New Zealand Classic Car - - FEATURE -

Here is what I know for sure about the Shelby. I pur­chased the car from Rankin Ford in my home town of Lon­don, On­tario in late 1967. I traded a 1967 Fire­bird that I had only owned three months. Rankin Ford had two in stock. The other one (a red 427) was bought by Scott Wil­son, a well-known drag car racer. When I was work­ing for the Lon­don­free

Press [lo­cal news­pa­per] in the ad­ver­tis­ing depart­ment, Chip Com­stock — who owned Com­pe­ti­tion Mo­tors in Lon­don — was a client of mine. He ac­quired the Alfa Romeo Deal­er­ship in 1969, and I went to see him. Be­ing a young car guy, I was anx­ious to see my first Alfa in per­son. As a good sales­per­son, he tried to sell me one. But I was an Amer­i­can mus­cle car guy. In or­der to serve him bet­ter in his ad­ver­tis­ing, he of­fered me a test drive. Af­ter I brought this great lit­tle car back to him, I told him how im­pressed I was with it: I wasn’t in­ter­ested, but I knew my new wife would re­ally like it. I was pretty star­tled when he told me to take it for the week­end. I gave him my own­er­ship for the Shelby as col­lat­eral. He told me this was cus­tom­ary pro­ce­dure. He ‘jok­ingly’ said as I was leav­ing: “I al­ready have a buyer for your car”. I said back: “Yeah, I bet you have,” and thought no more of his com­ment. When I brought the Alfa back and asked him for my car, he said it was sold. At first I thought he was jok­ing, but he be­came very ag­i­tated (he was a lo­cal tough guy) and as­sured me [that] the car was gone and I owned the Alfa. I was stunned, but had to go to work. I was told by my boss that in fact, I legally had a right to get my car back. When I ap­proached Chip the next day, he told me [that] the buyer was an English­man and he al­ready had shipped it. I didn’t know that I had any re­course. I was only 22 years old and very stupid. That is how I ended up own­ing the Alfa. I never signed over the own­er­ship, and as far as I know, no one else ever had ever reg­is­tered the Shelby un­til around 2008, af­ter the On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice [OPP] con­tacted me to tell me the car had been found in a barn in On­tario, and that I was the reg­is­tered owner. I was pretty ex­cited, but the of­fi­cer told me that it would some time be­fore the theft was re­solved, and that I should wait to hear fur­ther from them. I never heard from them again. Af­ter not hear­ing back af­ter about a year (my wife told me to be pa­tient and not pester the po­lice) I called the depart­ment to get an up­date. They would not give me any answers, or con­nect me with the of­fi­cer in charge, un­less I could give them the se­rial num­ber of the car, which of course I didn’t have. I wish now that I had known about the Shelby Reg­istry. I even emailed head of­fice of the OPP, but didn’t get a re­sponse. I tried go­ing to the pro­vin­cial records ar­chives to search the ti­tle, but they only go back eight years. I tried the in­sur­ance com­pany that held the pol­icy on the car, but they had since ceased op­er­a­tion. I gave up un­til 2010, when it came up in con­ver­sa­tion at the golf course … [and] a re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer of­fered to help. I gave him all the de­tails, left on my win­ter hol­i­day, and he guar­an­teed [that] he would have the car in my laneway by the time I got home. When I got in touch af­ter my re­turn, he said [that] he had lo­cated the car and was in touch by email with the of­fi­cer who was on the case, and that he knew per­son­ally. He said he was told the car was still in the barn. We tried sev­eral times to get the lo­ca­tion, but the of­fi­cer told us that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was still on­go­ing. Af­ter another pe­riod of time passed, my of­fi­cer friend got im­pa­tient and asked if we could see it or just have the se­rial num­ber so [that] I could get a new ti­tle for the car. The next story we were told is that the barn was ac­tu­ally an api­ary, and that the bees were too ac­tive this time of year. We told him we could ar­range for pro­tec­tive suits from a friend, but he still balked. This back and forth went on for months, with the po­lice telling me the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was on­go­ing. Ac­tu­ally, I now know that the ti­tle had al­ready been in Scaife’s name since Fe­bru­ary of 2010. How he got the se­rial num­ber to do this, I don’t know. Why the po­lice kept stalling me, I don’t know. I fi­nally started le­gal proceedings in late 2013, which took a pe­riod of time and too much money. Then the car was sold in 2014, then went to the States in 2015. That is when I gave up. I cer­tainly har­bour no grudge against sub­se­quent own­ers, in­clud­ing your­self. As a mat­ter of fact, just the op­po­site. I am a 71-year-old work­ing artist, and no longer have the time or re­sources to do what you are do­ing for the Shelby. I am de­lighted it has fallen into re­spect­ful hands. I wish you well with your project, and would be ex­cited to have the odd up­date on the progress if you are so in­clined, and can take the time.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.