Car enthusiasts stare in awe whenever they see the rare 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 owned by Jimmy “Chicken” Smith.
The sleek muscle car is all original, and, it’s only one of eight that was manufactured with factory air, automatic transmission and the big-block 420 and twin 600-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetors.
“This car only has 55,000 miles on it,” said Smith, who lives in Albertville. “It’s never been out of the state of Alabama. I’ve never had it more than 100 miles from home.”
Smith gets the car out for two car shows a year, one being the Goodyear Car and Tractor Show, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 28 in the plant parking lot on Meighan Boulevard.
“I love the Goodyear show and, weather permitting, I come to it every year,” he said. “It’s like a homecoming for me; a family reunion.”
Smith worked at Goodyear in Gadsden for 37 years and retired in 2000.
“It’s wonderful to see all of my friends at the car show,” he said. “We’re like family. We grew up together. Our children grew up together. I always park my car at my favorite spot against the fence and all of my friends know they can find me there.”
At the 2013 Goodyear Car and Tractor Show, Smith’s car won the coveted Car Show Committee’s Choice plaque, the highest honor given.
“I drove it to and from work for five years but then I had to park it in 1972 when the 110 octane gasoline it required was no longer available,” he said.
Parking his muscle car was hard because he loves fast cars, beginning in 1962 with the Chevrolet Corvette.
“I loved the car but my wife did not,” he said of the Corvette. “She couldn’t see over the dash/speedometer cluster so she couldn’t drive it.”
Smith and his wife, Jean, took the Corvette and $1,400 to a Birmingham car dealership and purchased the Mustang.
“That was a lot of money in 1967,” he said. “I only made about $10,000 a year at the time.”
Like his annual salary, Smith saw the value of the 1967 Shelby Cobra increase as well. It is insured for $200,000, and he has refused an offer to sell it for $250,000.
“My children asked me who was going to inherit the car,” he said. “I couldn’t choose. So, I said me and Jean would get it out and enjoy it ourselves while we can.”
Smith tuned up the car and put Goodyear Polyglas tires on it. Goodyear Polyglas tires are no longer mass produced and are only manufactured for owners of period cars. In the 1970s, Smith paid $11 each for his Goodyear Polyglas tires. Now, they are $218 each. Adding to the expense of the Shelby Cobra, Smith also found the racing fuel that fills its gas tank.
“I have to drive 30 minutes from my house just to fill it up,” he said. “It costs $7.25 a gallon, so I don’t get the car out very much.”
The event includes an appearance of the 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500. Free registration begins at 7 a.m.
The first 100 registrants receive a free t-shirt. All participants are eligible for a drawing for a set of Goodyear, Dunlop or Kelly passenger tires. Door prizes include car accessories, gift certificates and cash will be given away. Beginning at 9 a.m., a hot dog and drink can be purchased for $1. Ice cream will also be available. There’s no cost for spectators.