Jerry Heasley
May 22, 2017
Photos By: Rick Parker

Rick Parker counted himself lucky for the opportunity to purchase a white 1970 Boss 302 from a man (who wants to remain anonymous for now) in Pennsylvania, but once he arrived, he believed there might be more behind a door with four locks at the back of the large industrial building. “We call that the air-compressor room. There’s a boat or something in there,” an employee explained as he went to get keys to open the locks. Rick had noticed three little walls on the back of the large industrial building earlier, as if somebody had added a room. Could this room be hiding another Mustang? This wasn’t Rick’s first car chase. He has a nose for old cars and expected to find something special inside that room. The door swung open to reveal a tractor, a boat, and in the corner, barely visible, a red Shelby Mustang. The owner explained the car had been parked there for more than 25 years. But the building was packed so full of stuff, Rick couldn’t get within 10 feet of the Mustang, which he could finally identify as a G.T. 500 convertible.

Rick’s journey to find this 1968 Shelby had begun two years earlier with a call from a fellow in Virginia regarding a white Boss 302. He asked for help looking over and possibly buying a Boss 302. Rick owns Signature Auto Classics in Gahanna, Ohio, and fields such calls on a regular basis. He is an enthusiast and collector and loves to talk to people about performance Mustangs, and Fords. Rick punctuated the end of the call with a smart, yet friendly, request. If for some crazy reason the man did not buy the Boss 302, to let him know. He’s always looking for projects and cars. The next day, the man called back and said the Boss 302 needed more work than he wanted to do. So he gave Rick a contact name and phone number for the car. Turns out it was four and a half hours away, and a couple days later, Rick drove east to see the car.

Pulled into the light of day, the G.T. 500 is a time machine from 1980. Rick likes the fact that this car still has its original Shelby Cobra wheel covers, probably because it was out of circulation for 37 years. Rick plans to do a makeover. He is going to tear it apart, clean everything, and put it back together to make it a superb driver.
The tags reveal the last registration year: 1978.

“The Boss 302 was at this person’s house, but it wasn’t his car,” Rick says. “He was selling it for a friend. I told him I was interested, so he took me to the owner.” While the two negotiated a price and talked about Mustangs, Rick realized the owner had more than one collector car. They talked about the back room, where the owner stored his G.T. 500, a car Rick had always wanted. “But the owner had said he would never sell it,” Rick says. “That might have sounded like an absolute no, which it was at that point.” Rick didn’t try to change the owner’s mind. Instead, he kept in contact, and over the course of the next few years, engaged in small talk and asking if he had done anything with the Shelby?

In other words, Rick let it be known he was still interested if the car ever did come up for sale. One day in March 2017, Rick got a text message from the same mechanic friend of the owner who had tinkered with the Boss 302 and put it up for sale at his house. “Are you still interested in the Shelby?” the text read. “I think they’re going to do something with it.”

The interior looks like a used-car circa 1980 with a layer of dust – just clean and drive.
The engine was out when Rick found the G.T. 500.

“So Jacquie [Rick’s wife], and I drove over and looked at the car,” Rick says. This time the boat was gone, creating some room to walk around in the air-compressor room. Rick was able to open the hood and could see that the engine was gone, stored at the owner’s house along with other parts. “We went over to see the engine and the parts, which had not been in the car since around 1980.” Along with the engine, the owner had stored the transmission, bellhousing, exhausts, radiator, power steering pump, pulleys, fans, carburetor, and other mechanical parts associated with the engine.

Rick ended up buying a 1968 G.T. 500 convertible that came straight out of the year 1980. A time when this car was a mere 12 years old. Pulling the engine had stopped the odometer at about 54,000 miles and indoor storage had kept the body and interior in excellent condition. “The paint was about 75 percent original, the fiberglass was perfect,” Rick says. “What really blew me away was that nobody had ever altered the car from stock.

The original engine is a 428 Police Interceptor. This one is matching-numbers and is complete and original.
Back in Rick’s shop in Gahanna, the 1968 Shelby has yet to be cleaned. Rick says. “I’m going to leave it that way until I rip it apart because people love to see it like this.”