A story behind every shiny fender at Yard Art car show

By Bethany Knipp

Classic cars and trucks in the 24th-annual Yard Art Classics Car Club show gleamed in City Park on Saturday with shining, exuberant-looking paint and chrome. 

There were 121 vehicles at the park that dated back to Henry Ford’s Model T’s, and many of the show’s classics would be hard to come by these days.

But they might not be as hard to find as Jeff and Vicki Connor’s roadster from the 1980s.

The Connors live in Seneca and came to Manhattan to show their sparkling, olive-colored 1983 Texas Stallion.

Their Stallion is the very first of only 10 vehicles made by Fort Worth, Texas, oil entrepreneur H.W. Herndon before he was murdered in March of 1984 — a killing that is still unsolved but suspected to be a hit by organized crime.

Since the Connors’ car is the first of the 10 Stallions, its serial number is zero.

“Honestly, I found it on an online auction,” Jeff Connor said.

“Was it right next to a chainsaw or something?” his wife asked him.

The car came from a cleanup auction in Minnesota when the couple bought it four years ago, Connor said.

Herndon’s plan had been to make 250 Texas Stallions. It was an arrangement that came after he put down a $100,000 deposit to buy five previously made Red Stallions created by sports car designer Jim Kellison.

Herndon planned to resell four of the five, but the manufacturing company, Silver Classic Coachcraft, was unable to deliver the cars because it was going under.

It was Herndon’s intention to make the custom, handmade Texas Stallions to market to exclusive, high-end customers.

The Texas Stallion in shown in City Park was a reflection of the late Herndon’s spirit because his initials, H.W. H., were marked all over the car.

“He’s on the back, Connors said. “He’s on the valve covers. His initials are painted on the bottom side of the body underneath the fuel tank.

“There’s probably 10 different places on this car that’s got H.W.H. on it.”

Herndon’s love for Texas A&M also is inscribed. Underneath his initials on the valve covers is a more subtle “Gig ‘em, Aggies.”

Connor explained the school’s slogan: “Their big rivalry was with the hornfrogs of TCU (Texas Christian University) and when you go froggin’ you have a little spear and you gig ‘em,” he said.

The Connors’ car was built for Herndon but never driven by him. The first person to purchase the Texas Stallion after Herndon’s death bought it with 9 miles on the odometer.

Now, it has about 11,000 miles on it, Connor said. He said he uses airplane fuel for it and only drives it within 30 miles of their Seneca home.

“It likes to drink,” he said. “The right pedal is too easy to push.”

And what’s it worth?

“I’d like to think it’s a six-figure car but probably not,” Connor said. He said the reason it’s not worth more is that since only10 Stallions were made, the model could be too rare for car collectors.

“We go to car shows and nobody’s even heard of it,” he said.

Yard Art club president Don Robertson said in general, the average worth of well-kept classic cars is about $30,000 to $50,000.

He said there’s a rule of thumb for that calculation.

“Take the cost of the car when it was first sold and multiply it by 10 now,” he said.

Families, pets and car enthusiasts seemed to enjoy Saturday’s car show, which had the good fortune of being held in beautiful weather.

The show featured oldies music over the park’s loudspeakers to match the eras from which most of the event’s cars were made.

“It’s like a stepping back in history kind of thing, so it’s always fun to go out and see it,” attendee Justin Schroll said.

He said one of his favorite cars was an early ‘60s Corvette.

Toya Carroll also was strolling the rows of classic cars and trucks.

“For me, the older model vehicles, they just look a lot more, I want to say elegant. They’re sophisticated,” she said. “I want a ’72 Mustang if I ever find one.”

Robertson pinpointed the appeal of the classics from the mid-20th century. He said it might have something to do with their features.

“That’s one of the reasons I think people still remember the cars from the ‘50s and ‘60s. They were bright colors, and they had a lot of chrome,” he said.

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