Sam Aiello wasn't looking for a Shelby. However, his friends at work knew he liked Mustangs. One day, a co-worker said, "Hey, Sam, there's a Shelby in the classified ads."
As a heavy equipment operator, Aiello is a member of the Operating Engineer's Union, which publishes a quarterly paper called Engineers News. Most of the classified ads in the back list items such as a fifth wheel trailer or maybe two acres of land. Among those odds and ends, a '68 Shelby G.T. 500 "rolling chassis with a rebuilt 428 and four-speed transmission set to go" looked like a possible diamond in the rough.
Aiello lives in Southern California but he was working on a project in Northern California. The Shelby wasn't that far away in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco.
Excited about the prospect of owning one of his dream cars, Aiello called the phone number in the ad and was encouraged. Turns out, the Shelby's owner, Edward Lazzari, was a retired Operating Engineer.
Aiello had a hard time sleeping for three nights, fretting that someone else might call and buy the car before he had a chance. Finally, Saturday arrived. Sam followed directions to the house out in the country. "I had to go down a dirt road," Aiello says. "He had the garage door open and I could see the Shelby."
Although the lettering in the side stripes said "GT 350," Aiello already knew that the fastback, painted gold with black stripes over the factory white with blue stripes, was actually a GT 500, originally equipped with a 428 Police Interceptor.
Aiello got along well with Ed and his wife Louise. They talked for "a couple, three hours." The fastback had been on blocks for 25 years, but it was a rust-free original except for its matching numbers 428, which had been stolen before Edward and Louise bought the car from the bank in the early 1970s. They installed a small-block, which explained the GT 350 on the side. Ed got tired of people inquiring about what happened to the big-block. So instead of installing a 428, he changed the stripes.
In the meantime, Aiello rounded up a correct 428 Police Interceptor, along with new suspension parts and body trim. The Shelby was disassembled but the pieces were there for a restoration.
The asking price wasn't cheap at $64,995, but Lazzari dropped the figure to $50,000 for his new friend. To document the Shelby, Aiello got in touch with a Shelby registrar in the area. The Shelby American Automobile Club's Registry jived with the Lazzari's story, plus the Shelby serial number corresponded to the Ford VIN. A handshake sealed the deal. Aiello had his dream Shelby.
Louise remembers, "You'd have thought he was a 16 year-old with his very first car."
Aiello bought the Shelby on April 10, 2013. The interior was "perfect," the body was rust-free, and the parts were all there. Aiello began the restoration almost immediately. He plans to go back with the stock white paint with blue stripes.