In the summer of 1966, 26-year-old John Zeggert bought a ’66 Shelby GT350 Fastback from Reynolds Motors in Syracuse, New York. It was resplendent in Wimbledon White with LeMans stripes and a black interior, just as he had been reading about in car magazines of the day. He plunked down his $4,261 for the car (including $105 in destination charges) and brought it home. Just days later, his job with GE sent him overseas on assignment to work on missile guidance systems, and he put his Shelby on blocks to await his return.
On Friday, Zeggert will say goodbye to his well-kept GT350 for the last time as it crosses the auction block in Indianapolis. It’s estimated to fetch between $275,000 and $350,000, a nice retirement sum for this Shelby fan and his family. Before the new owner drives it away (or, more likely, trailers it home), Zeggert is telling the story of his 56-year-old car and why it has fewer than 30,000 miles on the clock after all this time.
Over the years, Zeggert spent most of his time away from home and from his GT350 due to work. He kept the car in pristine shape, ensuring it was maintained on schedule. Under the hood are the original 289 cubic-inch (4.7-liter) engine, Hi Riser manifold, and the T10 four-speed transmission. The car has pulled mostly light duty over the last couple of decades, like carrying the Queen of Hearts for the local high school prom.
Zeggert kept much of the original equipment on the Shelby, but he did make a few important modifications. For one, he said the Shelby would “start complaining” on hot days, so he installed a new radiator. And early on, he had a Paxton supercharger installed to increase the power. You may remember when Paxton co-owner Andy Granatelli fitted one of his blowers to a GT350 with Carroll Shelby’s blessing and smoked Shelby’s own 289 Cobra during a demonstration.
“I had read that these superchargers were the ticket,” Zeggert told me. “And that’s when the fun started because it added 100 horsepower. I paid $2,500 or so for the entire kit, including the fuel pump and everything else I needed; it was worth every penny.”
Today, the GT350 still has its original spare tire, Holley 750 CFM four-barrel carburetor, ignition coil, starter, alternator, and voltage regulator. It also sports the original windshield wiper motor and reservoir, interior and exterior lighting, instruments, radio, seats, and carpeting. The fuel pump and water pump were rebuilt in 2021, and the radiator was re-cored in the same year.
Two and a half years ago, Zeggert had a terrible accident when he fell off a roof and “damn near killed myself,” he said. His hip was broken along with several other bones, and he was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down. Fortunately, Zeggert has mostly recovered from his injuries, but he no longer wishes to wrestle his beast into submission. He says it puts the muscle in muscle cars.
“I can’t use the clutch anymore,” he said with what sounded like traces of both sadness and resolution.
Zeggert’s wife drove the car a few times, but he said she got tired of not having power windows and bored with the loud exhaust as they got older. Now that the GT350 is leaving their garage, the Zeggerts can share their other car, a 2009 Shelby GT500 with a hydraulic clutch.
“I can’t drive (the GT350) and the market is peak so now is the time to let it go,” Zeggert said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, I’ll tell you that.”
Get a glimpse of the GT350 at the Mecum Auctions Indianapolis event this weekend before it finds a new home.
Got a tip? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.