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Wild Bill’s Car Connection

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By Billy B. Ruiz
Central Dakota Times
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Make and Year of Vehicle: 1968 Shelby GT500 Two-Door Hatchback
Owner: Dave Geisler, Owner of Pioneer Auto Museum of Murdo
Stock or Modified: Stock
Transmission: C6 Automatic
Motor: 428
Rear-End Gear Ratio: Stock Posi-Trac Nine-Inch Ford
Interior Package: Black with Bucket Seats and Floor Shifter
Color: Red with White Stripes
Wheels and Tires: Cobra Mags and Radials- The original Bias Goodyears are shown in this article because this reporter thinks they are the reason for all the accidents.
Intake-Carburetion: Holley
Accessories: Shelby Dash Floor Console with Shifter-Shelby and Cobra badges and highway patrol car behind it.
Brakes: Disc Front, Drum Back

Special Memories: Last year, I witnessed local car guy, Boyd Thiel arriving in town with his new Ford pickup pulling a loaded car trailer. I immediately recognized the car on the trailer as a 1968 Shelby. I didn't’t have my Canon with me at the time but I watched them unload the car, thinking Boyd had found another play toy. The car looked so good; the thought never crossed my mind that this was to be a restoration. By the time I say the car again, it was in pieces on the shop floor. I don’t mind saying it looked awful sad. The scene from the “Wizard of Oz” where the flying monkeys grabbed the scarecrow, flew off with him and dropped him from the sky onto the ground with his leg off and arms all jumbled up, came to mind. I took pictures anyway and asked Boyd if I could come back from time to time to see the progress. After finding out Dave owned the car, I ran into him at a photo shoot I was doing at the induction to the South Dakota Hall of Fame. Dave and I go way back, so far that he forgot who I was until I mentioned a few cars we had been involved with together. Although we were in the powder room and boys usually don’t carry on conversations there, we spent a few minutes talking about his Shelby. It’s a car guy thing that overrides the macho thing. Boyd contributes the low mileage to being in the museum for 25 years.
Top Miles Per Hour: Believe me; you don’t want to go that fast.
Actual Mileage and Miles Per Gallon: 75,000 and Unknown
Two Door or Four Door: Two Door
Exhaust: Dual
Suspension: Stock
Reporters Notes: A feller by the name of Carroll Shelby, who was forced to retire from a successful racing career was about to wind up a successful building career. His idea was to build a car that would blow away every other car on the face of the earth and he succeeded. The idea was to marry the European chassis and suspension and the American V8. Ford was not his choice of a power plant. General Motors was given first choice but declined. The Corvette was the biggest seller Chevrolet had and they didn't’t want to jeopardize that. Big mistake. Lee Iacocca was laying the groundwork to produce a sports car to compete against Corvette and Shelby was his godsend. The Cobra made its debut in 1962 at Riverside. Billy Crause was ahead of the pack by a mile and a half when it broke a stub axle. This is no bar story—a mile and a half lead on the best in the world. The prototype was built in Shelby’s garage, a space he shared with Dean Moon. In 1965, Cobras brought Shelby Ford and United States the first ever World Manufacturer’s Championship. Shelby had a grudge with Ferrari and was out to blow them off the track. He accomplished just that when he won at Daytona, Sebring, Oulton Park, Nurburgring, Rossfeld, Rheims, and sweetest of all, Monza. They would have won the LeMans if Carroll had used the new seven liter motor but Shelby didn't’t want to offend Ford. Even with Ford’s smaller motor, they took second behind his arch rival, Ferrari. Perhaps the rarest Ford in history was the 1968 Shelby Convertible GT500KR (King of the Road) as only 313 were made. The Shelby made Ford no real profit so in ’67, ’68, and ’69, a much bigger car was built with luxury components like air, to keep the weight down. Fiberglass fenders were added. It was called the Gt. The cobra name was dropped but they kept the badges and the 428cu was born. The original version in ’67 was called the GT350 because it was 350 feet from his engine shop to the assembly line. The new GT500 was almost uninsurable because it had the highest rate of accidents in automotive history. The 428ci had 360 horsepower and could destroy a set of rear tires in one evening on Main Street USA. In 1969, a federal ban on horsepower was in the works so, Carroll Shelby asked Ford to release him from the Total Performance Program and the remaining 601 Shelby Mustangs were given airdams, black hood strips and 1970 serial numbers. They were the last of the 14,368 Mustangs Shelby built and the days of the Corvette killer were “gone for good, good and gone, gone with along before it, gone for the day, gone for the night and gone for the rest of our doggone life.” What a wonderful piece of history. Thank you, Dave for letting us do a car connection on your Super car. Thank you, Boyd for the high quality of workmanship you and the boys produce. The car is going through a final process of adjustments as we go to print this week but Mr.Thiel promises us Dave will have the car in time for his yearly car auction at his museum in Murdo on Armed Forces Day, the 17th of this month. I have four cars on the sale bill myself but you won’t need the $150,000 plus this car will bring to deal with me. It will be a great weekend. Come on down to Murdo and bring the little woman’s checkbook.

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