With the 2017 “Hot August Nights” Collector Car Auction just around the corner. Auto enthusiasts are getting a chance to buy some of the finest collector vehicles in America. One of the most unique cars this year is a 1968 Shelby GT500 that was stolen for 40 years.
February 9th 1970, Robert Lanyon discovered his 1968 Shelby GT500 gone, not to be seen again for 40 years. Unbeknownst to him, the car was in his same city the entire time.
Fast forward to July 11th, 2011. Sergeant Tim Sullivan, a Mustang enthusiast himself, while following what appeared to be a 1968 GT500, ran a registration check out of curiosity. To his surprise, the check revealed a registration for a 1965 Mustang, immediately raising red flags in his mind. “If you know Mustangs, you can tell the difference in the bat of an eye,” stated Sullivan. Sullivan pulled over the Mustang and noticed that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) tags had been removed. Although the driver had proof of registration and ownership of the “1965” Mustang which he had inherited from his deceased Uncle (Heinicke Estate), Sullivan knew something wasn’t adding up. San Mateo PD impounded the GT500 for further inspection.
Detective Shawn Parks of the Vehicle Theft Task Force was next to Inspect the “1965” Mustang. Upon inspection, he confirmed that the car was indeed a 1968 GT500. Being 40 years old though, no records were found in the state system. Parks and Special Agent Dave Roccaforte dug a little deeper and found the information needed with the Shelby American Registry.
The information within the Registry confirmed the original VIN number that Parks had discovered. Along with original ship date of December 4th, 1967, original plate numbers, and the original owner’s name: Robert Lanyon. The question then became, who gets the car? Mr. Lanyon or the current inherited owner?
In a hearing dated May 21st, 2012; Lanyon and the Heinicke Estate entered into a litigation regarding ownership of the vehicle. In the end, because Lanyon had received between $3,800-$5,000 in insurance compensation for the vehicle in 1970, it was found that the car would go back to the Heinicke Estate.
Now five years later, the GT500 is set for auction on August 12th at 4pm. The question again becomes who is going to take ownership of this one-of-a-kind GT500? The car itself is pristine. With 61,000 miles, original parts, matching tags, and all documentation regarding its history, this car presents the unique opportunity to feel like Nicholas Cage in Gone in 60 Seconds everyday!
Make sure to check out the listing at www.motorsportauctiongroup.com as its sure to be an auction as exciting as its rich history. — Christopher Chung