042717 Fast lane: For collector, Shelby GTs are slow, steady investment
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Fast lane: For collector, Shelby GTs are slow, steady investment

By Nikki Best
Coastal Observer

It was the Summer of Love. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band topped the charts, Apollo 1’s fire on the launchpad devastated the nation, the finale episode of The Fugitive TV series aired and the first car Carroll Shelby was “really proud of” rolled off Ford’s assembly line.

The 1967 Shelby GT500. The fastback racer is no longer something realistic car enthusiasts conceive of owning, they’re happy just to see one. It’s a rare car. It’s even rarer to find one in pristine condition, with original rear glass and autographed by Shelby.

The dream of hearing the 500 horsepower, 427 cubic inch V-8 roar to life in person is one that some can cross off their bucket list thanks to Tom Goetz, a Heritage Plantation resident. His 500, as he calls it, is one of six left in the world with the original dual quad intake.

“I’ve probably had a dozen girls come up to me at shows by the name of Shelby,” Goetz said. “Their parents couldn’t afford the car, so they named a daughter after it. Which is a hilarious and cute story.”

Goetz, 78, is a car guy. He was born in Detroit, so 10W30 practically runs in his veins. He ran dragsters as a young man in the 1950s and early 1960s. That’s when he figured out he wanted to be an engineer.

“I raced in a 1934 Ford,” he said of his hot rod. “A hand-built engine. I raced, but then I had children. I had to work.”

Goetz worked his way through school while slugging steel first at the Chrysler Corp. then the Ford Motor Co., where he eventually became an engineer. His expertise lies in engine design, manufacturing and quality control. He spent 31 years with Ford, retiring out of Lorain Assembly in Ohio, and then worked seven years as a consultant all over the world.

After working in the automotive industry for nearly four decades, Goetz speaks frankly about the cars. It’s factual and it’s anecdotal. There’s pride and appreciation for a powerful, well-built machine, but he delights in his family most of all.

His wife of 55 years, Maryanne, has put up with him, his cars and racing for a long time, he said. “I took the engine out of one of my race cars back in 1962 to buy her engagement ring,” he said. “It was an important thing. Everybody thought it was crazy.” He has three boys and one girl, all born within five years, and 12 grandchildren. Goetz lights up when he talks about them. He brags. They’re his life, the cars are a hobby. A fun one, but they’re investments.

“I’m fixing up the red one,” he said. “It’s a fun car to drive because, back in the 1960s, Chevys and Mustangs were the car you could hang your arm over the window and have fun.”

The “red one” is a 1968 Shelby GT350 Convertible, and the newest acquisition to the local line up. It’s on deck to become his daily drive following some clutch work. In addition to the two Shelbys, there’s a 1935 Ford Roadster, painted Palm Beach Gray, with a rumble seat and a 2006 Ford GT. In California, he’s got nine other investments, and in Kansas City there are two.

“It’s better than the stock market,” Goetz said.

The return may not be as fast, but there’s also less of a risk in the investment if you do it right. Goetz is an expert. He picked up his 2006 Ford GT in 2012. Its original sticker price was $140,000. Ford manufactured a touch over 4,000 units. In 2017, they’re valued at an average of just below $400,000 with factory specifications. Not surprising for a car whose back tires run $3,700 each.

“What’s funny, these came with stripes down the hood in the front and you had to order them without the stripes,” Rob Doerr, who helps Goetz care for the cars, said. “They called it ‘stripe delete.’ There’s only 22 made without stripes.”

Doerr is another car guy in town. His love for them started in childhood. “I blame my mom,” he said. “She made me have a 1968 Mustang as my first car. She can talk cars with the best of them.”

The former chef restores old motorcycles and has a reputation around Pawleys Island as the go-to guy with cars. For him, the motivation comes from the joy of buffing a fender’s curve, the feeling of a V-8’s purr and learning a car’s history. Doerr likes to track down the facts and little stories that bring the metal to life.

“This one’s been fascinating because we didn’t have the documents, so I’ve been researching it,” he said about the red Shelby. “It was in a warehouse for over 20 years.”

Goetz got it four years ago. The GT350 won first prize at the Antique Automotive Club of America’s national show in 1994, so that was Doerr’s first call when the internet was a dead end. Unbeknownst to him, the emblem number on the award was wrong so the AACA searched by VIN. “So I give her the VIN and she says, ‘Red Shelby? 302, four-speed? That number was wrong, the engraver did it wrong. I’ve got the right tag here in an envelope,’” he said. “I said, ‘You’re kidding me.’”

It was through the AACA records, and a little luck, that Doerr tracked down the former owner of the GT350 and was able to secure the original paperwork for the car. “It was just neat to, you know, find that car-people still exist that don’t use the internet,” he said.

It was in large part thanks to Doerr’s research on “the red one” that brought home the Bill Jones Memorial Award at Mustang Week 2016 in Myrtle Beach. Jones died in 2009. He was a founding member of Mustang Week. “I didn’t know I was talking to his daughter,” Doerr said. “She was just going around asking people about their cars, and I guess people either gave her the cold shoulder or didn’t know the history of the car, and so I was just talking like I’m talking to you.”

Doerr may or may not have cried when accepting the award.

The pair met when Goetz moved to Pawleys Island in 2004. He was searching for the right place, and help, for his cars. People kept telling him that Doerr was the person to know, Doerr said. “Because I look after other people’s cars in town,” he said. “So he pulls in my driveway and says, ‘Hey I need to meet you.’”

Doerr keeps up with the cars’ maintenance, keeps them clean and drives them. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

Goetz says his family, cars and golf keep him busy. He’s got a 2008 Shelby GT convertible his children bought him for his 70th birthday. “That’s my beater,” he said.

Future plans for the dedicated Cleveland Browns fan include watching the beginning of the NFL draft tonight, trips to see two of his grandchildren graduate high school and keeping an eye out for his next investment, an original GT40.

“One of the ones that won the races at Le Mans in 1964,” he said. “We’ll get one of those, and one of the new ones, and then sell the three as a total collection.”

If you want a taste of the old days, a chance to see the cars in person, they make the rounds at local car shows. The award-winning Shelbys will make an appearance at Mustang Week this fall. The GT500 wins Best in Show every other year, Goetz said.

“I take them there because people like to see the cars,” Goetz said.

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