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Classic cars allowed to cruise in Riverhead

THE CAR AND ITS OWNER 1967 Shelby GT

THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1967 Shelby GT 350 owned by Bob DiGiamo

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
When 1950s race driver Carroll Shelby retired due to a heart condition, little did anyone know that his influence on performance cars would continue right into the 21st century. After he stuffed high-powered Ford engines into small 1960s British sports cars, he worked his performance magic on Mustangs, starting with the 1965 GT 350 and going all the way up to the present GT500. DiGiamo’s metallic blue ride is one of only 1,175 produced in 1967, the last model year for Shelby assembly at a Los Angeles Airport facility.

“The process to create a Shelby started with specially built Mustangs, which came from Ford’s San Jose plant and were shipped partially complete to Shelby American for modification,” he says. “Unique Shelby features include suspension upgrades and performance enhancements to boost horsepower, as well as a unique body modification, including a fiberglass hood, side scoops, rear spoiler and tail light panel. The ten-spoke aluminum wheels were unique to Shelbys.”

HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
Since 2005

WHERE HE FOUND IT
DiGiamo’s car was tracked down by a Pennsylvania Shelby expert and locator during a months-long search.

CONDITION
“The Shelby had been restored by a prior owner in the 1990s, but the restoration was showing its age,” DiGiamo says. “I located all parts that were needed to bring the Shelby back to its original state, including the AM radio and unique aluminum wheels. The interior, engine compartment and chassis were in excellent condition. The body of the car was meticulously finished” by a Long Island shop specializing in Shelby and Mustang restoration.

TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Join the Mustang & Shelby Club of Long Island,” he advises. “The Club has monthly meetings in Massapequa and Hauppauge, where you can meet people that have a lot of experience with these cars. Also, if you are considering the purchase of a Shelby, validate the authenticity of the car with the Shelby American Automobile Club.”

VALUE
Current auction estimates for these cars are in the $70,000-$90,000 range, although some have sold for more. DiGiamo says the original invoice price of his car was $4,611.18

PERSONAL COMMENTS
“The early Mustangs are basically in my blood,” he says. “My father purchased a ‘68 red Mustang fastback in 1969, when I was in the ninth grade. The Mustang became my car when I was a senior in high school and it was my daily transportation to college and work. There was always a Mustang project at our house growing up. I spent my early years working on them in the garage and exploring junkyards on weekends with my brother to find parts. My brother and sister both drove ‘69 and ‘70 Mustang Mach 1s to school and the tradition continued years later when my daughter purchased a 2001 Mustang.”

FOR SOMETHING NEW
Check out the 2012 Shelby GT500 at your Long Island Ford dealer.

Turning an old problem into a tourist attraction, the Riverhead Town Board has approved a plan to allow classic cars to cruise along the Peconic River waterfront from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Thursday night.

The informal “classic cruise” used to take place in Wading River last year, sometimes drawing crowds so large that it tied up traffic on the narrow, hilly streets.

Now, starting Thursday through June 23, the cruising will take place in the town parking lots along the river, behind the Main Street business district, and the event will be sponsored by the downtown Business Improvement District.

“It’s a win-win for the town,” said Councilman George Gabrielsen.

Supervisor Sean Walter, whose law office is in Wading River, said all it took to move the event was finding a sponsor and then informing drivers about plans for the venue change — by getting up on the back of a pickup truck at one of the cruises and talking to them.

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