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Old Reliable IV leads Fezell collection of lightweights and other race cars into auction

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Photo courtesy Mecum Auctions.

Don Fezell didn’t build his collection for the fame of it. He didn’t go hog the spotlight at televised collector car auctions. He didn’t build a personal museum for the cars. He didn’t send press releases to the magazines begging for coverage whenever he added another ultra-rare factory lightweight to the set. Instead, he built the collection of race and muscle cars “because I liked them and loved them” and now he’s decided to disperse the majority of the collection at auction.

“It’s just the right time with me being 78 years old and not wanting to leave a mess for my wife and kids,” said Fezell, of DuBois, Pennsylvania. “I’ll continue racing for as long as I can, but it’s time to move on and take care of my family.”

A racer – both on and off dragstrips – since the mid-Fifties, Fezell had a healthy first-hand appreciation for factory-built drag cars of the Sixties after losing to the likes of Grumpy Jenkins. So in 1975 when he started his car collection, he decided to focus on some of the best high-performance machines Detroit built.


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Photos by George Mattar and David Traver Adolphus.

“There are too many cars to list, but believe us when we tell you, we could have spent two weeks with Don,” we wrote in a profile of Fezell in Hemmings Muscle Machines #30. “Inside his expansive building is the poster child for those lifts that hold two cars to save space. Thing is, Don has racks more than 100 feet long and has cars stacked along the two walls.”


Undoubtedly, the most significant of the cars of his headed to auction in January is the 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z11 known as Old Reliable IV. Tuned by Jenkins and driven by four-speed master Dave Stickler, the Impala is one of 57 Z11 lightweights that Chevrolet built and remains largely unrestored, save for a rebuilt engine. Fezell has owned it since 1990 and, like all of his cars, has documented its race and ownership history.

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Photos courtesy Mecum Auctions.

That doesn’t, however, negate the significance of the other cars of Fezell’s headed to auction. Old Reliable IV is one of four Z11s in Fezell’s collection and one of 18 total factory lightweights. He also has three factory Cobra Jet lightweight Mustangs, a couple lightweight Mopars, a Ford Thunderbolt, and a Super Duty Pontiac. And then there’s the muscle cars – a Hemi ‘Cuda, an R-code Fairlane 500, and a Camaro RS/SS convertible among them.

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Photos courtesy Mecum Auctions.

In total, Fezell will offer 42 cars from his collection. He’s already sold 20 over the last 18 months, he said, and will retain 10 personal cars – cars he either bought new or raced personally – as well as the six cars he still has under restoration. “Those cars I would like to see sold locally,” he said. In addition, he’ll offer a tractor trailer load of NOS and stock parts for muscle and race cars. While all will have reserves “it’s not my intention to bring them home,” Fezell said.

The collection will headline Mecum’s Kissimmee auction, scheduled for January 6 to 15. For more information, visit