POWER PROFILE: John Saia Earned His Stripes with This ’66 GT350

Californian John Saia was snake-bit early on. “I first fell in love with Carroll Shelby and Shelby American cars when I saw a Cobra for the first time at the Hershey Hill Climb in Hershey, PA” says the owner of SFM2060.

With road time first in the cockpit of a ’64 Fairlane sport coupe followed by another in the form of a ’67 GT 390, Saia was well versed in the Ford nameplate when he located his 1966 Shelby GT350.

Unafraid of modern hazards, Saia’s GT350 regularly prowls the streets of its SoCal home.

“I don’t call it a hobby, it’s more a passion for me” says this Army veteran. “I’ve always had an interest in mechanical things and how things work…cars in particular.” Saia has been an ASE certified master technician for 40 years.

Today, Saia consults with an ASE-related firm, the ASE Education Foundation, serving as Field Manager working with and accrediting automotive vocational programs at the secondary and post-secondary level.

With its bully looks and menacing attitude, this GT350 is always ready to rumble.

Much like a mechanical master, Saia explains that like all ’66 Shelby’s #2060 began at Ford’s Mustang production line in San Jose, California then shipped south to the Shelby American production facility located at the Los Angeles airport (LAX). Upon completion at Shelby’s facility, the Shelby was shipped to Detroit, in its original Ivy Green color.

Having sold his first Shelby in 1979, Saia added his current GT350 to the stable in 2002. “For the last 17 years, #2060 is driven every week for doses of sunshine, fresh air, high-test, and red line verification,” Saia states.

“This was a ground-up restoration done in 1990-1991 by the second owner,  who, as part of the restoration, painted the car in Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue LeMans stripes as you see it today,” adds John.

Putting power to the pavement comes courtesy of Ford’s venerable K code high performance small-block specially tuned by Shelby American.

With no apologies, John’s ’66 Shelby commands attention even standing still.

 

STRIPED LIGHTNING

As a master technician you’d expect John to express his craft through his cars. To that end #2060 doesn’t need to look further than its formidable stable mate. Saia’s 1965 period correct, Factory Five Daytona Coupe does not disappoint!

Paying homage to Shelby’s racing heritage, this Factory Five ’65 Daytona Coupe makes quick work of any commute.

Sparing no expense, the Type 65 Coupe was built with all new components including a fiberglass body. Like the original six were campaigned, it has a fire breathing blue oval powerplant topped with 48 IDA Webbers. John’s Daytona is a blur wrapped in Guardsman Blue and Wimbleton White Lemans stripes.

Sparing no expense, John's Daytona puts all who dare on notice that if you want to go, you better pack a lunch.

Saia, a long-time member of the national Shelby American Automobile Club and locally, the Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club believes these cars were meant to be driven as he puts them through their paces every week. “We can pretty much do that here in Southern California, year-round, given our great weather!”

Decisions. For Californian John Saia, it’s an easy one.

As this certified mechanic points out, “There’s always something to work on with cars like these but it’s always a joy. Every time I walk into the Shelby Garage I get a thrill.”

One look inside and you’ll understand why.

 

Do you have a story that needs to be told? Email JP Emerson to share your story.

About the author

JP Emerson

My affliction with vintage iron is matched only by my knowledge of classic Rock ’N Roll. Although a heavy lean to all things Ford blue, I have a sharp appreciation for all makes and models, especially those that gulp gas and drop oil to mark their territory. Having provided work for multiple magazines, manufacturers, SEMA, and a top secret list of celebrity and auto insiders, I understand the bond between cars and owners.
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