Paradise Ford / Bill Watkins Ford

Updated 1/1/2014 with contributions from Bill Watkins

Chase Morsey opened Paradise Ford in 1964. Morsey was a former Ford advertising executive. He worked on a variety of Ford projects like the Thunderbird, Lincoln and Mustang programs. Chase Morsey has a great book about his experiences. It is called "The Man who saved the V-8". Mr. Morsey was also a personal friend of Ronald Reagan and often played golf with the former president. The dealership was located on the corner of Scottsdale Blvd and Camelback Road in Scottsdale, Arizona.

This rare 1965 Shelby advertisement appeared in the Arizona Republic in September of 1965.

The newly remodeled Paradise Ford is shown in this newspaper advertisement. Paradise sold a total of 77 Shelbys.

Nick's car is # 1690 and it came from Paradise Ford. It now resides in the midwest.

You will not find items like this unless you contact the Shelby American Automobile Club Registrar. He holds a lot of treasures.

By the end of 1967, the dealership was sold to Bill Watkins. Watkin's sold new Shelbys during the 1968 and 1969 model years.

This ad from February of 1968 shows a 1967 GT350 for sale. I believe this is the first, new Shelby sold by Watkins. It's blue with an automatic transmission. Interestingly, the character in the upper left corner is "Little Profit". The small, cartoon genie appears nationwide in the late 1960s. You may also spot the unique building, also shown in the older Paradise Ford advertisements.

This could possibly be one of the best full page advertisements in my collection. Some of the highlights include high performance parts. Jere Kilpatrick, Shelby's personal mechanic and former Shelby American production supervisor, worked at the dealership. A Cobra roadster is for sale for only $7500. Maybe you prefer a GT40? It's listed as a Lemans winner. Watkins told me he bought and sold three GT40s. One customer bought two of the cars! I count at least seven other Shelbys in the ad! Watkin's also sold many used Shelbys and cars traded from other dealerships.

When this vintage photo showed up on eBay, I contacted the seller who shared it with the website. The lime green, convertible has been identified as #480. The 1968 Shelby Registrar has some unique skills. How cool is that?

Judging from the pictures in the collection they were taken in the fall or spring of 1969. A visit from Ford's Drag Team was a special event.

The house was packed for this lecture. Roy Molen is credited as the photographer of these great pictures.

# 1168 is an original Bill Watkin's car.

The nice thing about the Bill Watkin's advertisements is they include a lot of detail. The dealership sold 88 new cars during their two year run with Shelby.

....and if you have too much time on your hands, you can actually identify the individual cars.

This is # 1405. It not only looks like a bar of solid gold, it appears in the original ad above.

John's car is # 1699. The car was originally white. The GT350 is now painted orange!

A yellow convertible is a rare sight. But, you will only find a handful with saddle interiors. This one is # 3878.

I found this one buried in the Coralsnake files. # 3994 is Highland Green convertible.

Dianne sent along a picture of # 1550. The Watkins car sports a white interior and looks sharp.

This March 1969 print ad is still trying to unload a few left over 1968s. The 1969s were already on the lot by now. Watkin's sold 50 Shelbys during 1968 and 37 cars during the 1969 model year.

Today the site of the dealership is a shopping center and condos.

I would like to thank Mr. Watkins for his service to our country and his contributions to this article. If you have anything related to Bill Watkins Ford, please drop me an email. Car pictures, stories and memorabilia are always welcome.

This license plate frame is from Paradise Ford circa 1967