Ten years had passed since Rob Hunt had first cast his eyes upon Hal Baer's '69 Shelby G.T. 500 fastback. When the chance came to buy, he didn't balk.
The year was 1999. Even back then, Shelby's were fetching $75,000 to $90,000. This would be Rob's first Shelby. He was so excited he could not sleep. The next day, he hooked a trailer to his truck and drove 12 hours from Sherman, Texas, to Tucson, Arizona.
In 1999, Rob’s wife, Marilyn, couldn’t believe her husband paid $10,000 for this shell.
"What did you think when you first saw the car?" I asked.
"I thought, 'Wow, this thing is a lot worse than I remembered.'"
Maybe Rob was a little tired. He'd barely slept in two nights. Then again, backyard finds with missing body parts don't necessarily look sharp. But underneath the dust and among the extra parts, this one proved a screaming deal.
Sure enough, once Rob cleaned the car, he discovered a rust-free body. Plus, the $10,000 price included "a ton of N.O.S. parts" that Baer purchased in the 1970s for the car's restoration, including air conditioning, tilt-away steering column, automatic transmission, Sport Deck rear seat, and a 3.25:1 open rear axle.
Better yet, this SportsRoof was the 23rd Shelby off the assembly line for '69 with serial number 480023.
The hunt had begun in Dallas a decade earlier. Baer operated a race shop. Inside, he parked this Shelby, a siren call to enthusiasts. Rob remembers the '69 as "a shell," minus the 428 Cobra Jet engine.
"Hal took the car apart in 1977," Rob says. "That's when the invoices are dated for the parts he purchased."
Previous owner Hal Baer had been accumulating original parts for close to 20 years.
Baer and friend Don Baxter worked together at a Ford dealership in Tucson in those days. Now known as the founder and owner of Baer Bakes, Baer had planned a ground-up restoration. He and Baxter gathered a plethora of parts--an N.O.S. roll bar, headliner, Shelby speedometer, and stripe kit, literally "everything for the restoration," even a spare Ford nine-inch rear end. A huge plus was the set of N.O.S. front Shelby fiberglass fenders in original Ford boxes.
Rob explained, "Those came from Baxter. Hal had given them to him at some point because Baxter had (and still owns) a G.T. 500. But he didn't use the fenders and gave them back to Hal. In 1999, that was a couple of grand worth of fenders."
The rest of the Shelby body pieces--original hood, fiberglass deck lid, and fender extensions--were still on the car. Everything else was stored in Hal's father's backyard shed.
Rob couldn't wait to get his Shelby back to Texas. If he had misjudged the Shelby at first sight, his wife was in for a surprise too.
"When I got home, my wife came out and looked at it," Rob recalls. "I have a picture of her leaning on the back of the car because she couldn't believe I paid $10,000 for that shell. She told me that this was the last one I was going to buy."
Today, both laugh at their initial assessments of the Shelby. Restored, this G.T. 500 has proved a very good investment.