Cars that belonged to famous people at one point are a big collector’s item and it’s a bonus if the car is a classic. Lonnie Shelton, a baseball fanatic and classic car buff, recently picked up a gem by buying Babe Ruth’s Lincoln Continental.
Babe Ruth’s Lincoln Continental would be a great collector car anyhow
Lonnie Shelton, a 61-year-old semi-retiree of Pampa, Texas, a classic car collector and baseball fanatic, managed to recently score a car that would would be the jewel of any collection for either, according to USA Today, as Shelton managed to purchase Babe Ruth’s Lincoln Continental.
The car, a 1948 Continental coupe in Regal Blue, is in near-mint condition, with only 81,000 miles on the clock. Shelton refers to the paint as “Yankee Blue.” Barely any have been put on it since the Babe passed away, as the car has spent much of its life in in the Texas Museum of Automotive History in Dallas.
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As it turns out, Shelton was looking for parts for other cars, when he found a man in Dallas who had parts and also so happened to be the curator.
The Babe loved Lincolns
Eventually, Shelton went to Dallas to buy some parts and learned the mystery man was serious about selling Babe Ruth’s Lincoln Continental, so he bought it. It came with a confidentiality agreement preventing him from naming the sale price or who the curator is. According to the museum’s website, the curator is Chuck Broadway. Lord knows what the car loans financing must have been like.
The car came with paperwork from Claire Ruth, Babe Ruth’s widow, and the Ford Motor Company, which presented Ruth with the car in 1948, not long before he died from cancer. At the time, Ruth was touring the country, giving speeches and appearing at Little League clinics. It’s packed with a lot of hallmarks of a classic from that era; enormous steering wheel, hydraulically-operated windows and doors and a radio that uses vacuum tubes instead of solid-state transistors.
It wasn’t Ruth’s only Lincoln, or Continental, for that matter. According to MotorTrend, then-Yankee Manager Joe McCarthy gave Ruth a 1940 Lincoln-Zephyr Continental convertible in that year. Ruth reportedly gave it to a sportswriter within several years, ostensibly because he famously hated McCarthy. The car was auctioned by RM Auctions in 2006 after undergoing a complete restoration in 2002.
Gearheads in the MLB
Some other baseball legends’ cars have turned up in the news in recent years besides Babe Ruth’s Lincoln Continental. A Ryan Duckett of West Palm Beach, Fla., according to a 2008 Bleacher Report post, was selling a 1925 Hudson Super 6 that Hudson custom-made and presented to the infamous Ty Cobb. In 2008, according to LiveAuctioneers.com, an auction in Oklahoma featured a very rare 1949 Plymouth Special Model Deluxe convertible formerly owned by Yankee great Mickey Mantle.
There are a few gearheads among current MLB players that have some classics. According to an MSN Autos article from this year, pitcher Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies has a 1932 Ford Model B roadster and third baseman Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays has a 1969 Chevy Camaro SS and previously owned a 1967 Camaro RS.
Texas Museum of Automotive History: http://tmah.org/