He was attending car shows and
swap meets, picking up showroom lit-
erature, books and magazines and
whatever else he would see that was
Shelby related. At this point there was
no grand plan to amass a giant collec-
tion. That happened gradually. Before
he knew it he had boxes of “things” in
just about every spare space he could
find. Soon he was renting a couple of
garage-sized storage facilities which
were packed with boxes of Shelby
stuff. His garage was also stuffed.
He began specializing in very high
end Russian antiques in his business
and was hugely successful. A Shelby
here and there were added when he
found one he liked. One prerequisite
was that they had to have an interest-
ing or noteworthy history. The culmi-
nation, at that point, was the purchase
of 5R002. He wanted the first GT350
competition car very badly so if paying
a top-of-the-market price was re-
quired, so be it. The next step, not
taken immediately, was the car’s
While all this was happening,
Atzbach’s collector gene was still rag-
ing. Instead of spending time traveling
to various swap meets and shows, he
purchased entire collections from a
couple of the more notable Shelby lit-
erature and memorabilia collectors.
This proved to be an excellent way to
expand his collection without spend-
ing the time required to pick things up
one at a time. On the downside, he
suddenly acquired a lot of duplicates
as well as things he had no interest in.
As a collector, it was all packed away.
Between the growing collection of
cars and the avalanche of collectibles,
it was time to find an appropriate
place to store and display them. With
the current building he has accom-
plished that nicely. Of course he still
has a couple of storage units packed
with duplicates which are proving dif-
ficult to let go of, but little by little he
has employees putting duplicates on
eBay. They have a lot of work ahead of
them; so much that they might want
to think about retirement plans.
Atzbach notes there is a difference
between a collection and an inventory.
In his antiques business he is both a
dealer and a collector. Some things he
buys to keep and the rest he buys to
resell. With the Shelby stuff, he does
not consider himself a dealer.
Presently he is only looking to add
things that appeal to him. He is not
trying to get one of everything. That,
he concedes, is an impossibility. Yet, he
confesses that when he sees some-
thing he does not have he feels that lit-
tle tug somewhere deep in his psyche.
The SHELBY AMERICAN
] compliments 5R002 [
]. The red car is 6S2265, a factory Paxton car.
Winter 2016 66