Kimberly V. Althage – November 4, 2021
Gateway Classic Cars has fulfilled a surplus of collector’s dreams over the decades. Those who appreciate racing history and iconic vehicles, those who celebrate or relive their youth, they all visit us online or one of our showrooms. They know we are the largest Classic and Exotic Car Company in the world.
This is how we got to meet Karree. Speaking to her one quickly learns that simply put, she is amazing. Karree became a mega successful entrepreneur while raising seven children, she is also a pilot, and she is a National Fitness Champion.
Karree’s newest venture, Hells Gate Gym (opens Jan 22nd) brought her to our Las Vegas Showroom. She was looking for a 1933 Ford Coupe to represent its grand opening when she stumbled upon this ‘65 Shelby Cobra. Karree explained, “I looked into the bio and was like, ‘oh my GOSH’ and I knew I could not pass it up.”
And who could blame her. Bill Malone was a QA inspector for Gary Davis and Gary Patterson with the Shelby Cobra program for over three years. Bill hand-built this Cobra with such craftsmanship the great Carroll Shelby signed the dash. It is truly an extraordinarily unique Shelby CSX Cobra. For starters, the 427 SOHC motor is an original Ford crate motor from 10th of October in 1966 and is simply priceless. This engine sat on display at Shelby headquarters during its time there and it is the 367th produced on one batch of 500 engines, making it a rare piece of automotive history.
Second, it was a near five-year endeavor that began with acquiring the engine, then mated to the CSX4786 fiberglass body from the Shelby factory. The Shelby team in Las Vegas finished the car. It was their innovative engineering know-how that made the SOHC motor fit like a glove in the CSX4786 body. The engine looked like it belonged there from the beginning and is listed in the Shelby World Registry. Its Coming Out Party was at the annual Fabulous Fords event in Buena Park, CA in 2008.
Karree saw that car and within hours she had the money wired and within a day she flew to Vegas and with her buddy who brought a trailer so they could bring her home. She explains, “It is to precision. Bill talks about every piece and part about why he chose to do what he did and how this car came together.”
Karree had a real difficult June and July. Her Uncle, Bob passed away unexpectedly in a mere five days. He was only seven years older than her, and he was more than an uncle, he was her brother and her best friend. Karree was still deeply pained by her father passing in the late summer of 2015 of Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD). He too was a body builder, and she watched this amazing man she loved so much shrivel away to 97 pounds. “It was horrible to watch,” she explained.
Her dad co-owned a car dealership, Arnie Dahl Ford, Inc. As Karree describes it Glenn and Arnie were such amazing friends, and she grew up loving cars. She said it was the best childhood ever because she would often go to work with her father. She said, “I would sit in the cars on their showroom floor and have love affairs. I often named the cars and would beg my dad to bring them home.” She explained he fell for it only once, because she cried wanting to keep it and he had never agreed to that.
Karree continued, “this ‘65 Shelby Cobra reminded me so much of my father. It was his dream car. Before I even knew the alphabet, I knew the letters A and C and their importance regarding AC Cobra. That car had been on my dad’s wall since before I was born.”
Before buying her father’s dream car, she found her own. She had just purchased Eleanor. Yes, the original, the real deal Eleanor, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 as reinterpreted for the movie. She initially wanted a 427 in a replica Eleanor, but the company went out of business during COVID. Karree vowed she would find an original Eleanor and would buy her.
The loss of her best friend and uncle was just so catastrophic to her soul, Karree didn’t want for anything. Everyone came into town and went to the funeral and as they went to Karree’s home she told her daughter to find her own dream car and that she would get it for her before they went back to Florida.
Her daughter found her dream car and by the time the negotiations were complete they were the only people in the showroom besides the salesperson. It was just her daughter and herself and they were chatting as they waited. When her daughter said, “mom it must be amazing, I mean your dream car, because this car that you’re buying for me today is my dream car.”
Karree then asked her daughter if she was referring the Ferrari to which her daughter said, “yes.” Karree explained her true dream car, her ultimate dream car is Eleanor. As she describes, “this voice from down the hall belts out, ‘I know who owns the original.’” Karree did not believe it. She got up and walked down the hall to where she heard the voice and peeked into his office, he was drafting the paperwork of the sale to the car they were purchasing.
She asked him who. He said it was a man he used to work for, named Wes and that he lived in north Salt Lake. Karree could not believe it, she asked “are you telling me that Eleanor is twenty miles from me?!”
He reiterated, “yes, for the last fifteen years yes, she has been twenty miles from you.”
“Prove it,” Karree demanded. Then she asked if he would text Wes and ask him if he would sell her. After which they waited a couple minutes to get an answer “for crazy money.”
When Wes gave his price, Karree knew she couldn’t negotiate it. She also felt she could not get through an hour without breaking down and having an embarrassing cryfest moment because she was still mourning her best friend and uncle, Bob. She explained, “I told him I would buy her but that I couldn’t see her just yet.”
Wes told her the picture he sent was his own personal garage, and that if she came it would just be her, him, and whomever she chose to bring. He then texted her, “it would probably do your soul some good.”
Karree spent the whole day with Wes, whom she found to be an absolutely amazing man. When she left, she sat in her car for a bit. It was 100+ degrees, but she sat there thinking about her uncle Bob. She imagined him saying, “You’ve always said to me live life while you’re alive. That car has been on your bucket list since the second you saw her. This is no surprise or last second decision, go in there and buy that car.”
Karree walked back into the garage and wrote a check and then drove her home.
Now having Eleanor in her garage, she was beside herself. Every time she walked out to the garage even if just to take the trash out, she would look at her and be reminded of her uncle and father. Adding to that, the ‘65 Shelby Cobra, which she named Jayne Wick after the movies, Karree is transported to her childhood and the times she spent in the garage building engines with her father.
For Karree, losing her father and her uncle has been tough. She acknowledges all the money in the world cannot bring a loved one back, it cannot buy love, and it cannot buy integrity. But for her it has brought some happiness, because seeing those vehicles in her garage is like having her childhood right there.
Karree enjoys reading the accompanying build book Gateway Classic Cars provided with her Cobra. “It’s an exquisite read,” she explains. “I have read it three times now and how every piece was taken apart and put together and everything is noted in explanations of the pictures.”
Karree explains, “the smell, the look of them, it brings all those loving memories back that are so rich and vivid to me. It is like my own little time capsule of spending quality time tinkering on the engines and bonding with my dad and my uncle.”
In fact, herself and her team of experts, Derek Ekins and Nick Ferri have done a similar process of disassembly to shine the engine as if she just came off the line as well as alter the fuel intake due to the higher altitudes. Derek is the owner of Ekins Garage, and Nick is the owner of Nick Ferri Racing and has over 30 years of experience in the high-performance engine building business, and he specializes in not just engine assembly but then the dyno tuning of the engine. Nick told Karree regarding Jayne Wick’s engine that he has “never heard anything that crisp.”
Beyond that, new memories and relationships have been formed as well. She says Lori Jones (Showroom Manager) and Tim Wangler (Lead Sales) of the Las Vegas showroom have been so gracious and kind. Tim passed along Karree’s contact information to the previous owner so he could connect if he chose. Since then whenever Karree finds herself in Las Vegas, she hangs out with Frank, and they talk cars and life. She even brought her book to learn more about Bill Malone who built her Shelby Cobra.
Gateway Classic Cars sells and consigns hundreds of vehicles each month. Do you have a classic car for sale with a story to tell? We’d love to hear about it, please email us at email@example.com to share it.