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he question is always asked,

Which came first…the Shelby or


” Bonnie and I started

dating in high school in 1968, when I

was sixteen and she was fifteen. I

bought the Shelby in the fall of 1969.

Therefore, she will always be first. Of

course, looking at it another way, at

least I know she didn’t marry me for

my car.

My passion for cars ignited right

around the time my sister began col-

lege. Because she needed to commute,

my Dad bought a red ‘65 Mustang for

the two of us to “share.” It was a real

beauty! At that time the movie “Bul-

litt” was a box office hit and a favorite

at the height of the muscle car era.

Street racing was the norm and life

imitated art when I raced a Charger

one night, and met a telephone pole on

Layhill Road. It turned my fastback

into a horseshoe. Luckily, only my

pride was hurt and my Dad didn’t

learn the real truth about my racing

until forty years later.

In the fall of 1969, still having the

“need for speed,” I talked my Dad into

letting me buy a one-owner 1966

Shelby GT350 (6S2186). Although the

$1,650 price was money that I had

earned, I was only seventeen and not

old enough to title it in my own name.

He didn’t think it was a good idea for

me to buy a “race car,” what with my

driving history, accumulation of points

on my license and the improbability of

finding a company to insure me. It

took a month of “negotiations” but I fi-

nally wore him down. He warned me

that he didn’t want to have to say “


told you so

” and begrudgingly signed

the title. Although he technically

owned the car for a little less than a

year, I don’t ever remember him driv-

ing it. In his later years, he would tell

me I made two good choices in life,

Bonnie and the “Blue” car – in that


We drove the car everywhere dur-

ing the “Glory Years” of high school; to

the beach, skiing, vacations, football

games, homecomings and proms. I

taught Bonnie to drive a manual

transmission with the Shelby and she

hopped around the high school park-

ing lot for quite a while until she mas-

tered it. In those days, it had a 3400 lb

ZOOM pressure plate that took two

men and a boy to push the pedal in.

Although I had mostly given up street

racing, I was still the “Parking Lot

Eliminator” at school. We spent many

a Saturday night at 75&80 Dragway,

but there was always a “class” prob-

lem. Was the Shelby “Factory” or

“Modified”? I argued that it came from

the factory with headers and a hi-rise,

in which case they would class me


Fall 2016 28

– Kevin Cauley