A NOTE TO HANLO FROM BARRY RICHMAN, THE ORIGINAL OWNER
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.