By the time Dave Szott reached his sophomore year at New Jersey's Clifton High School in 1984, he was already a stand-out offensive lineman for the football team. That's when his father made a promise: If Dave earned a football scholarship for college, he would buy him a car.
Mr. Szott knew his son had a shot at the scholarship; he didn't know that Dave's car of choice would be a '67 Shelby.
Two years later during his senior year of high school, Dave received his scholarship offer from Penn State. His father stood by the offer, paying $12,500 for a two-owner '67 Shelby G.T. 350.
"It was clean and ran well, but it needed paint, a headliner, and stuff like that," Dave says. "As a 17-year-old high school kid, I didn't have any money to put into it."
So the Shelby sat in his father's garage while Dave used an old '70s Ford as his daily driver during his four years at Penn State. In 1990, Dave’s financial situation improved dramatically when he was picked in the seventh round of the NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent 11 years as an offensive guard. He moved to the Washington Redskins for 2001, then returned to his home state of New Jersey for a two-year stint with the New York Jets before hanging up his pads and helmet in 2004. Today, Dave is still active in professional football, serving as the Director of Player Development for the Jets.
Throughout the moves, Dave's '67 G.T.350 followed him around the country. During his time in Kansas City, the Shelby finally got a fresh coat of black paint, applied by Midwest Mustang in Lawrence, Kansas.
In these days of high-dollar restorations, it is refreshing to see a Shelby that has not been treated to a full-scale rotisserie restoration for concours competition. Yes, Dave’s Shelby has never been apart. And Dave could care less about the aftermarket distributor and minor signs of wear and tear, although two years ago, Dave sent his G.T. 350 to the Paint Shop and Body Works in Mount Freedom, New Jersey, where owner Fred Ciccarelli "went through" the 61,000-mile Shelby to bring it up to its current condition.
"He stripped the body for a repaint and replaced things like the aluminum dash pieces," Dave says. "He also reforged the rear leaf springs and rebuilt the front brakes. The engine and four-speed transmission haven’t been rebuilt since I’ve owned the car."
While most of today’s vintage Shelbys see more time on the show field than on the highway, Dave continues to drive his G.T. 350 on nice days. You’ll often see the black Shelby at the New York Jets facility—protected by NFL-level security, of course. In fact, he and some of the players often designate an "Old Car Day" for driving their vintage rides to work.
Twenty-five years after earning that college scholarship, Dave Szott is enjoying his Shelby more than ever.
Sidelights and a Hertz Connection?
With Shelby consecutive unit number 00134, Dave Szott's G.T. 350 was the 134th Shelby built for model year '67. Astute Shelby aficionados have already noticed the side marker lights in the upper scoops on Dave’s Shelby, which identifies the car as one of the earliest ’67 models. According to the Shelby American Automobile Club's '65-'67 SAAC Shelby Registry, the lights were used on the first 200 cars, then discontinued. A Shelby American memo, dated December 2, 1966, refers to problems certifying the "eye-level brake and turn signal light."
And if you've never seen a black '67 Shelby, that's because only 54 were built (2 percent of the total 3,223 '67 Shelby production), primarily very early cars because Shelby American anticipated a continuation of the Hertz rental car program from '66. With black intended as a Hertz-only color for '67, Shelby American included black in their initial orders for '67 Mustangs. When the Hertz program failed to materialize, the cars were built as standard G.T. 350s.