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Fall 2015 251


A long time ago we received a let-

ter from Jim Nardone, a ‘68 Shelby

owner from San Antonio, Texas. It was

about a ‘65 GT350 he had come across

in an Arizona boneyard. He enclosed a

few photos he took at the time. We

thought it would make an interesting

story in

The Shelby American

and we

set everything aside. Then we lost

track of it. We knew it was around

here somewhere but it wasn’t until the

other day that we found it. Although

it’s aged a bit, the account is neverthe-

less interesting.

ine is a sad story, today, but I feel

the responsibility as a Shelby owner to

pass it along. I was on active duty in

the Air Force at the time, a young buck

back then (unlike the way I would cur-

rently characterize myself). I was sta-

tioned in Plattsburg, New York, near

Lake Champlain, about twenty miles

from the Canadian border. I had met

and married my wife on a previous as-

signment in Tucson, Arizona and we

visited her family there every chance

we got. I loved the desert, especially

seeing the multitude of rust-free, vin-

tage cars that wheeled down the sun-

drenched roads. Being a transplant

from the Northeast rustbelt, I was in

automotive heaven. I had already pur-

chased two 1966 Mustang 2+2s in Ari-

zona and sold them years later when I

bought my 1968 Shelby GT500—

which also came from the Tucson area.

During one trip back to Tucson,

still drooling over all of the wonderful,

timeless vintage cars on the road, I

went junkyard-hopping. I did this

every chance I got when I was back

there. Scanning the isles I found my

feet shuffling quicker in mounting an-

ticipation of what might be around the

next corner.

This particular day as I rounded a

line of derelicts I spotted a gray-

primered 1965 or 1966 Mustang fast-

back. My pulse began to quicken. The

front sheetmetal and doors were gone

and there was a gaping hole in the

firewall that extended along much of

the transmission hump. “

This poor


” I thought to myself.

I started to look at it more closely.

It had rear brake cooling ducts at-

tached to the rear wheel houses. Then

I saw a bracket for an over-ride trac-

tion bar welded to the floor pan. Wait,

there was one on each side. For a mo-

ment I wondered, “

Can it be? Naw, no


” I walked around to the rear of

the car and looked into the trunk.

There were battery cables where a

battery had once been mounted.

I slowly moved around this bat-

tered carcass, its front end looking like

a buzzard-picked skeleton in the

desert. I noticed the modified shock

towers which likely made room for a

big block. The upper A-arms had been

lowered. There were just too many co-

incidences for this car not to be a


I examined the inner fender pan-

els very closely and found the Ford

VIN. It was a ‘65, from San Jose, with

a K-code. Then I found the Shelby

number stamped into the passenger

side. It was like the clouds parting.

This was a genuine 1965 GT350. The

serial number was SFM5S480. My

heart began to race and I was ecstatic!

I took a lot of pictures of the car and

found a pencil and a scrap of paper in

another car and made pencil-tracings

of the Shelby and Ford serial numbers.

I was sure that nobody would believe

I had found a real 1965 GT350 with-

out some kind of “proof.”

I couldn’t wait to approach the

junkyard’s manager, in his office out

front. I told myself to be calm and not

let on that it was a Shelby. I rehearsed

what I would say as I walked out, and

envisioned returning with a truck and

trailer to haul my treasure home.

I calmly inquired about purchas-

ing the car. He asked me what parts I

needed. I responded that I wanted to

buy the whole car as it sat. He said he

did not sell whole cars, just parts. I

quickly made up a story about having

an old, badly-rusted Mustang fastback

back home and needed the whole

thing, intact, to restore it. I asked him

how much cash I’d have to give him to

take possession of the car. After a long

pause, he said, “


.” I could hardly

believe my ears. Only $150 for a very

rough but genuine 1965 GT350. I

asked him about the title. He said I

wouldn’t be getting a title and

wouldn’t get the car in one piece. He

would cut it up into three or four

pieces before it left his yard.

I told him that I didn’t want it in

pieces; I’d take it whole, the way it

was. If he cut it up I would just have

to put it back together again. The more

I pressed him, the more adamant he

became. The only way that car was

leaving there was in pieces. At one

point in our conversation he told me

that it was not a Shelby. I said, “


course not.”

He finally admitted that

he was concerned about liability; if he

sold the car and it was repaired, and

then ended up in an accident he did

not want to be liable.