Tony Murphy and his Mustang. Picture: Bev Lacey
Tony Murphy and his Mustang. Picture: Bev Lacey

Toowoomba man’s link to car racing legacy

THE release of Hollywood film Ford vs Ferrari was hotly anticipated by many, but none more so than Toowoomba car enthusiast Tony Murphy.

Mr Murphy was only young when he first came across the film's protagonist, legendary American race car driver Carroll Shelby, who was splashed across the pages of the car magazines he would read.

"I have six brothers and we were all interested in cars," Tony said.

"It was back in the 60s, when he was racing the Cobras - there wasn't much news about it in Australia, but we'd see him in the American magazines we would buy."

Mr Murphy said it didn't take long for him to become a fan. He continued to track the American's move from racing into the design and production of some of the world's most sought after cars, one of which being the Shelby Mustang.

The first edition of the car was so rare in the 80s that there was thought to be fewer than a dozen in Australia, but, as luck would have it, Mr Murphy stumbled across one unexpectedly.

"I owned a brand new two-door Falcon Cobra at the time, which they had only made 400 of," Mr Murphy said.

"I ended up swapping it for a 1966 Shelby Mustang which was on a used car lot in Brisbane - I saw it in an ad in The Courier Mail. I knew what it was, a very rare car, but no one else did.

"It was $7000 back then and I drove it to Toowoomba that day. I got half way up the range and the transmission went."

Mr Murphy restored the car to working order in the 80s and it still holds a place in his collection today, alongside a Ford Falcon (XC) hard top, 1959 Ford F100 pick-up and a 1966 Ford Country Squire Galaxie wagon.

It is thought to be the only one of its kind in Toowoomba.

"It's been a great car and I think it's a worldwide collectable now," he said.

"It's still in a fairly original condition."


Tony Murphy and his Mustang. Photo Contributed
Tony Murphy and his Mustang. Photo Contributed

This wouldn't be Mr Murphy's only brush with Carroll Shelby and his legacy.

"Later on, in the 90s, I was part of the Shelby American Automobile Club," he said.

"They organised a cruise in the Mexican Riviera in 94, so I signed up for that.

"It turned out Carroll Shelby was the guest speaker and he ended up spending a fair bit of time with everyone."

Mr Murphy said Shelby was just like he had imagined, a friendly man with a "real deep, gravelly Texan accent".

"He said he had been to Australia quite a few times, and he had quite a few New Zealand and Australian friends," he said.

"He was great to talk to, very friendly."

Years have passed and now Mr Murphy has had the chance to see Shelby's tale reprised for the big screen in Ford vs Ferrari, something he said has been done well.

"I was impressed with the film and I actually saw it twice," he said.

"I don't think it was over-Hollywood and it was relatively true to the story. The best part of it is the racing footage, there was no CGI, they are actually on the track for that."

With the film finished and the story told, a piece of Shelby history will always remain here with Mr Murphy in Toowoomba.

Originally published as Toowoomba man’s link to car racing legacy