Jim Smart
September 21, 2006

It was a balmy summer morning in Medford, Oregon. I got off the plane and readied myself for a day of photo shoots in a place I had never been before. With warm sun on our faces and a gentle breeze from the West, it was the kind of day Lori and Marty Erickson lived for because it meant getting the Shelbys out for a little roadwork. Lori drove her '68 GT500 fastback; Marty drove his '66 GT350H.

Marty was always passionate for fast cars. In high school when Marty was growing up in Northern California, he pumped gas to fund his obsession with automobiles. He saved like a miser, Lori tells us, to purchase a Mustang fastback. He worked feverishly to build a 289 engine in the front room of his brother's apartment. Back then, times were tough and good jobs were scarce, prompting Marty to find work in Alaska. While he was out of town on the job, the city hauled his Mustang to a local impound yard. Before Marty could retrieve it, the engine was stolen. It was a disheartening experience, and Marty simply sold the car.

Later, Lori and Marty met and cultivated a mutual passion for Shelby Mustangs. Marty's GT350H rolled up the driveway for the first time with mixed reviews. It was beautiful but suffered from mechanical woes. At first, Lori didn't understand Marty's obsession with the car. She told us, "I wondered why Marty thought it was such a special car. Then I drove it and I knew..."

During that first drive in the Shelby, the radiator blew its stack, and the engine developed a clattering noise. Fortunately, it wasn't serious, it only needed a new rocker arm and a fresh radiator. Marty decided to rebuild the engine anyway. During assembly, he invited Lori to knock in a piston. One thing led to another until they were working on the car together. Not long after the Ericksons got the GT350H into shape, Marty found Lori a '68 GT500 convertible, which remains an unfinished project car.

Marty and Lori's GT350H isn't yet a perfect textbook example of a Hertz Rent-a-Racer for 1966. It's road-worn, having seen its share of driving. And that's what Marty intended. Underhood is a 306-horse 289 High Performance Cobra V-8 backed by an automatic transmission. Beneath the Shelby-American manufacturer's plate is a San Jose vehicle identification number with a "K" engine code. It all checks out with Shelby American Automobile Club records. It's the real thing.

Marty owned Erickson Air-Crane, a helicopter company that specializes in converting Vietnam-era, Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane heavy-lift helicopters into just about anything needed today, including helicopters for fire fighting. Last year, while delivering an Erickson S-64 Air-Crane to a contractor in Italy, Marty was killed in a helicopter crash. Lori reminds us to take care of what we have and never take it for granted. It's one reason she appreciates the Shelby Rent-A-Racer that Marty loved so much.

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