A few months ago, I wrote about my decision to sell one of the two 1965 Shelby GT350s I owned, also known as my Noah’s Ark problem, and tried to explain it as being more than a coin flip.

In the end, I kept the one I had a lot more history with: 5S249. As I wrote, I’ve owned it for 14 years and driven over 20,000 miles. I know every nut and bolt on the car.

I’m not the only one around here attached to it, either. It was the first Shelby my wife drove, the first one my kids rode in and probably the first one they’ll drive as well. It also long ago was nicknamed the “getaway car” by my wife, as right before our third date, I decided I had time for a drive while she decided to be early. She caught me in the act of what she still believes was a failed escape attempt. It wasn’t — I swear — and I think the intervening years have proved that.

So as you can see, we’re writing our own history with ol’ #249, and that, to me, is what it is all about.

But I’m also very aware that our tenure only represents a small portion of 249’s life. Thanks to the Shelby American Automobile Club, their fantastic Registry, as well as my own sleuthing, I have a complete accounting of 249’s previous owner history as well. But, like my stories above, obviously a lot of this kind of stuff doesn’t convey.

I’ll never know all the stories about any impromptu street battles, or whose kid spilled the first soda in it, or if anybody else tried to escape. The historian in me would love to know all that, and my goal is to document what I do learn and create a permanent record of it.

And thankfully, especially with cars that leave as indelible a mark on folks as a raucous ’65 GT350, nobody forgets owning one, the serial number, or especially the stories.

The call

I’ll tell you how my most recent “cool stuff” moment came to be. Shortly after the column that mentioned #249 by serial number, the phone rang at ACC HQ. It was Terry Allard, the third owner of 249, trying to hunt me down to offer some of that precious unwritten history.

Of course, as Editor at Large, I’ve never even been to ACC HQ in Portland. I hear it rains a lot over there. Well, except for this winter, when it apparently snowed a lot there. And heck, I’ve got that in Wisconsin. Anyway, as a result of me not being there, a message was left that, thankfully and eventually, worked its way downstream to me. And when it hit my desk, I immediately dialed Terry.

The conversation that followed was further proof of my opinion that Shelby guys are the best.

Terry told me how in the early 1970s, besides being a Formula B racer in the SCCA, he was also a Navy pilot flying out of Oxnard, CA. He was driving a Boss 302 when he met a pilot in another squadron who had 249 — complete with faded paint, American Racing 200S mags, and obvious signs of being driven like it was intended to be. But 249’s pull was undeniable to Terry, and even though he also had a ’66 GT350 that he bought new, the Boss 302 was quickly traded even-up for 5S249.

Terry recalled not liking the Detroit Locker rear end, and how he eventually sold 249 for $2,500 because, with two young daughters, a Shelby with no back seat wasn’t the ideal family car.

As we kept talking, Terry dropped more details about 249 that I didn’t know, such as how the other pilot had found it on the used-car lot at Vel’s Parnelli Jones Ford in Torrance. I knew that 249 was sold new at Carroll Shelby’s Hi-Performance Motors dealership, but the fact that it was later sold as a used car at Parnelli Jones’ dealership? Pretty damn cool. This is the kind of priceless info that can be gained from previous owners.

In my long conversation with Terry, my pen never stopped moving as I feverishly took notes, now all a part of my file on the car. Not necessarily for my benefit, as I won’t forget these great stories, but perhaps for my kids long after I’m gone and they dig through that file to see why their dad liked this old Ford so much.

Before we hung up, I invited Terry to come and visit his old car whenever he wants, and since we share a love of airplanes as well, I suggested we meet in Milwaukee and run 249 up to the Experimental Aircraft Association Oshkosh fly-in show one of these years. I hope that happens.

The file

And then the very next day, something even more odd happened. My good buddy and Shelby nut Craig Conley from California sent me a text saying he was just handed something I’d want: a file of paperwork for 249.

As crazy as it sounds, Craig was looking at a ’66 GT350 that was for sale when the seller said, “Do you know who owns 5S249 these days?” Turns out this fellow had been good friends with another previous owner of 249 and had helped him maintain it. When the owner passed away, 249 was sold, but the file — with just about every receipt from a decade of care — was forgotten. Now reunited with 249, it joins all the other documentation and notes in the file.

Funny how things happen, isn’t it? One little mention of the car here in ACC led to some major information thanks to Terry wanting to share it. And then out of the blue a friend’s path crosses with that of another Shelby guy who knew better than to throw out that file because someday he’d find the car again.

Many of us joke, “If only this car could talk.” We know they won’t, but that’s okay because the history is out there. Sometimes we find it, and sometimes it finds us. And it is a pretty amazing thing when it does.

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