Cobras and GT350 Mustangs may not be the most desirable vehicles for the snow, but when world-renowned race car driver and designer Carroll Shelby owned South Shore Motors in the 1960s, the high-powered sports cars held a permanent place on the showroom floor.
Today, the Ford Lincoln Mercury and Subaru dealership may not have the vintage roadsters on the lot, but having the original owner considered one of the best racers of all time is something its current management is proud of.
With the main floor under remodeling, the Ford dealership has remained at its original location past the "Y" for 32 years. And with only two other owners to its name, the dealership is still running smooth.
"Shelby needed a place to sell and service his product," said current owner Fred Streeter. "I used to work for Shelby and he would ship unused Mustang and Cobra parts to this location all the time from his manufacturing office in L.A. We had to throw them away because we were getting so many. I wish I still had them because they would be worth a lot now."
Originally known as Shelby Ford, the dealership was sold to Richard Anderson in 1976, who changed the name to Shelby-Stephens Ford on behalf of private interests. Streeter was good friends with Anderson and in 1983 took over the dealership based on a handshake with him and some intensive paperwork with Ford.
Having been friends with Shelby for many years, Streeter says the race car driver still frequents the dealership when he comes for a stay in his vacation home. A Subaru is even parked underneath the carport in case he pops in unexpectedly, which he is known to do, Streeter added.
Like Shelby, Streeter, too, is a car buff owning many Shelby classic Mustangs. At one point, he restored vintage cars on the side.
"The only car I have left in my collection is a Shelby Convertible," Streeter said. "I started out washing cars at a dealership and the rest, as they say, is history."
Streeter's love of the automobile led him to open his second dealership in Reno in 1990, Streeter Imports, a Mercedes/Nissan dealership.
Despite coming to his Tahoe office two to three times a week, Streeter believes the South Shore dealership is unique.
"We are soldiers of niceness here," laughed Streeter. "We have an excellent sales staff and community. We hope for a bright future and that redevelopment will revitalize us all."
By relying on repeat and referral business South Shore Motors strives to offer competitive prices to its local clientele.
"Everything west of the 'Y' is like a Bermuda Triangle - most people don't even know we're here," said Darren Pryor, finance manager.
Zak Salah, general manager, agreed.
"The community has been very good to us, but we are trying to get rid of the myth that things cost less in Reno and Sacramento," Salah said.
"We take care of our own."