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damaged box and sent the rest back. I

often wonder where they all went.

We installed the new block in the

car and replaced all the belts and

hoses. I had a set of Hooker headers on

the car but everything else was stock.

The next year I went back to Bon-

neville, this time with my brother. He

had recently gotten out of the service

and had no plans, just $300 and a gen-

eral idea of heading west. We stopped

in Kansas and slept on the ground

next to the car in a rest stop. Then we

drove up to Holcomb to see where the

murders took place in the book, “In

Cold Blood.” We drove to Smith Cen-

ter, Kansas, to the center of the 48

states, saw the largest ball of twine,

visited the home of Walter P Chrysler

and drove through the Rockies. All of

this was done in a Shelby that now

had way over 150,000 miles on it and

was getting tired.

I began to have problems on this

trip. The engine was constantly over-

heating at high speeds. We have since

learned this was caused by using a

non-Hi-Po water pump. We were

pulling up a long hill in Nevada some-

where, cruising at about 100 mph,

when the engine began backfiring and

shaking violently. We pulled off the

road and luckily found a shade tree. I

opened the hood and the engine was

bouncing and dancing around, run-

ning on seven cylinders. We let it cool

down for about an hour and decided to

pull some plugs. I thought it may have

dropped a valve or perhaps thrown a

pushrod but we got lucky when I

pulled the last plug out and it had a

giant chunk of carbon on the tip. I

cleaned it off and reinstalled it. I

started it up and it ran great. Oh joy –

problem solved.

Life has a way of making you

humble and this was going to be one of

those times. I put the car in gear and

moved about ten feet and it sunk down

in an alkali pit. This is like a trap of

baby powder; fine dust and when you

get stuck in it, and you are truly stuck.

We stomped around and found that we

were right on the edge of it. We used a

trusty army entrenching tool I carried

in the trunk and dug our way out.

Back on the road again, we headed to

southern California, again to Disney-

land and then north, to the great I-5

and up the center of the state.

Long and hot was the best way to

describe it, with lots of farm land and

not much else. We diverted over to the

coast and purchased a hang glider

which we had shipped back home. We

then drove north through the San

Francisco Bay area and into the north-

ern part of the state. There were forest

fires burning and the smoke and ash

were all around. Finally, in the little

town of Weott, my brother suggested

that we ought to turn back. We

stopped at Donner Lake to pay hom-

age to the pioneers who were trapped

by a snowstorm and became legendary

when some faced starvation and were

forced into cannibalism.

Then it was off to the Nevada bor-

der. At this time the Interstate High-

way System had not yet been

completed. You would have miles of in-

terstate but when you came to a town

the road would normally drop back

into two lanes and pass through the

middle of towns. We had 398 miles to

go, and 75 miles of it were not inter-

state. So off we drove, 100-plus mph

the entire way. We made it to Wen-

dover in four and a half hours and

pulled in the gas station near the

Stateline Casino.

Right before we stopped I heard a

strange moaning or howling noise

from under the hood. We quickly dis-

covered it was the alternator. It was

about 7:20 p.m. on a Saturday night in

Wendover on Labor Day weekend. The

odds of getting this fixed were cer-

tainly not in our favor. I took the alter-

nator off the car in the parking lot and

disassembled it. One of the diodes had

fallen over and shorted out. We

couldn’t find new parts so I did the

next best thing. I removed the positive

and the opposite negative diode and

we now had a perfectly good alterna-

tor that could produce maybe, 20

amps, rather than its normal 42 amps.

That meant no radio and no heater. I

replaced the diode plate when I got

home and that alternator is still on the

car today.

We drove along through Utah and

got to the edge of Wyoming where we

found ourselves facing at the biggest

and blackest storm I had ever seen, be-

fore or since. It was a storm of mythi-

cal proportions, so we decided to sit it

out in a rest area under a shelter and

as the storm approached it got windier

and the rain felt like little bullets. The

rain was coming at us sideways. It was

raining so hard we couldn’t even crack

the windows for air. It was like being

hit by a firehose. Once it slacked up a

bit we started down the road and as

we were passing a truck, another of

mother nature’s disasters struck. A

lightning bolt hit the truck and we

were momentarily deafened and

blinded. How close we came to getting

hit, I can only imagine. But the Shelby

took it in stride and got us home.

One day at the dealership a guy I

knew who had a perfect 1968

GT500KR convertible, white with a

four-speed and air came in and asked

me if I wanted to buy it. He had gotten

his girlfriend pregnant and her par-

ents insisted they get married. He

wanted $1500. I told him I wasn’t in-

terested and he came back few days

later and offered it to me for $1200.

The next week it was down to $1000

and finally the day before the wedding

he came in and said $600 would make

it mine. Again, it was another one that

got away.

By this time the Shelby was show-

ing its age. It was really getting beat,

the seat frames were cracked, the dash

was split and the interior rugs were

starting to crumple and fall apart. I

also began to see the results of driving

it on the salt flats. The driver’s floor

became soft and nothing was holding

the floorpan together but the carpet-

ing. I trimmed a piece of sheet metal

and slipped it under the carpet and

had it propped on the ragged edge

along the inner rocker panel. I had

gotten another car and was using it

less and less, but was still able to

nudge it over the 200,000-mile mark.

About this time I met a young lady

who found out I had a Shelby. Who

was this girl who knew what a Shelby

was and seemed interested in it? She

said she had a friend who would love

to see it and could she take it to show

him? Sure, why not? Let a girl I really


Summer 2016 75