If you had the chance to build up your own, single-make collection, what brand would you choose? For Gary Thomas, the marque he went with was Ford. Not only that, his focus is on the high-performance models from the past, and a few ones from not too long ago. The Petersen Automotive Museum also calls Thomas' selection “one of the, if not the, best Shelby car collection in the world”.
Thomas' assortment of Ford and Shelby models is so extensive, Petersen needed to break it all down in a three-part series. So if you have about 40 minutes to spare today, these videos are worth a watch. And if you think it's all about Mustangs, it's not. There is also a good mix of other fast Fords in this video. That said, the entire collection is not featured, but that's because there are about 200 cars under Thomas' roof.
According to Thomas, it took him about 40 years to amass all the cars he has at the moment. The Texan also has a load of spares neatly organised in his warehouse, along with other Ford-related memorabilia. Not only that, some of the cars have a story to tell. One of those cars with an interesting background is a black 1968 Shelby GT500KR.
The GT500KR is a rare beast, but Thomas' example is made extra special because of three autographs. These come from Carroll Shelby, Lee Iacocca, and Chuck Cantwell. Without those three persons, the legend of Shelby, the GT350, and the Mustang wouldn't exist. With those big names signed on the car, it is one of the most valuable cars in the collection.
But aside from the Shelbys and the Mustangs, Thomas also spoke fondly of his black Sunbeam Tiger. The British roadster is a stark contrast to the cars in the lineup, but there is a Blue Oval and Carroll Shelby connection. The Tiger was designed in part with Shelby, with the latter fitting a Ford 260 cubic inch (4.3-litre) V8 in a Sunbeam Alpine. After that, Shelby stuck a V8 in the AC Ace, and the rest is history.
Thomas also has a wide selection of Ford models from 1932 to the 1950s. There are street rods versions of the '32 Fords, along with standard versions of the car. He also has several 1939 Fords, a '42 Tractor, and SVT models from the early '90s.