Muscle-car legend owned first Ford dealership on South Shore
April 10, 2008
Many entertainment and sport icons are known by one name: Cher, Madonna, Bono, Pele and Bond … James Bond, to name a few.
But for muscle-car enthusiasts, one name stands out as an icon: Shelby … Carroll Shelby.
Shelby, as many people know, was a race-car driver and still designs and builds high-performance automobiles. And here’s the especially interesting part for South Lake Tahoe: In 1968, the man of muscle built and owned the first Ford dealership on the South Shore.
Zak Salah, current owner of South Shore Motors and the fourth owner of the dealership in the past 40 years, said he didn’t realize Shelby owned the original dealership until Salah came to Lake Tahoe in 1992 and started work as the dealership’s general manager.
“I think only a small handful of people, mostly longtime residents, know that Carroll Shelby owned the dealership,” Salah said. “From what I understand, Shelby built the building first and then asked Ford for the dealership.
“Ford said, ‘Carroll, you’re a car designer, not a salesman,’ but they decided to let him have the dealership, which he owned until 1973, when he sold it. I’ve met him twice here in South Lake Tahoe but never really got the chance to talk to him about the dealership.”
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Shelby began his relationship with Ford in August 1964, when the company gave Shelby the green light to develop a high-performance Mustang Fastback for the street and track. Later that year, the first ’65 Shelby GT 350 was produced and sold for $4,547, with no options available. In January 2007, the first Shelby GT was sold at a Barrett-Jackson automobile auction for $600,000.
In September 1969, Ford stopped producing Shelby Mustangs because they weren’t selling. The last of the cars sold in 1970.
But in the early 1980s, Shelby teamed with Chrysler to produce high-performance vehicles based on Dodge products, such as the Viper in 1989.
Recently, Ford has partnered again with Shelby, bringing back the Shelby GT 500 in 2007 and 2008, with production limited to 10,000 vehicles per year.
Though the cars are rare, Salah said he would help customers find one.
The sticker price for the 2008 Shelby GT 500 starts at around $40,000 and goes up from there, depending on options.
The current Shelby still is mystical, Salah said.
“I think it was the dream car of baby boomers when they were teenagers, and now they can afford it,” Salah explained. “The muscle-car era has come back.”
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