January 11, 2017

by David Wilson of the Sun Coast Mustang Club, FL / Golden Horseshoe Mustang Association, ONT, CN
with contributions from Craig R., Chris Simon, Vinny Liska, Jim Cowles, Phil Murphy and Robert Dockery!

The combined sales totals of Dockery and Morristown Auto Sales make it the 12th most sucessful dealership for Shelby sales.

Dockery Ford was located 170 Madison Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey. During 1968 the dealership was sold and became Morristown Auto Sales.

Tale of a Ford Dealership in the day!

“This is yore Ole Cousin Brucie on WABC sayin’: “Hickery, Dickery Doc, the mouse ran up the clock …and that means there’s not much time left for Fabulous Deals on new Fords and Mustangs at DOCKERY FORD, in Morristown, New Jersey…the Home of the Af-FORD-able Ford! See Cousin Bob and Cousin Joe and their staff and tell ‘em Cousin Brucie sent ya!"

Cousin Brucie maybe never said it quite that way…then again maybe he did! One thing for sure! Hiring New York radio station WABC and popular D.J. Bruce Morrow to promote sales was one of the most impactful decisions we made, says Bob Dockery. WABC’s huge broadcast footprint down the east coast and inland several hundred miles without a doubt spurred sales at Dockery Ford. Here is the Dockery Ford Story from when Mustang sales hit the first million and how the story came to be.

This summer I ( Dave Wilson) had some work done on my ‘70 Boss 302 at Legendary Motor Car. Peter Klutt is the owner but Chris Simon makes everything happen in the shop. I’ve known Chris and Peter since they were new to the business and I was new to the hobby and that is over 38 years.

Chris told me about restoring two 1965 GT350R’s, numbers R100 and R105 for a SAAC convention a few years back for the Dockery brothers. He said they sponsored the cars racing “in the day”, found them some years later, bought them, had them restored and showed them at SAAC in 2011! I said my 1968 Shelby GT500 was originally sold there. I’d like to interview them for our Suncoast Mustang Club newsletter. Chris doesn’t readily give out customer's email addresses but he thought my cause was noble so he gave me an email address for Bob Dockery. Bob lives in Longboat Key so the Ponies under the Palms Show on November 20th seemed like a possible meeting place. Bob and his wife Susan graciously agreed to meet Kathy and me over lunch.

Here is what Bob related:

Bob and Joe Dockery’s dad was in the car business since just after WWII. He had a Hudson Dealership. Bob remembers just hanging out as a kid, then getting some non paying jobs around the dealership. His first paying job there was at age 18. Bob wanted to sell but dad wouldn’t hear of it. In the summer of 1957, Bob got a job as a salesman at a dealership owned by a friend of his dad.

Bob did pretty well! Just 3 years later, at age 23, Dad helped Bob get a Ford store. Bob brought Joe in when he finished school a bit later. A.S. Kirkpatrick was a small Ford dealership in Morristown from 1900 to 1960. When the two brothers bought it in 1960, it sold 20 cars a month. Bob soon got it up to selling 40 cars a month. It hummed along at that level ‘til the Mustang phenomenon hit. Soon they were at 100 cars a month. They took orders at full list price with $100 down. Bob remembers adding up base and list prices on accessories by hand and writing them in on the order form. The orders went into the Metuchen plant 50 miles away. Three to four weeks later the car, ordered to specifications, would arrive. The waiting list numbered 150 long at any given time in spite of the Metuchen plant pumping out Mustangs at 40/hour.

To build spirit and a following, they started a Mustang Club and organized road rallies. Soon Bob and Joe noticed the Shelby phenomenon.

Along with Dockery, dad also owned Berry Ford in Paramus, New Jersey. Paramus is about 30 miles away from Morristown. But, dad wasn’t much into the muscle cars…only a few Shelby cars were sold there in 1965.

Pictured above is a Berry drag car (courtesy of the internet).

When you are in contact with the SAAC Registrar, he might share some old, school goodies. Like these invoices for 1967 GT500 parts.

Here is Bob Dockery's original business card.

Craig's original literature reveals the salesman's name - Jim De Maio Jr.

Woody sent along a picture of #145. This 1967 is painted Charcoal Gray Metallic.

Jim at Shelby Parts in Green Bay found this 1967 brochure with the Dockery salesman's name on it.

They convinced dad to shift the Shelby franchise to Dockery Ford and Carroll Shelby agreed. In 1966, they sold 40-some Shelbys and in 1967 they sold over 90 Shelbys. They were the largest Shelby dealer IN THE COUNTRY other than Gotham Ford in NYC which was a corporate store and counted all cars sold overseas in their numbers.

1965 Shelby 5R105 courtesy of Legendary Motor Cars

In their heyday selling Shelbys at Dockery Ford, two race team owners approached them to help them get a Shelby GT350R for SCCA Production “B” class, which they did, and for sponsorship. The drivers were two unknowns named Mark Donohue and Marty Krinner. Sponsorship involved the Dockery Ford name on the car, Ford parts as needed for free, Shelby parts at cost, a garage bay at the dealership to work and providing a Ford truck with the Dockery Ford name and a car hauler trailer. The teams were successful and got into the SCCA championship runoff. Bob and Joe went to races and made contacts and learned the race game real fast! Each team fed off the other! They really got into the racing gig!

Bob Dockery and his friend, Marti tweak 5R100.

