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

When he popped the hood, the distributor was laying in the battery tray. Bruce knew why the owner was hesitant to start the car.

The good news was no rust and a once-repaired rear quarter in a Calypso Coral, four-speed, small-block Shelby fastback. It still had the original intake, roll bar, center console, and pretty much all the vital parts. Bruce, a long-time Mustang and Shelby enthusiast, saw a "100-percent original" Shelby.

Bruce offered $10,000. The owner countered with $11,000. Bruce agreed to the deal, but it was late on a Friday afternoon and the banks were already closed, and Bruce didn't have the funds to complete the transaction. What was he to do?

Bruce told the owner, "I have agreed to the price, but I have no way of getting the money until Monday morning." He asked the owner if he would take a check and he replied, "No, if you're going to buy it, you're going to buy it."

Anybody who has been in his situation knows the anxiety such a rare find can cause.

"This car was known around town," Bruce says. "He told people he would never sell it. So I was thinking someone else was going to slide in and give him cash over the weekend. I was really paranoid about that."

However, the car was still there on Monday morning. Bruce paid the owner and the car was his. He called a towing company to haul it away rather than taking the time to get a trailer.

Jeff Foxworthy would be proud.

Late Model Treasure
For years, Hidden Treasures have primarily been the classics of '65-'73. Today, the late-models have arrived. Bobby Yaniak sent an e-mail that read, "A guy who works for my company told me he had an '82 5.0 notchback. I wanted it but he didn't want to sell. Then one day he said it had T-tops. I was flipping because I knew how rare it was."

However, the '82 still wasn't for sale. Then one day Bobby found out his friend was moving to Florida. "I called him up. He said he had to get rid of it as soon as possible, like come get it that weekend."

Timing is everything when making a Hidden Treasure purchase. The '82 notchback that "wasn't for sale" could now be had for a mere $300.

I telephoned Bobby for more info. He said, "A buddy and I took a trailer down there. The car had sat in the guy's yard for five years. It was buried in mud. We had to get a tow truck to pull it out."

The good news is the body did not have much rust. Bobby cited a driver's door with "minor rust" at the bottom and some rust in the trunk lid. But there was no rust in the rocker panels and the body had just one dent.

According to a $25 Car Fax report, the mileage was 120,000. The '82 hadn't been tagged since 1992. Bobby noted an Edelbrock Torker II intake and Edelbrock 600 four-barrel carburetor in place of the '82's original two-barrel carb.

Bobby said, "We took it to my buddy's house and discovered that the coil was bad. We put a new coil on it, primed the engine and carb, and the 302 fired right up. It sounded great."

Water spewed past the old freeze plugs, which need replacing. The body is in primer, so the car looks rough. "I couldn't believe I found that car," Bobby says. "I couldn't have dreamed of anything better."

His rare find got better as Bobby decoded the VIN and learned more about the car. The bare fact is that this '82 is a notchback that came with a 5.0L HO engine backed by a four-speed manual transmission. Black on black, the Mustang came from Dearborn with vinyl seats and no power options except cruise control. The original owner even left air conditioning off the order list.

One oddity added to the order form is the T-top, as verified by the "D" code for the sunroof. In all his research, Bobby has yet to find anyone who has heard of an '82 T-Top notchback with the factory 5.0L. This could be the only one.

Bobby plans to return the '82 to "mostly original."