Mark Lopez together with his household’s GT350.
Attain again into your Competitors Press & Autoweek archives. Pull out the July 29, 1967, difficulty, flip to the classifieds and proper there on web page 19 — between spots for a ’67 Alfa Romeo GTV and a ’64 Lotus Elan — you’ll discover an advert: “1966 Shelby 350GT — Mustang, White with no stripes, black inside, Blaupunkt AM/FM radio. Low miles, like new. $2800. Too many vehicles.”
It was precisely what Sharon and Jack Lopez had been on the lookout for. “My dad was racing and my mother wished a brand new automotive, and one of many vehicles they wished was a GT350,” says son Mark Lopez, talking somewhat over half a century later. Now, this wasn’t simply any GT350: It was supplied on the market by none apart from CP & AW president William Finefrock. However by the point the Lopez household referred to as, it had already been bought.
That’s the place the story of the 1966 Shelby GT350 bearing serial quantity 6S290 ends, and the story of this 1966 Shelby GT350, serial quantity 6S289, begins. It seems that CP & AW writer Russ Goebel additionally had the keys to one in every of these vehicles—fascinating occasions for the workplace parking zone, certainly—and whereas it wasn’t listed on the market, he supplied the Lopez household a take a look at drive anyway. In order that they headed to the journal’s headquarters in Lafayette, California, to test it out.
“I bear in mind very effectively sitting within the again seat with my brother, Rick, as our dad and mom test-drove it, and naturally, being a 7-year-old child, I informed them, ‘You gotta purchase this automotive,’” Lopez recollects. “A pair days go by and we’re staying at our grandmother’s home and we hear a automotive pull up. We went out at, like, 10 at evening, and positive sufficient, our dad and mom had purchased the GT350.”
Mark, left, together with his brother Rick prepping the GT350 for a household journey to Disneyland in 1968.
He knew it was one thing particular—how may he not? However then, there was all the time one thing particular within the Lopez driveway. “We had some good vehicles across the household, and this was a little bit of a continuation of that,” he says, noting specifically his dad’s Triumph TR4 racer and a ’55 Jaguar XK 140. “My buddies didn’t have them, however alternatively, (the GT350) was only a household automotive; we took journeys to Southern California in that automotive, vacationed in that automotive,” Lopez says. “We simply parked it within the lot at Disneyland or the San Diego Zoo. It’s not like we preserved it or something.”
The truth that it remained within the household in any respect, slightly than going the best way of all these different cool machines, is bittersweet. “My dad and mom sadly bought divorced round 1970-71, and my mother saved the GT350. I really feel that if my dad and mom did keep collectively, my dad might have bought it in anticipation of the subsequent automotive.”
His mom drove the automotive “till ’77, when it bought form of run down. She caught it within the storage and stated ‘I’ll work on it later.’ It sat there for 28 years.”
Life moved on. “I hadn’t been being attentive to the automotive world in any respect. I bought married, had children. However in 2005, I heard that the Shelby membership (Shelby American Vehicle Membership, or SAAC) was having their annual conference down in Los Angeles. I requested my son, ‘You realize that automotive that Grandma has within the storage?’ and he’s like, ‘Oh, the one with all of the cardboard containers and carpet on it?’”
Mark Lopez together with his household’s GT350.
So father and son headed to Los Angeles to look at vehicles like theirs, sans detritus, in motion. Previous to the occasion, on the recommendation of the late restorer Jeff Dunn, he excavated the automotive, eliminated the glovebox door and took it with him for Carroll Shelby to signal. “I’ve a photograph of me and my 12-year-old son with Carroll Shelby as he signed the glovebox, with Carroll shaking my son’s hand. After that weekend, I used to be like: ‘That’s it.’
“It was a month after that that we pulled the automotive out of the storage, took it to Dunn’s store and commenced the 18-month restoration. However that’s what bought me began: taking place to the SAAC occasion, watching all the fellows with their vehicles and saying, ‘Effectively, I’ve one in every of these, however it’s not able to drive.’”
6S289 didn’t obtain your typical overrestoration. “We went by it and took it proper all the way down to the metallic. For those who take a look at it at the moment, the factor is tremendous straight … there aren’t any dimples or dings wherever on the automotive.” However, Lopez notes: “The inside is authentic. Within the again, it’s bought the hump
I sat on once I was 7 years outdated on that take a look at drive. It has patina; the driving force’s seat has somewhat break up in it. I wished the automotive to appear like it’s in showroom situation if you stroll as much as it, however I wished to maintain a number of the historical past, too. That’s why I left the inside intact—the best way it was.”
Together with these touches, the automotive retains its authentic powertrain, wheels, Koni shocks and two Blaupunkt radios with an electrical antenna. “Due to how I made a decision to revive the automotive,” Lopez explains, “I don’t plan to race it. However I do take it out on parade laps of the monitor.” Not that taking it to occasions was the impetus behind the restoration—he says he by no means actually supposed to indicate it off. For him, the primary factor was, and is, the connection to his household.
Regardless of an entire exterior restoration, the GT350’s historical past has been preserved on the inside, which is authentic — save for the addition of Carroll Shelby’s signature on the glovebox door.
“I bear in mind one time after we had been driving to Half Moon Bay, in California, the place my grandmother was residing. I used to be asleep within the entrance seat, and I awoke listening to the engine simply revving like I used to be in a race. I regarded over at my dad, and, positive sufficient, he’s smiling. We’re going up this hill and there’s a Porsche 911 in entrance of us, and my dad is correct there on his tail,” Lopez says. “And as we’re climbing the hill, the Porsche hit gravel and slid out and went into the bushes. So we pulled over actually fast and helped the man. It turned out that my dad and him saved contact for years. No person bought damage, all people had enjoyable and it’s caught with me.”
Fifty years in, it doesn’t appear to be the automotive is leaving the household anytime quickly. “Sometimes there’s discuss within the family about promoting the GT350,” Lopez says, “however there aren’t any plans to take action right now.” And so, it’s nonetheless making recollections.
“I take it out each two weeks or so only for a drive. I ask my spouse, ‘You might want to go to the shop?’ And we’ll take it to the shop,” Lopez says. “With my children, it’s the identical factor … we’ll go for somewhat drive, simply to maintain them concerned with the automotive.” His older brother Rick will get in on it, too: “He attends a number of the automotive reveals with me, and he’s all the time desirous to share the historical past of the household automotive with these round.”
It’s hardly stunning, although, that a number of the most significant moments within the automotive contain his mom. “When the restoration was completed and we introduced it over, I stated, ‘I’ve bought one thing within the storage I wish to present you.’ She noticed it and he or she began bawling … it had been 30 years because it had been on the highway. I stated, ‘Let’s go on a drive,’” Lopez says. “It was a candy, candy factor. It was actually particular to her.”
Over the course of the practically three many years it sat in that storage, Lopez says, “Individuals would ask to purchase it, and he or she’d say: ‘No. Sometime, sometime, it’s going to be again on the highway.’”
We’ve all heard that line earlier than, positive. Solely on this case, 6S289’s ongoing journey with the Lopez household did find yourself with the beloved automotive returning to the highway — and that journey began on the pages of Competitors Press & Autoweek half a century in the past.
This text first appeared within the September 18, 2017 difficulty of Autoweek journal. Subscribe right here.
The Lopez household was given this Competitors Press & Autoweek keychain once they bought the GT350 — and Mark nonetheless has it at the moment.