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in Oklahoma, the Ozarks in southern

Missouri and across the great Missis-

sippi River. I drove through Illinois,

Indiana and Ohio and back into the

Appalachians in Pennsylvania and

eventually home. What a trip: two

weeks and almost 8,000 miles and

now it was back to the daily grind of


A few months later, as I was work-

ing at the dealership, a customer

bought in an Excalibur for a state in-

spection. While it was there the seller

came back into the parts room and

asked who owned the Shelby out back?

Dave pointed him in my direction and

I found out he bought and sold exotic

cars and he said he had something I

might be interested in. It was a 1962

Shelby Cobra, a real, genuine Cobra

roadster.We made arrangements to go

see it that weekend. It was in a ware-

house in Arlington, Virginia where he

had a bunch of stuff. The car’s serial

number was CSX2017 and he told me

it was the first car with Halibrand

wheels and the second car retrofitted

with a 289 engine. It looked beautiful

even though it had stars and cracks in

the paint. It had 14,000 miles on it and

a set of Weber carburetors in a box in

the trunk. The engine had two AFB

4Vs on it. What it didn’t have was a

top or a heater.

He wanted $3500 and my car. My

brother had just gotten out of the serv-

ice and he had $3,000 he would loan

me. I tried to get the guy down on the

price but he wouldn’t budge. He of-

fered a wrecked 427 Cobra with a

spun rod and main bearing and a bent

frame rail for $1500, but I didn’t want

that. I still think about it today, but at

the time I really wanted a car that was

a daily driver.

The guy did tell me one story: the

back of the mirror of my car was

painted red and he said they did that

at the airport (my car was rented at

National Airport in Washington, DC)

and that was the color of the cars at

National. I have never heard or been

able to get anyone to verify that but I

still have the mirror.

The next year, during Hurricane

Agnes, my brother and I drove to my

sister’s house in Ohio and back in

twenty-four hours, with the hurricane

following us out. We followed it back,

passing swollen rivers and flooded


On one of the west coast trips I

took I had the exhaust break loose on

the original header collector. They

were now about eight years old. I used

a coat hanger to wire up the exhaust

and about a mile later I had to rehook

it to the emergency brake cable. I

wired it back to another place but the

smoke from the rear brakes told me I

had tied it up wrong. So I got to drive

to the west coast and back with open

headers on one side and eventually on

both sides before I got home. Driving

more than 4,000 miles with open ex-

haust isn’t as much fun as you might


During this time I also started

hearing a noise from the engine that I

thought was a valve out of adjust-

ment. It turned out it was the bottom

skirt on number-seven cylinder. When

I got back to the dealership I had my

friend Dave, in the parts department,

order a new short block. You could still

get a new Ford service short block for

$325. He ordered one and it didn’t

come in, so he ordered another one

and it still didn’t come in. Finally he

ordered ten of them and a week later

one showed up. We open the box and

discovered that it had been dropped

and the lip for the rear pan seal was

broken. The parts manger was

adamant that I had to buy it but I was

not going to accept a new engine block

that was broken. The problem was

solved when the other eleven blocks

showed up. We picked the most un-


Summer 2016 74

Imagine driving through an average

residential neighborhood and seeing

what looks like a derelict Hertz car sit-

ting in the driveway. How can you not

stop and ask?

After ignoring a car like this for so long, you know when it’s time to take action.

And as you start digging into you realize it’s worse than you thought. That kills

a lot of dreams, right there. But not so with 6S1431.