Michael M 1966 Ford Mustang 2dr Convertible

Rita Lives On!

She is a driver today, just like when I first met her in about 1991 at my parents’ home in Central California. She had a history, how true the history is, well you never really know. The story goes that she was bought for someone’s son in the late 60s with still low mileage on her…that the son had an accident where drugs were involved, the car was parked, but the son left home and never returned. The car sat in a garage until my dad bought her for my mom as a weekend car, did I tell you that she is topless…a convertible bad girl…well as bad as you can be sporting a 200 CID straight 6 with auto anyway. My mom made use of the car for those spring and summer days in California when you just want to experience the air and the sun and feel alive. In the mid 90s my dad decided to clean up the old girl just a bit…the car not my mom. The previous owner had some body work done to correct the accident damage and there were a few ripples in the steel and a really bad cheap paint job. She still was dressed in the original Tahoe Turquoise color she rolled from the show room with and still had the original seat covers and carpet although there was some wear. Shortly after dad started work on the car, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. The work on the car stopped and she was relegated to the garage in pieces for a few years and then to a barn on the family property where she sat for nearly ten years. When I drove up to get the old girl she was in fairly rough shape. Sitting that long in a barn with a dirt floor partially disassembled didn’t do her any favors. We used a tractor to pull her loose from the dirt the gophers had packed under the car up to the floor pans and axle. Driving down the freeway with her on the trailer the folks behind me were subjected to a small dust storm as she gave up the dirt, dust and debris that had found homes in all the nooks and crannies of the body and interior. Over several years I stripped her down to nothing, had the body soda blasted and repaired and a fresh coat of paint in the original color (2 stage acrylic this time) was shot back on the prepared skin. The transformation was awesome, even without the chrome and stainless the old girl was looking pretty fresh. She had a pretty rough life for a car with just over 17,00 original miles. When done, nearly every corner of the car had been touched, fixed, refurbed or replaced. Lots of money, lots of time and a garage full of parts as I worked to make sure everything was as good as I could make it. My daughter decided the she needed a name and called her Rita, my mom’s nickname. She doesn’t see much action, but she still likes to drive and occasionally visit a car show…not to compete, just to hang with the other old girls from the era.

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