In 1966 my father went to the new location of Galpin Ford in San Fernando Valley to trade in his 3 year old Impala so he could purchased a brand new Signal Flare Red Mustang equipped with V8, Bucket seats, AC and radio. My father was a bit of a show-off and had to have a new car every three years. After taking delivery of the car he decided to take the family to Las Vegas for a trail run. With two small boys in the back seat and my mom up front, we headed out for a 4 hour trip, which took 8 hours since the car overheated its first day. Not a fun beginning, but still for reasons still unknown, my dad never got rid of the car and kept it till he couldn't drive anymore. That's when it was passed down to me.
My mom never liked how Ford did the body work, so over the years she rearranged it on polls, other cars and walls. The car was left out so most of the paint had turn to a light coat of rust. The interior headliner had been removed many years before and only the back seat looked ok. But it still ran. So I towed the car back to San Diego, but it looked like it should of gone straight to the scrapyard. For over 17 years the car just sat in a dilapidated shape, only to be started once in awhile just in case it needed to be moved.
My parents had both passed away years earlier, but one day I got the urge to fix the old horse up. I owned a transmission shop in San Diego, and being in the automotive business, I thought I would do a basic clean up, cheap paint job and get rid of it. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view, I was unable to do a basic cheap job. First the engine came out, and was sent out to Ed Hale, a famous engine re-builder in San Diego who installed 302 heads with no smog tubes and original cast 4 bbl manifold. San Diego Carb fixed me up with a Motor-craft 4bbl carb and my shop, Summit Transmissions did the transmission including rebuilding the original IT valve body. Meanwhile everything was removed from the vehicle and sent to the body shop for complete repainting. All new parts were ordered, including chrome, interior and engine parts. What could be salvage was redone to look like new. All totaled, it took about a year to do, and not including my labor we spent around $19,000.
With the vehicle almost complete, I contacted Galpin Ford to see if they had any info on it. I told them the story and also told them that my brother and sister did not know I've been restoring the family car. Excited about the story and that the car was coming home after 40 years, they asked if I could do the unveiling at their dealership. They had a restaurant next door, so inviting my family to join my wife and I for a Christmas lunch was a perfect cover story. As we were eating lunch, one of the employees came in and asked if my family would pose for a picture in front of the dealers giant Christmas tree? My wife and I had arrived earlier that morning and park the car next to tree where we then put a car cover over it. As we stood posing for our picture, I step out to address my family and some friends who had joined us. Looking straight at them I announced I had lied to them. When asked a month earlier about the condition of the old family Mustang, I told them it was just rusting away. With a look of bewilderment on their faces, the car cover was thrown off to unveil a completely restored 1966 Mustang looking like the day it was purchased. I watched as my brother and sister went back in time to when the car was new, and my niece also remembering the beat up car she was driven around in.
It was a fun day, and soon after the story was covered by newspapers, Old Car and Mustang Monthly. Eventually we sold the car, being too afraid to take it out, except to shows. A young couple purchased it several years back and love it. They've won shows with it and I know it's in a good home. But a young boy of 12 years old grew up with a love of cars and one day decided to honor his parents by bringing the old family horse back to life.