Shelby Mecca: Ohio Shop Houses Dozens of Barn Find Mustangs

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Signature Auto is 27,000 square feet of old-school Ford and Shelby Mustang heaven.

Old Ford and Shelby Mustangs meet a variety of fates. Some stay in the families of the people who originally bought them. Others were driven into the ground years ago and are rusting away in a field somewhere. Then there are those that are locked in barns and eventually discovered by someone with a wad of cash and even more know-how and determination. Rick Parker is one of those someones and he’s filled his massive shop with dozens of once-forgotten vintage Mustangs.

The video above from Youtuber Jerry Heasley takes you on a video tour of Signature Auto in Gahanna, Ohio. Parker’s enthusiasm for and knowledge of Mustangs led him to opening a 1,500 square-foot shop 19 years ago. Over the past two decades, he’s steadily expanded his business’s footprint, which now measures a whopping 27,000 square feet. He’s putting the space to good use housing dozens of Ford and Shelby Mustangs – and that’s pretty much it. There’s a Ranchero here and a Fairlane there, but everything else is a Mustang of one kind or another. No other brands, especially Chevy. Ford and Shelby Mustang Collection

A red 1966 coupe with a HiPo 289-cid V8 greets visitors in the lobby. Beyond that is a 3-D wonderland of Mustang history, ranging from Parker’s own 11,200-mile Boss 429 to a 1966 Shelby GT350 to a 1969 Mach 1 Super Cobra Jet to a 1967 GT500 with a 428 under its hood. Parker estimates about 70 percent of his inventory is part of either his personal inventory or his business’s fleet of cars. While most are completed restorations, some have yet to receive Signature Auto’s frame-up TLC. The remaining 30 percent of the Mustangs shown are customer cars. Ford and Shelby Mustang Collection

While Parker doesn’t say how many hours are usually put into each restoration, he does state that each car is assigned 35 bins that store its various loose parts during the tear-down and rebuild processes. His crew draws from a huge inventory of parts including rear ends, blocks, and heads. As Parker puts it, his business is its own best parts customer. In a separate room, technicians assemble and detail engines – such as the 351 from a ’71 Boss – before installing them in the various Mustangs on site.

It’s nice to know that there’s a place aside from the scrap yard for old Mustangs to go. Signature Auto just has to find them first. Fortunately, it seems to be pretty damn good at doing that.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum, H-D Forums, The Mustang Source, Mustang Forums, LS1Tech, HondaTech, Jaguar Forums, YotaTech, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts. Derek also started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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