HomeThe MarketStolen Shelby GT500 headed to Hot August Nights auction

Stolen Shelby GT500 headed to Hot August Nights auction


Mustang savvy police officer spotted GT500 stolen 41 years earlier | MAG photos
Mustang savvy police officer spotted GT500 stolen 41 years earlier | MAG photos

On February 9, 1970, Robert Lanyon discovered that his 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500 had been stolen. Even though the car remained in the same vicinity, Lanyon would never drive it again.

Forty-one years after Lanyon’s car was stolen, Tim Sullivan, a San Mateo, California, police sergeant and Mustang enthusiast, was following a ’68 GT500 and, out of curiosity, ran its registration. The report came back that the car wasn’t registered as a ’68, but as a 1965 model.

“If you know Mustangs, you can tell the difference in the bat of an eye” said Sullivan, who immediately became suspicious, signaled for the car to pull over and saw that the car’s VIN tags had been removed. The driver had proof of registration of a “1965” Mustang he said he had inherited from a deceased uncle.

GT500 is mostly original with one repaint
GT500 is mostly original with one repaint

The car was impounded pending additional investigation, according to the Motorsports Auction Group.

Another police officer, Det. Shawn Parks from a vehicle theft task force, inspected the car, confirmed it was a 1968 model, but could find no records of a car so old in state records. However, Special Agent Dave Roccaforte did find the needed details by checking with the Shelby American Register, which confirmed the original VIN, the December 4, 1967 shipping date, the original plate numbers and that the car had been originally owned by a Robert Lanyon.

A hearing was held in May, 2012, to decide if the car belonged to Lanyon or to the estate of the uncle. Because his insurance company had paid Lanyon’s claim on the stolen car, it was ruled that the car belonged to the uncle’s estate.

Five years later, the car becomes available for its next owner as it is scheduled for the docket for the Motorsports Auction Group (MAG) sale August 10-12 in Reno, Nevada, during Hot August Nights.

The car goes to auction with 61,000 miles on its odometer, proper tags and, MAG said, all documentation. The car, which has been repainted once, is equipped with an automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, tilt/slide away steering wheel, air conditioning, AM radio, original fog lights, and more.

To see other vehicles consigned for the auction, visit the MAG website.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
  1. I would think the insurance company would be the legal owner, I can’t see it legal for the estate to own a stolen vehicle

  2. Nota Bene for anyone whose car or motorcycle gets stolen: this guy probably got $3000 from the insurance company..now the cars’ worth 100 times that amount. I’ve seen stolen motorcycles turn up at swap meets and get taken home by the rightful owners…and sometimes not, to the dismay of the owner who took chickenfeed from the insurance company.

  3. I don’t think they should have given that uncle’s estate that 1968 GT500.. The man that bought the car new should have been paid the today’s price’s. If his uncle hadn’t stolen it he would probably still have it. Worth$100,000.00 . not like 3 or 4 thousand dollar’s. Big difference.
    Just saying

  4. The nephew should be charged with receiving stolen property. I’m not a mustang enthusiast, but only a complete dumb bell, or a crook by proxy could be in possession of this car and claim/not know the nuances of one year of the model verses another. My money goes with this fool inheriting his scumbag uncle’s blood. Book Em Dan-O!

  5. I bet if someone informed the insurance company they might see big $ signs and claim the car – even if it get auctioned …

  6. I believe that the rightful owner should be the insurance company, and that the claimant should be given the option of purchase upon re-payment of the claim money re-paid. WHY O WHY are they rewarding a car thief?????

  7. When the original owner is paid for the car…then they no longer have any claim on the car…they could have gone out and replaced the car but they had a choice and chose not to replace it with the same car…you can always go out and buy another car at that time…you cannot be indemnified twice for the same loss. If insurance company cannot be located…and they were paid…then the old owner cannot get the car because it is unjust enrichment. The uncle paid for the car…why should the uncle lose and why would the estate suffer the loss? If insurance company can be located, then the nephew would at least be able to negotiate with the insurance company. what is the right thing to do…certainly the new owner not knowing that the car was stolen when purchased should not suffer the loss. what if the uncle restored the car and put gobs of money in the car? The old owner then would benefit from all the years of improvement and appreciation. I sold my IBM stock at the wrong time, does that mean I am entitled to go back and claim the appreciation. I sold my Ferrari 13 years ago…mistake but I certainly cannot claim the appreciation. Backward mistakes and claims are nonsense.

  8. If you have a car with the VIN removed, you might ask a few questions. The original owner should have had first right to buy it back for the amount he got from the insurance company.

  9. If the 68 mustang did show that Robert Lanyon did originally own the car then he should of gotten the car back. The insurance company would probably get their $3,000 back and the Mustang given back to the proper owner. The $3,000 should of been paid not by Robert, but by the uncles estate. What happened to the law today??? Where if someone commits a crime no matter how long ago they should be held responsible. Now mind you the deceased uncle can’t answer for his crimes but his estate should pay the insurance company back and if there is no money in the estate then Robert should of been given the choice to either pay the $3,000 back to the insurance company & given back his Mustang or let the current owner keep said Mustang. No matter what Robert should of been given a choice by the judge… So sad this man Robert, didn’t get justice at ALL!!! They should do to car thieves what they used to do to horse thieves, HANG THEM!!! A lil brutal to some, but I guarantee you this people would stop committing GTA if we had that law or at best it’d slow down big time. God bless America

  10. Had Langdon invested the $3,000 he received in 1970 in the S&P 500, he might have averaged an annual return of close to 10%. If so, 47 years later, his original $3,000 would be worth $384,000 today.

  11. Common sense says charge the kid with possession of stolen property.give the car back to the right full owner and his responsibility is to pay the money he got from insurance back with interest case closed

  12. If anyone knows of a stolen Black and Gold Hertz 66 Shelby I may have run across this car in NC.
    I noticed one that looked original and not a remake, it didn’t have a Shelby Tag and Although it was a fastback with the Quarter windows and a 289 (three 2 barrels)- it was registered with a vin from a 6 cyl. 66 coupe.
    Adam W.

  13. Yes the insurance company paid the value at the time !!! But the original owner could have kept the car (had it not been stolen) until now !! The rightfull judgement is when the car is eventually sold ,,the insurance company should be PAID BACK the amount paid ,,plus inflation interest, the balance should the go to the original owner….. end of story.

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