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Winter 2016 11

– Howard Pardee

work order and Shelby would then re-

imburse me for the part. I would pay

for the labor. I agreed to this, thinking

that something was better than noth-


The repair was done and I sent

the paid work order to them. A cou-

ple of weeks later I received the Shelby

American check for both the part and

labor. I didn’t look a gift house in the

mouth. It was almost Christmas and I was

very glad to get the additional, unexpected


The phone call came about forty-five

years later and it turned out to be from

Rinsey Mills, the author of “Carroll

Shelby–The Authorized Biography.” It

I was working on my computer one af-

ternoon, back in 2011, when my phone




Voice with thick British accent:

Howard C.





USCG Academy Band, New London,

Connecticut 06320?


Yes, that was my old work address.


When were you an employee at

Shelby American?


I was never an employee of Shelby



Then why do I have a check from

Shelby American made out to you?

The story of the check began in the

late fall of 1966. I had purchased 5S357

from Larsen Ford in White Plains, New

York in September 1965. I was driving the

car down a street about a year later and

tried to shift from 2nd to 3rd gear. The

clutch pedal went right to the floor. I was

lucky that Whaling City Ford in New Lon-

don, Connecticut was only a few blocks

away and I drove straight to their service

department. When they had a free me-

chanic we pushed the car onto a lift and

immediately noticed that the aluminum

bellhousing had a jagged hole in it and the

pivot for the clutch pedal was completely

missing. The only fix was to replace the

bellhousing and I gave them permission to

do so.

After the bellhousing was replaced

and I got home, I was thinking that the

hole had to result from a defect in the alu-

minum casting. I called Shelby American

and got the Warranty Manager, Harry

Neumann. He explained that the 90-day,

4,000-mile warranty had long expired as I

had purchased the car more than a year

earlier. I countered that this was obviously

a manufacturing defect by Ford Motor Co.

We went back and forth for a bit and he

eventually suggested that I pay for the re-

pair and send Shelby American the paid


now has the

actual check,

which he has added

to his personal treasure

trove of Shelby memora-

bilia. This one, however, is no

doubt valued more highly than

most other things in his collection be-

cause of its personal sentimental value. It

was signed by Helen Green who auto-

crossed a 289 Cobra with her husband

Chuck, who ran the parts department.

The original bellhousing was replaced (that was

before the days when an owner kept everything

taken off his car). The circled area was where

the clutch pivot attaches. It was probably a cast-

ing imperfection that caused the bolts and sur-

rounding area to tear out. Pardee swore that a

powershift was not involved and obviously War-

ranty Manager Harry Neumann bought it.

turned out that Carroll had given Rinsey

a number of old Shelby American cancelled

checks. Rinsey and I worked out a friendly

deal and the check was finally returned to

the person who had cashed it decades be-

fore. Me.