Things were going well- then disaster struck in threes!

1) Marty Krinner was killed in a race in August of 1967 at Watkins Glen. He was hit by a rookie driver when he stepped out of his Shelby after a tranny blew. Everyone was depressed! The fun was out of racing!

2) To make matters worse, in September of 1967, Mark Donohue announced he was going to jump ship and join Penske Racing.

3) Then at the 1968 dealer model year showing by Ford at Tavern on the Green in NYC, Carroll Shelby took Bob aside. He said Bob had lived up to his bargain by selling a fantastic number of cars…but…Carroll couldn’t hold up to his end of the bargain any more. He had sold the name “COBRA” to Ford. Shelby cars would be built by Ford in the 1968 model year. And worse, all dealers could sell them.

This is Phil's # 212. It sold new at Dockery, just before the dealership changed names.

Bob knew what that meant. Shelby margins were much larger than the skinny margins on Fords and Mustangs. Once Shelby cars were built by Ford they’d soon sell with the same thin margins as the rest of the product line. So, Bob and Joe Dockery sold the dealership on January 30th, 1968.

The two race cars, 1965 GT350Rs serial numbered 5R100 and 5R105, were sold to other racers by their team owners and Bob and Joe lost track of them.

Bob and Joe got a Mercedes Benz Dealership in Paramus N.J. in September of 1968. Bob sold out to his brother Joe in 1985 and came to Florida to the Sarasota area where he owned a Toyota and Mazda dealership from 1989 to 1999. Joe is still in NJ and today owns 13 dealerships under the Prestige Auto Group name.

What happened to GT350Rs 5R100 and 5R105 ?

5R100 was sold to someone in Pennsylvania. A fellow named Tony Conover from Hanover, Pa who restores Mustangs got a line on it. It was literally “a barn find” but had not always been dry…it had gone through a flood. Mr. Conover did the restoration and then showed it at a SAAC convention. He later sold it to a dentist who raced it again. The dentist raced until he had an accident and then put it up for sale in the SAAC magazine Snake Bite. It came to the Dockery Family attention and they bought it and had it restored at Legendary Motor Car in Milton, Ontario.

Then 5R105 became available in 2009 and it was purchased. Less is known about its history. Joe Dockery’s son-in-law Chris Turner today runs his dealerships. Chris did the research seeking out a suitable restoration shop. Legendary Motor Car had a great reputation and the Canadian dollar being lower in value made the restoration more attractively priced. Both cars are now in a family trust and are stored in Ramsey, N.J. but they venture out from time to time when the SAAC convention is in the northeast. They have been shown 4 or 5 times.

To complete the display, they have a 1967 F250 done up just as one of the tow vehicles would have looked in the day. A concours F250, oh my!

Mr. Dockery enjoys the luxury of Ford's Camper Special.

When the Shelby R models were first shown at SAAC, the club newsletter reported:

“Car 5R105, the Mark Donohue driven car scored 900 out of a possible 900! Legendary Motor Company and the Dockery Brothers just raised the bar to the highest level we’ve ever seen on a restoration”! Peter Klutt reported that the Dockery brothers were sticklers on originality. If it came from the factory with a bit of orange peel in the paint so should it be when restored.

This original invoice for one, 1965, GT350 race hood might have gone right on one of these cars. Total price $120.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about running a dealership when customers lined up to get a new Mustang and about the dealer sponsored cars that slipped through the Dockery Brothers fingers, but they got back.

Bob Dockery and Dave pose in front of Dave's 1968 GT500 #69. It is an original Dockery car.

As for me, I learned something new about my car. It was built, ordered and received to stock when the dealership was Dockery Ford in November 1967. It was sold by Morristown Auto Sales, Inc. on February 6, 1968, just days after the Dockery brothers sold. I never could understand in Shelby American Auto Club records what Morristown Auto Sales had to do with Dockery Ford. Bob Dockery gave me a lead on a top Shelby salesman who stayed with the new firm and just may have sold and delivered my car new.

But for now I’m pretty satisfied having met with and talked with a dealer principle from "back in the day!"

Phil found this matchbook cover. It also says 1964 Ford on the otherside of the cover.

Before the Mustang came around, the Galaxie was the race car to have. If you were lucky, you had a Thunderbolt. Both Larsen Ford and Dockery would become top ranked Shelby dealers. Picture from the internet.

When you are done racing, the car gets sold dirt cheap! Ad from Drag news 2/65.

Now for the quiz....

Question: This is Bob Brown's Cobra Jet drag car. The image was found in a vintage magazine article. Can you see what is unusual about the car?

Answer: Dockery Ford was not in Paramus. It was located in Morristown, some 30 miles away! Additionally, Dockery Ford was closed before the introduction of the Cobra Jet Mustangs.

So, what is going on here? Once Dockery Ford became Morristown Auto Sales, the Dockery's started using their name at the Berry Ford location in Paramus. I'm still researching this drag car. There have been no good leads so far.

This is Roger. Roger was 16 years old when his father helped him buy #3277 from Morristown Auto Sales.

It's a long story, but let's just say, a well-known restoration restoration shop that attempted the restoration, couldn't deliver. Roger's GT500 KR was then restored by Tim Lea and it didn't take long to become a national show winner. Roger still has the car today. Photograph taken by Mathew Litwin.

The site of Dockery Ford has been turned into a MINI dealership.

As always, if you have anything related to the dealership, you are encouraged to share!