This ’66 Shelby GT350 Has Been Lovingly Maintained by Mark Lopez’s Family for 46 Years
It was a cloudy East Bay area kind of day when I shook Mark Lopez’s hand and went to work burning these inspiring digital images of his ’66 Shelby GT350.
The car has a fascinating story, and Mark presented it and the car so well. The original classic Shelby Mustangs of the ’60s have the advantage of rarity and real racing history on their side. They spanked Corvettes in Sports Car Club of America B-production competition nearly 50 years ago, and they enjoy a great legacy in the automotive world. Mix in the effervescent personality and character of the late Carroll Shelby and you have a formula for attention and plenty of it.
The automotive press, of course, was crazy about the Shelby GT350 and gave the car high performance marks. When it started winning races, both the press and the public noticed. It very quickly shed its rebodied Falcon image. Two ’66 GT350s were delivered to Competition Press (now AutoWeek) in San Francisco by Shelby American on Nov. 5, 1965. These GT350s were among very few purchased directly from Shelby American in Los Angeles.
This particular GT350 was Publisher Russ Goebel’s daily driver for nearly two years.
In August 1967, Mark and Rick Lopez’s parents purchased 6S289 from Competition Press and used it as a daily driver for 10 years. It was driven on vacations down to Southern California, which Mark and Rick remember vividly. “Our dad drove the car at Sears Point Raceway the day of the first official race in December 1968,” Mark reflects, “then, in November of 1977, it was placed in the family garage where it was stored and maintained for nearly 28 years.”
Mark adds, “Over the years, my mom offered the car to me to get it restored, but I had other things going on at the time.” In July 2005, when Mark was at SAAC 30 with his son in Southern California, he brought the GT350’s glove box door for Carroll Shelby to sign. Shelby gladly signed the door. A month later, Mark moved the Shelby from his parents’ house to the shop, where restoration was begun in earnest.
Golden West in the East Bay community of Hayward, was an extraordinary restoration shop run by the late Jeff Dunn. Mark visited Jeff’s shop a few times a week during the 18-month restoration to chat with Jeff and watch the progress. “It was a great experience watching Jeff and his associate Chris Canadian put life back into 6S289 after 28 years of storage,” Mark relates, “Jeff was a true craftsman who restored our Shelby to a thing of beauty, yet knew how not to over-restore the car.” Mark and his family were very pleased with the final result of the restoration and maintain the car like never before.
Our world lost Jeff Dunn in January 2011 while he was doing what he most enjoyed, working on cars. Mark is glad that 6S289 was completed prior to Jeff’s passing, but he is sorely missed. Jeff was great at what he did and a great friend, as well.