By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ralph Lauer
The 1966 Shelby Mustang once was available for $17 a day, thanks to Hertz. Today, it’s a cool collectible.
It’s already a steamy summer morning, and the sun has yet to rise above the tree line. Paun Peters is dressed for the weather in shorts and short sleeves as he strolls out onto the spacious lawn that fronts a carriage house at his Fort Worth home. While the main residence is a historic estate renovated by Peters, the garage was built to house his passion: automobiles. With the four sets of double doors open, the horsepower stabled inside is visible: two Thunderbirds, a pair of Ferraris and an Aston Martin. Taking its place on the grass is a gleaming 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350-H, one of 1,000 cars Shelby made that year. The first 100 were four-speeds; the rest, including Peters’ Shelby, were automatics.
Peters is a well-known enthusiast, and these six cars represent just part of his collection. While the Aston Martin headed to California in August for auction, the Shelby will be on display this month at the annual Park Place Luxury & Supercar Showcase in Las Colinas. Peters will be part of an enthusiastic Fort Worth contingent that participates in the weekend showcase. Like most collectors, Peters spends a good chunk of time looking for new acquisitions, be they online, through his various connections or at the well-known auctions such as Mecum, Barrett-Jackson and Russo and Steele. “I do like the quieter shows,” he admits, and he always goes as a bidder — even if he doesn’t plan to buy — to get a good seat. “The nice thing about auctions is that it’s like being part of a big fraternity, one that shares a love of cars.”
He discovered the Shelby in Pleasanton, California, at a Goodguys show where the seller was with a friend who was showing another muscle car. The seller had purchased and restored the Mustang for his granddaughter, who was attending Harvard. Before he could give it to her, she died unexpectedly, and he put it up for sale. “I made a deal with him over the phone and had it inspected by a local vendor before having it shipped to Fort Worth,” says Peters, who has owned it for about 10 years. Shelby fans will recognize the special-edition fastback as being part of the Hertz “Rent-a-Racer” fleet before the program was discontinued due to expensive repairs. The rental fee back in 1966 was $17 a day and 17 cents a mile.
Peters has kept the black Mustang with gold Le Mans stripes in solid running shape. (He did have the plexiglass rear side windows replaced.) And this is not his first Shelby Mustang. “Growing up in Bedford, I remember a neighbor who drove for Carroll Shelby and who owned a gorgeous red GT350,” says Peters. “I loved the sound of it.” In 1975, when Peters was a freshman in college, his dad bought that car for him. “I was the happiest kid around and spent more time with the car than with my studies,” Peters says with a smile. “Dad said the car had to go.” Today, Peters is able to afford his own “toys.”
His first collectible was a BMW 850CSi, a luxury car that also was fast and powerful. Two years ago, he was looking for a Porsche and ended up with a 1962 VW bus that became known as the “monkey mobile,” as it was used to transport Peters’ kids and grandkids around town for ice cream or a pleasant joyride.
He also has had Jay Leno as a passenger in a 1959 Silver Cloud Rolls. Five years ago, Peters donated a ’53 MG Roadster to the UNT Health Science Center for its annual fundraiser, which features a major entertainer every year. “As thanks, I got to pick up Jay at Meacham [airport] and take him to Bass Hall for his show.” The late-night trip back to the airport in the Rolls included a stop at Sonic — Leno’s pick out of several fast-food options — with the famous comedian.
Today, Peters says he has been on the hunt for a Packard of the 1929 to 1939 vintage as he transitions away from American muscle cars. He jokingly talks about the five emotional stages he goes through as a collector. “There’s the search, the discovery, the pursuit, the agony and, of course, the buyer’s remorse.”