History of the Shelby Mustangs - Shelby: The Untold Stories
From The Men Who Built The Cars
At one point, Bob rented his personal 289 Cobra to Paramount Studios for an episode of I Spy, starring Bill Cosby. "I hung out all day on the set. When I was getting ready to go home, the assistant director asked me to leave the car for the next day. I said, `Don't let anybody drive it.' So I came back the next day and the car had scratches down the side. I was furious. Turns out, Cosby wanted to take it home. As he was backing out of his driveway, he got too close to the bushes, which had just been trimmed. Anyway, when the shoot was over I took it to one of the best paint shops in southern California and the studio paid for a $1,500 paint job. Looked better than ever, so I was happy."
Bob remembers a salesman at Hi-Performance Motors who ran into a bit of bad luck while on a GT350 testdrive with a customer. "There was a little road called Persian Drive that used to cross the back of the airport. It was a winding street, perfect for a car like the GT350, with sand dunes on both sides. One time the salesman took a man and his son on a testdrive and he rolled the car into one of the sand dunes. Shelby fired him the next day."
Bob left Shelby American in mid-1966. "That's about the time when Shelby decided he wasn't going to put station wagon motors in his 427 Cobras. I was never in on the engineering privy, but Ford made the 427 unavailable for a production car and we started putting 428s in them. About the same time, as the rumor goes, Shelby sold the Cobra name to Ford. I could see the writing on the wall. The initial fun and excitement was starting to wane, anyway.
"I had a couple of offers. I could have gone to Australia because they wanted to start a Mustang racing program over there. And Mort Sahl asked me to go to work for him. When you're 21 years old, do you want to go to Australia or do you want to hang out with movie stars? So I went with Mort Sahl."
Bruce Junor, 1964-1965
Bruce Junor was an engineer for Ford Aerospace in Newport Beach when he was asked if he'd be interested in interviewing with Shelby. "The guy made it rather mysterious, asking if I'd be interested in interviewing with a group of guys who were building a specialty car. I had lived in southern California all my life and spent a lot of time fooling with cars. Finally, I learned it was Shelby, at the Princeton Street facility. After some discussion, they asked if I would take over the production operations."
Bruce joined Shelby American in late 1964 as manager of production operations. One of his first assignments was to lay out the Mustang production line at the new LAX facility. But first there were problems getting into the hangars. "It seemed simple because the buildings were empty and the airport people wanted someone to move in. All of a sudden the airport commission decided they had to approve the lease, and why was there going to be an automobile manufacturer at the airport? They said we weren't air commerce. Airborne Freight and TWA Air Freight managed to put their heads together and came up with a story--the truth has never been proven or disproven--saying that we were the largest air freight users in 1963. Of course, we shipped cars around the world. While we were building cars, we were using the airport facilities and the access was useful. So they went along with it and approved the lease."
Finally, in December, the lease was approved and Shelby took over the two large hangars at LAX. Bruce recalls the hassles of preparing an assembly line and getting Mustangs from Ford: "The idea was that we would magically turn it into an automobile manufacturing facility. The word manufacturing is not right; it was a modification line, where cars roll in at one end and you have a process of disassembly as well as a process of assembly.