I was about 100 photos into my search of the two races for the Bondurant car when I found what we have been calling the "Oh Crap" photo. It was a photo of the Parnelli Jones car at Laguna Seca, seen from behind with the rear bodywork removed. What I saw immediately was a front perforated cross member above the transaxle which turns out to be unique to the Parnelli Jones car and very much present on Fred's frame. A subsequent photo was found of Shelby Team Members stripping the Parnelli Jones car down to the frame after the wreck and fire at Laguna Seca. This photo showed several more features that are unique to Fred's frame. It also showed very little damage was sustained in the crash and fire, it was up on its wheels and looks pretty straight.
At this point I was convinced that Fred has the Parnelli Jones car and not the Bondurant car. The Parnelli Jones car has been claimed by another Cooper-Ford for the last 27 years, this car is now owned by Donn Vickrey of Carlsbad, CA. I immediately set to work to determine which car Donn really has and it turns out he definitely has the Bondurant car. I really have to credit both owners for their high level of integrity and desire for the truth to come out, after an initial and completely understandable brief period of freaking out.
The story with evidence is quite long and convoluted, I'll try to be brief with a readers digest version.
After the crash and fire which destroyed the bodywork on CM/6/64 (Parnelli Jones car) the bodywork from CM/5/64 (Bondurant) was transferred to the Parnelli Jones frame, and the car went to Lothar Motschenbacher for '65. The Parnelli Jones car came back to Shelby after the '65 season and was subsequently sold to Terry Kniss of Seattle, WA. Kniss sold the car to a couple of individuals in the Seattle area who put a McLaren Mk1 body on it. It was sold to a team from California who won a regional championship with it in 1970. It ws then sold to Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams) and it appeared in a TV show called "Wheels". It went through a couple more owners and eventually ended up in Fred's hands in 2007.
The Bondurant car had an equally interesting history. At the end of '64 the Shelby organization was contacted by Ford Advanced Vehicles in England requesting a car for Roy Salvadori to drive in '65. The Shelby replied with some very key information, the gist of it was "Sure, you can have one of the Cooper-Fords, it has some new suspension modifications we think you will really like, and oh by the way it doesn't have a body, you should get one from Cooper". The car was shipped and a new body was fitted in England. Salvadori raced it 3 times early in '65 with limited success. The car then made its way back to Shelby where it was offered in the famous "Garage Sale" ads. Oscar Kovaleski purchased CM/5/64 and CM/4/64 in '66 and sold CM/5/64 to James Brown III who raced it in '67 and '68 in the SCCA, he was 4th in points in the Northeastern Region in '68. He sold it to Francis Larkin who has provided us with some great photos showing the suspension modifications that Shelby did which are unique to this car and present on Donn's car today. It went through several owners after that ending up in the hands of Barry Brown who restored it as the Parnelli Jones car in '85. It is unknown why Brown restored it as the Parnelli Jones car because several previous owners knew it was the Bondurant car.
The evidence gathered to date is I believe undeniably conclusive. As the registrar for these cars with SAAC I have amended their entries in the registry and will include them in the next printing of the big book. Donn Vickrey has put #96 on his car and had Bob Bondurant sit in it at a recent event. We just want to use every avenue we can think of to get the word out about the change. We are all very fortunate that the cars really are "sister" cars from a bodywork perspective, the changes required to go from the Bondurant car to the Parnelli Jones car are subtle and can be accomplished fairly easily at this stage of development.
Edited by chuckbrandt, 18 June 2012 - 19:29.