, this 1968 Hertz Shelby originally shipped to Reynolds Ford in Syracuse, New York.
This Shelby is one of 224 sent to Hertz for rental for the 1968 model year. Tadder was delighted to find this Owner Identification from Carroll Shelby to Hertz.
Fifteen minutes from the Shelby’s storage location is Watkins Glen, source of this badge attached to the center console. Tadder contacted their historical society as to the car’s involvement in the October, 1968 Grand Prix. He speculates a dignitary of the race might have rented the Shelby for a week. Of course, a spectator might have rented the G.T. 350 to drive to the race. The car had 12,000 miles on the odometer when Linda got the Shelby in May 1969.