The Shelby American (Winter 2021)

s a young kid growing up with a car-minded father, playing with Hot Wheels and build- ing model cars was natural. Many of us grew up in this scenario and the next generation will continue to do this. Hot Wheels, die-cast, slot cars, radio-controlled cars and scale models filled my bedroom as a young boy. Any- thing on four wheels within my budget (keep in mind a kid’s budget isn’t much…mainly acquired from refund- ing soda cans and mowing lawns) was continually played with, taken apart, put back together with pieces from other cars, batteries swapped out, tires changed, and every detail observed and tested. On the opposite side of our split level home sat the most incredible piece of machinery in the world ac- cording to my young mind: that would be my Dad’s 1967 Mustang fastback, A-code, 4-speed, Frost Turquoise, 3:00:1 rear end, deluxe interior with console and overhead console and al- ways off limits to my grimy little hands. At first, the car scared me from the loud exhaust when my Dad would buckle my car seat into the car and take me for spirited drives, but as I grew older my fascination with the car increased. I carried a Mustang decoder book in my pocket; I could decode and read about a car to the last detail without actually touching it. The pas- sion, desire and fire grew inside me for all sorts of Ford power. Remember, this was before Kevin Marti came out with his Marti Reports, so the decoder books were the best source for finding out what that VIN tag meant. That lit- tle 289 Mustang with its original paint and 63,000 miles on the odometer would make a huge impact on my life but I had no idea what was coming. Time marches on. Over the next few years the model cars and Hot Wheels started to multiply and take over every available space in the house: china hutch shelves, TV entertain- ment stand shelf space and anywhere else Mom would allow a nice display in the house. Growing up in the 1990s, Hot Wheels and diecast cars were a big thing. Lines at Toys-R-Us were out the door for collectors searching for that “rare” little toy car. There were endless trips to swap meets, trying to find the “Treasure Hunt” cars or find that coveted color-optioned car. Toy car collecting began getting a little over- board for a young kid like me. This kept the passion going which natu- rally grew into collecting books and reading about what many of these cars did in the decades prior. History about different car manu- facturers and race car drivers became the focal point for many of my school projects and book reports. I read about things I was interested in. From 10 to 14, I thought I could accomplish these school assignments by learning about Carroll Shelby and the history of his cars. I actually tried to phone Carroll Shelby when I was in the fifth grade by calling information but was never able to get through to him. My book and literature collection really took off. And as we know, it can easily snowball into something beyond what you expect if you’re not careful. Talk about a fire-hazard in the house! The number of published books on Shelby and his cars is astounding and the more I had, the more I wanted. I could not get enough. Actually, I still have that problem. Book shelf after book shelf is full of Ford Racing, Shelby, and Hot Rods, consuming a significant space in the house. The SHELBY AMERICAN Winter 2021 57 – Brian Littlefield A It’s got to start somewhere. Dad’s passion for automobiles rubbed off on me. Here I am at 2 or 3 years-old [ left ]. In 1992 I won Second Place in a model contest at the county fair [ center ]. Tool time: I had my own set of tools when I was 12.