My dreams came true

It was the early Spring of 2000, just another Saturday morning errand. But as I passed one of the better-known auto repair businesses in town I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Sitting in the lot was an early '60's Mustang. I mused that the owner must need some major engine work, as that is what the business is known for. But, as I wasn't in the market for an early Mustang, I kept on driving and didn’t give it another thought.

Two weeks later I passed the same business and noticed the Mustang hadn’t moved an inch. I also noticed the small sign in the window “consignment sales”. That got my interest. I decided to call the shop and ask about it, even though I wasn't in the market.

As it turned out, the car was for sale on consignment, an original 1965 Mustang Convertible. The asking price was a lot more than I wanted to pay, but from the way the conversation was going, I was pretty sure that I’d be invited over to see the car in person and to make an offer. As fate would have it, I did get invited to take a closer look,  even though I wasn't really in the market.

When I arrived, I found it to be in basically good shape, although the interior seating was forty years worn, and the dashboard was cracked beyond repair. I immediately began convincing myself that these repairs were cosmetic, that repairing them would be cheap and that I was very capable of fixing them. Even though I wasn't in the market, I took it for a spin around the block. 

Do you know the sounds a fishing reel makes when a fish bites? That "zzzzz-zzzzzzzzz-zzzz" sound, when the line gets dragged out, the pole bent over to extreme? I'm pretty sure that's all that could be heard when I left on my test drive. I never heard that. Did you hear that?

I guess it handled as well as any 1965-era car ever could, but in my hands it seemed to grip the road more like a race car than an old car. "Good thing I'm not in the market", I thought. "But someone's going to get themselves a really nice car."  

Test drive done, I arrived back at the shop. I couldn’t find a reason to avoid making an offer. Even though I wasn't in the market, I asked about the price. To his credit, and fairness to all parties, the dealer told me what had been offered, refused and what the owner had defined as a minimum offer. As both numbers were well within my range, I made the minimum offer minus $500 for a new battery and tires – both in obvious need. Fifteen minutes later, I signed the check and was handed the keys. I was right. I wasn't in the market...anymore.

The fifteen mile drive home was an real adventure. One that I do not want to repeat. Less than three blocks away, the engine temperature started to climb . Half way home, it was just below over-heating and with traffic crawling along I was denied any opportunity to blow some air around the engine. 

Pulling into the driveway was like the final act of a dying classic. The car gave me one huge final gasp, then died in front of the garage door. As I was wishing that I had never even seen this car, the radiator gave up its last ounce of control, blowing coolant (or what was said to be coolant) all over the engine compartment, the driveway and anything within 10 feet. With steam escaping like some old locomotive, I looked up to see the faces of my neighbors in the rear view mirror. I wondered what they were thinking. Whatever it was, I was positive it wasn't, "Nice car!"

Only after everyone had left and the car had cooled down sufficiently did I attempt to open the radiator. That's when reality kicked in. It was packed with seeds, berries, small twigs and leaves of unknown origin. So, the rest of my first day of ownership was spent flushing the cooling system, replacing all the hoses, and taking the radiator to a local shop to be re-cored and sealed.

Two days later, and with a freshly rebuilt radiator sporting a new coat of paint, I felt that most elements of the universe were back in balance. I was reconnected with my youth and engaged in a long lost love-affair with a car I had always wanted to own, but, up to this point, couldn't. I thought about how much enjoyment I would have bringing one of these wonderful vehicles back to life. Little did I know that this would not be the only "I told me so" project that I encountered with my new classic. But those are stories for another time.

Remember, Preserving Automotive History...One Car At a Time® is not just a slogan. It's what we do.