Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
November 30, 2018

For many years it was frowned upon to actually drive rare Mustangs like Shelbys, Boss 302s, and so forth, for fear of their value being diminished (among other reasons). Generally, you could only find such cars being trailered to large Mustang shows and being pushed around the show field by the owner and a friend or two, all with gloves or towels protecting the car. Rumor had it back in the day many of these cars had no fluids in them and were essentially 1:1 scale models to be admired on said show field, but never to be driven. Man we’re thankful times have changed!

Today the hobby has done a complete 180 for the most part, pushing the “get ’em out and drive ’em” message. Even Carroll Shelby himself loathed to see his cars sitting in garages not being used. “That’s not what I built them for” he’d always say. As our hobby ages it needs new blood; new interest in classic cars and the only way that is going to happen is to get them out on the streets for people to see them being driven and enjoyed!

Our good friend Brant Halterman, who owns Virginia Classic Mustang [www.virginiamustang.com], is a great ambassador to the hobby and owns several classic Mustangs, including a couple of Shelby GT350s. While his schedule often prevents racking up the miles on his Mustangs as much as he’d like, Brant is a big supporter of the drive your Mustang movement. Recently he shared with us and all of his Virginia Classic Mustang blog followers his time spent on the GT350 Tour in upstate New York. Brant has owned his ’65 GT350 for 33 years and is enjoying putting the miles on it more now than ever. We asked Brant to share his story of his time behind the wheel of his ’65 Shelby GT350 during this unique driving event. We hope you enjoy it!-Mark Houlahan

Since starting Virginia Classic Mustang with my father in the late 1970s, I have been fortunate to enjoy classic Mustangs and Shelbys in a variety of ways. After over 40 years, I may have just discovered my favorite way! It’s pretty easy when you get 22 classic Shelby Mustang GT350s and 43 passionate car friends together for four days and 715 miles!

In 2015, noted automobile author, Tom Cotter decided to put together a GT350 Tour based on his long time Cobra Tour. This GT350 Tour was touted as the 50th Anniversary Tour, celebrating the 50th year of the 1965 GT350 Mustang. Tom contacted a few of his GT350 owner friends, and our first Tour took place in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with 13 classic GT350s along with a brand new one that Ford provided to tag along. I believe the idea was a “one and done” type of deal. After all, it is a tremendous amount of work to coordinate an event like this. So, 2016 came and went without another GT350 Tour. Fortunately, many who participated in that first Tour wanted to see it happen again.

Enter Lee Cross. Lee is the epitome of a “car guy.” You know the type—he “eats, lives, and breathes” this stuff. Sound familiar to any of you reading this? Lee started talking to Tom at the Shelby American Automobile Club’s 42nd annual convention in Indianapolis. This was in June of 2017. After some serious talk, Lee decided that there just had to be a 2017 GT350 Tour. That meant that he had only about four months to put something together. With Tom’s help, he was able to pull it off and many of the first year Tour participants were quick to participate again. There were some new friends who joined in, and the number of cars grew to 18. After the second Tour, it became pretty evident that this may just become an annual party! Armed with an entire year to plan the 2018 Tour, Lee was excited as ever. He took over the reins from Tom and got to work.

Our 2018 GT350 Tour was planned and held in the beautiful region of the Adirondacks near Lake George, New York. The excitement to see old friends and meet a few new ones was at an all-time high as we rolled into October, and we all met at the historic Sagamore Resort on the shores of Lake George. The 43 participants hailed from all over: California, Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Delaware, Connecticut, and Alberta, Canada. Twenty two Shelby GT350s (eight ’65s, nine ’66s, four ’67s, and one ’69 convertible) were parked at the resort and ready to eat up some back roads.

So what exactly happens on one of these Tours? Well, obviously it’s about the cool cars, but it’s more about the people who all share a passion for these great cars. It’s really a social event. Mornings usually begin by 8:00 or 8:30 with a quick driver’s meeting. Routes carefully laid out in the tour books are followed with lunch stops, photo ops, and stops for car-related activities and even a few that aren’t, and a few other surprises, and you have just an incredibly great time!

After our opening night welcome dinner complete with our “swag bags,” the next morning found our group traveling north across the Lake Champlain Bridge and heading to the cool town of Waterbury, Vermont. It felt more like Summer than Fall with temperatures in the 80s. Lunch and then a tour of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory were the main stops of the day.

The second day’s main activity was a stop for a tour and breakfast at Reuben and Cynde Smith’s Tumblehome Boat Shop in Warrensburg, NY. They restore vintage wooden boats with an incredible attention to detail that any old car enthusiast would greatly appreciate. Their business is set in a restored old building with beautiful landscaping and a great “feel.” The setting provided a great opportunity for some photos too. What a difference a day makes, because our temperatures were getting more like you would expect in The Adirondacks during early October. The foliage was at its peak making for a very scenic drive.

If we had to have a rainy day, day three was the perfect day for it to come as our two planned stops were indoors. The two stops were “car guy/gal” heaven! Our first one was in Greenfield Center, New York at Rolling Bones Hot Rod Shop. These guys build amazing vintage style hot rods and are well respected in the hot rod world. Honestly, that stop would have made it an incredible day, but we took the Tour back on the road to Gloversville, New York for a look at Jim Taylor’s private car collection. Jim was gracious enough to provide lunch right in the midst of his overwhelming collection of rare automobiles and memorabilia.

To top off the day, Racemark International founder, Bob Bailey invited our group to The Lake George Club for an evening dinner. This was arranged by one of our tour participants, Bruce Meyer just a week or so before the Tour. So, you could say day three was really packed with activities!

I think everyone was thrilled with the Tour at this point, but Lee had one more surprise for the final day. After much negotiation over several months, he obtained permission for all 22 GT350s to drive to the top of Prospect Mountain. That morning we headed out for a catered breakfast on the summit of the mountain with spectacular views. The Tour was topped off with a farewell dinner back at The Sagamore Resort where there were lots of hugs as everyone said goodbye to old and new friends.

Again, what gets us together is the love of these great old GT350s, but what keeps us together is the wonderful group of people who all share the same passion. Enjoy the photo gallery we have published here, and if you’d like to see even more be sure to visit Brant’s blog at http://blog.virginiaclassicmustang.com.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Photography by Brant Halterman