Jerry Heasley
July 1, 2009
Photos By: The "Treasure Finders"

Vintage Literature
Hidden Treasures encompass literature as well as parts and cars. Rick Parker of Signature Auto Classics in Columbus, Ohio, hunts them all. His friend Danny Rader called one Saturday afternoon from a garage sale. "You've got to see this."

Danny had gone to the garage sale to buy engine parts and noticed a blue Shelby Cobra GT350/500 parts book in a three-ring binder. "I asked him if the parts book looked new," Rick says. "He said it looked old. It had old dates in it and the paper inside looked old."

The cover had a patina too. Rick didn't hesitate. He jumped in his car and headed east to the little town of Outville, Ohio. There was always the chance someone else would buy the book. Except, at $125, the price wasn't cheap.

Rick walked into the garage past wheels, tires, a go-kart, and lawn furniture. The sale was sparsely attended. He recognized a face from the past. Tom Eitel was a friend from his drag racing days in mid to late 1970s. They began talking about old times. Rick recalled the '67 Shelby GT350 that Tom raced at Marion County Raceway.

Rick put two and two together and figured it was Tom's garage sale. He found the blue Shelby parts book on a table. Tom explained that a friend who worked at the local Ford dealer gave him the book when the dealership closed its doors years ago. Obviously, he knew Tom owned a Shelby.

Rick showed us the pages. It was much more than a parts book. Issued by Shelby-American, the book contained information for dealers, such as how to take care of warranty claims, dated memos from Shelby-American, wholesale and retail prices, updates, and more. On one page, dated March 14, 1968, Shelby-American showed dealers how to fix engine noise transmitted through the radio.

In another area of the book, we saw a list of Shelby-American Ford dealers across the country. Another page listed the states that had approved seat belt shoulder harnesses as of a certain date. Basically, Rick had uncovered a gold mine of information for '68 Shelbys.

Most of these dealer books got tossed into the trash when the dealers were finished with them. Today, they are a gold mine of information. We're glad Rick recovered this one from a garage sale in a small town in Ohio. Today, he leaves the book on the counter in his shop at Signature Auto Classics. "People look at it, talk about it, and get a big kick out of how I found it."

Yard Shelby
"If you mow your yard and find a car, you might be a redneck" is a well-known Jeff Foxworthy joke.

Bruce Wanamaker got surprised one day on his way to find car parts on the north side of Topeka, Kansas. "I'm driving down the street in my pickup with my buddy, and we spot a '70 Shelby GT350 sitting in this guy's front yard. And he's mowing around it!"

Bruce's voice gets more and more animated as he tells this story. "The Shelby had grass growing up underneath it. It had been parked outside for a while and had a couple of mismatched mag wheels."

Apparently, the fastback was well-known in the area and the owner was even better known for his refusal to sell.

One day, however, Bruce got lucky. "I went up and rang the door bell. I asked if he wanted to sell the car. And he goes, `Yeah, but I won't take a penny less than twelve-five.' And I said, `Let's take it for a drive.'"

The owner got "kind of a weird look on his face," Bruce recalled, because the car didn't run. Bruce played along and simply asked if he could go look at the Shelby.