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One of my closest friends was liv-

ing in Oklahoma and I planned to stop

and see him. The weather was bad all

across the country and I fretted over

how to avoid the worst of it. I wanted

to head north from my jump-off point

in Virginia since it was so hot, but my

stop-over was to the south so I decided

to take I-40 to Oklahoma. My buddy,

Danny, lived just east of Oklahoma

City. I figured that would take two

days if there was no trouble.

Once on the road I calmed down

and began to enjoy the drive. My

senses were heightened and I was

noticing every bounce and squeak;

there was a little vibration at higher

speeds. I hadn’t been able to test the

car over 70 mph before leaving. The

limit on the local interstate was 70,

but heading west it would be higher. I

stopped for fuel about every 250 miles

and I discovered I was getting about

20 mpg. Other than the vibration,

which seemed to come and go, the car

was doing great. It was running cool

and had no leaks. My leg was doing

well too! It was a little painful when I

needed to brake hard but otherwise


I was quite comfortable in the car

and at speed it wasn’t really noisy.

Around town, however, things were

different. The engine was essentially

stock with a LeMans cam and it’s a lit-

tle loud. Overall, I found the car to be

a pleasure to drive. Being an early

GT350, you have to work at driving

it – no power steering, power brakes,

air conditioning, cruise or even a radio.

New cars are nice but are we really

driving them? I actually had someone

try to compare driving a new Shelby a

couple of hundred miles to driving an

early GT350 across the country. I

couldn’t see much of a comparison; so

few people actually drive these cars

today, let alone on a long trip or in

heavy traffic.

I made it about halfway to

Danny’s the first day. I had a little

trouble finding a place to stay that

first night because I waited too long to

choose a stopping point. Leslie was

working from home, trying to find me

someplace to stay. Everything seemed

full where I was so I continued on a lit-

tle farther until I found a new Motel 6

that had a vacancy. It was quite a bit

later than I had planned on, and I was

very nervous about leaving the car ex-

posed in the parking lot. I found a spot

to park where I could see the car from

my room and repeatedly checked on it.

I knew I had to rest, so finally I just

had to let it go and get some sleep. I

had been so keyed-up, but that first

day had gone so well that I was no

longer concerned about being out

there alone now.

As planned, I made it to Okla-

homa in two days and was feeling

pretty good about the trip. However,

the heat was still a concern. I talked

with Leslie and decided that since I

was so far ahead of schedule (she

would be flying in to San Francisco on

the 10th) I would drive to Southern

California to get together with John

Saia, 6S336’s previous owner. He has

a blog, “The Shelby Guy,” and I had

spoken to him about stopping by. I ad-

justed my plans and stayed an extra

day at Danny’s. I checked the car over

and rotated the tires, and then gave

rides to his family and especially his

grand kids. I had been in basic train-

ing with Danny and his kids grew up

with the Shelby. His daughter’s hus-

band hadn’t seen it, though. He was

very excited and, being ex-military,

was very respectful. All the kids had

rides and when I asked if he’d like to

go he was like one of the kids. He said

he might even come to Virginia on va-

cation so he could get another ride.

The only thing my inspection revealed

was a drop of fluid from the rear end.

Rotating the tires reduced the vibra-


I left Oklahoma and headed south

to Gallup, New Mexico. It wasn’t quite

as hot that day. I was feeling good all

around, just cruising down the high-

way taking it all in. It was amazing

and I found myself wondering why

aren’t more people willing to do this?

Enjoying the ride in the Shelby and

seeing the country as only a drive like

this allows. The scenery and the peo-

ple are certainly worth it.


The next day took me through the

desert and into California and here I

made my biggest mistake. I went in

the daytime and ended up crossing

through the desert, which was around

120 degrees. I thought either me or the

Shelby would die and didn’t dare to

stop except in Needles, to eat and

check the radiator. Some of the coolant

had over-flowed into my washer bottle

(that I was using as an overflow), but

I hadn’t lost any. I continued onto Cal-

ifornia, but have to admit that this

part really wasn’t fun. We barely han-

dled the heat and I saw quite a few

other cars that didn’t make it. Truck-

ers were having trouble blowing tires

from the heat and I had to dodge a

couple of “alligators” along the way.


Fall 2015 297