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Rare Shelby Mustang headlines auto auction

The Owls Head Transportation Museum will hold their annual auto auction this weekend.

OWLS HEAD, Maine — Just as he did 56 years ago, John “Mac” McComb pulled the hood clips on the old Shelby Mustang, to show off the high-performance 289 V-8.

“It's 400 horsepower,” he said. "The car weighs 2600 pounds.”

It’s a car Mac McComb drove, very fast, just two weeks after he bought it new from Shelby in 1966 and won his first two Trans Am series races. 

The Mustang, with the big-time racing history, will be the centerpiece of this year’s New England Auto Auction at the Owls Head Transportation Museum, taking place on Saturday, August 27.

“I can’t tell you how having this car back has brought up so many memories,” McComb said, as he showed off the engine compartment of the now-restored Mustang. 

The car is gleaming white with two blue stripes, just as it was when he first raced it to successive wins and helped Ford claim the 1966 manufacturer’s championship. 

McComb would go on to race a 1967 Shelby, then drive for other manufacturers in his career, and teach at a racing school.

He retired to Maine in 2012 and began volunteering at the Owls Head museum. That’s when Toby Stinson, director of the annual auto auction, learned his story, and that of the 1966 Mustang.

The car, McComb told him, was still around, owned by a collector.

“I wrote in my head an unofficial mission seven or eight years ago,” Stinson said. "I’m not going to rest until we get John’s car at the museum because the history has to be completed, and we have to tie the circle back together.”

So, the museum worked out the details with the car’s owner and arranged for it to be sold at this year’s auction.

The value is listed as between $800,000 and $2 million.

“On its own, this is a world-class artifact worthy of any historical interpretation,” Stinson said.

He said there is a lot of interest in the car, but potential bidders are being quiet about their intentions. 

"High-end auctions are like a game of Texas Hold ‘em," he said. 

The car’s history, the Shelby legacy, and the fact that only a handful of the ’66 racers still exist all contribute to the value, Stinson said.

For the museum, Mac McComb’s history only adds to the value of the Mustang. 

For McComb, it's been a chance to reconnect with his personal history.

The museum hopes bidders will feel the same enthusiasm and want to make the car their own.

It will most likely go to a private collector for display, said Stinson, but McComb said the powerful car deserves a more active retirement.

“It ought to be driven,” he said as he sat just beyond the driver’s door. 

“That’s what it was made to do.”

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