Helping a Friend
Finding and bringing Home Dennis’s ’68 GT 350
by Biff Hitzeman from the pages of PonyTalk
Boy, it was getting really cold out. But after locating the red ’68 Shelby, that could be purchased that night only for a very reasonable price, it didn’t seem to matter how cold it was. A quick trip to the bank and Dennis had the cash. Off we went to Defiance. I’ve dealt on cars in about all conceivable ways but this night would indeed be a first.
The car had been for sale for sometime. No one would pay the owner’s price. A collector from Toledo, who buys Shelby’s only, had finally made a deal to buy it. He was bringing a trailer to pick it up in but the weather had keep him away. Most likely he would be there the following day which was a Saturday. The owner had been unemployed for several months and was in real need of some money. So there we were, 5 below zero, slowly walking around this ’68 Shelby buried in the snow.
It was indeed a steal at the quoted price, but the owner just kept saying, “I just wouldn’t feel right selling the Shelby to someone else after making the deal with the man from Toledo”. Then, as if from an old George Burns & Gracie Allen film, his wife comes out to see what it going on and to remind him they had to go bowling soon. She wanted to know what we were doing there then ended the conversation with, “After all, it is my Shelby and that wouldn’t bother me”. I gave a nod Dennis. He pulled a roll of $100 bills from his pocket, started counting it out on the hood of the car and added $500 to the price. She scooped the money up, went inside and got the title. Her husband never had a chance to argue.
As they dug out the title, I began to unload the Shelby: five tires, three on rims, two tackle boxes and four fishing poles (one had a big ole’ Rapela lure caught in the rear carpet) and enough pop cans to fill three trash bags. Their kids had made a playhouse in it.
The 302 turned over but it was obvious the engine hadn’t been started for a while. Under the hood we noticed a broken header. Of course, the gas tank was empty. Off we went to a station. Have you ever tried to haul gas in your car without spilling any? We’d driven Dennis’s new ’83 Turbo 280ZX Datsun and knew if we’d spill a drop in it Chris, his wife, would kill us. Finally fueled up, the Shelby was running again.
It was very dark and very cold by this time. The clutch slipped as Dennis started to pull the tires free from the ice. The right front tire finally broke loose from the ice but so did the tire from the rim. And the spare was flat. Dennis threw it in the rear of his 280ZX and headed to a gas station. Meanwhile, I removed the front flat. Spare on, we’re off again. About three miles down the road, the car died. Looking the situation over, the battery had a crack in it and alternator wasn’t charging. Off we went, twenty miles back to Hicksville to get the heavy duty battery from my ’67 Mustang GTA and to get Dennis’s ’66 Mustang coupe to help the efforts.
Now you can only drive so long on a battery only. That means no lights, no heater, etc. We sure couldn’t leave the Shelby out on the backroads we were traveling on. The license plates weren’t any good, either. So I ran interference with the ’66 Mule. Dennis had that Shelby right on my bumper. If we`d been stopped by the police, it would have taken a lot of explaining. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, the door lock on the passenger door was frozen and wouldn’t stay locked or closed. Both of us realized that would be a problem when Dennis turned a corner and the door flew open, just missing a mailbox. He had to reach across and hold the door closed the whole trip. I thought sure tying that seatbelt to the door would hold it.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on Chris’s face as Dennis coasted to a stop in his driveway with his super buy. But then again I get the same looks often around my house. Biff