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09/26/04 8TH ANNUAL MUSTANGS AT THE QUEEN MARY

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Oct 11, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Gabriela Moya

8TH ANNUAL MUSTANGS AT THE QUEEN MARY By Brian Kennedy

What do you get when you mix 275 Ford vehicles and special appearances by the Overhaulin' TV "Rustang" the Starsky and Hutch Torino, and Eleanor, all in the shadow of the Queen Mary? A car show to remember. That about describes the 8th Annual Beach Cities Mustang Club Mustangs at the Queen Mary show which took place at Long Beach Harbor on Sunday, September 26. The club, which draws members from ten states and five countries, is more than its name implies, catering to Ford lovers of all sorts. This was evident in the collection of vehicles on display in dozens of classes which covered everything from 1964-65 Mustang coupes to modern SVT Mustangs as well as Mach 1s, Bullitts, and Ford trucks. Heck, a 1949 Woody, a 1979 Pinto, and a couple of tricked out Focus models even showed up.

Of special note to old-car lovers were three vehicles, led off by Steve Grant's 1964 ½ Indy Pace Car replica. This model, a dealer special created in '64 to commemorate the Mustang's pacing of the race at the Brickyard, was limited to about 190 in number, according to Grant's calculations. His particular car was advertised in Hemmings Motor News in 1996. At the time, he had a Mustang Fastback that he showed, but which never quite won top prizes. Intrigued at the thought of owning a special model, and heading out on a business trip, he decided to check out the car, which was in Newport News, Virginia. The original owner had bought it for his son, who had taken off the Pace Car decals and painted it during the process of using it as a daily driver. When Grant got there, he found a typical east coast car, somewhat rusty but with all the parts intact. Checking the vehicle date plate revealed paint code F, a special color called "Pace Car White." He struck a deal, brought the car home, and guided it through a two-year plus restoration. The resto, which is documented with photos, saw the car taken down to its bits. All the sheetmetal that needed to be renewed was replaced with NOS parts, and every detail of reassembly was replicated to mimic what Ford would have done the first time.

Now, over $40,000 dollars later, Grant has a spotless showcar. But he's not a trailering kind of guy, so in the six years since the pony came out of restoration, he's put on over 4000 street miles. The car is still flawless in every respect and a symbol of his commitment to the history of the marque. Another guy who likes to drive his car is Hank Williams. Not the country singer, the race car driver. Hank ordered his 1965 289 directly from the Shelby factory in Venice, though the paperwork, which he will show anyone who asks to see it, was written up through Norman Ford Sales. He even had the original "Retail Buyer Form and Cobra New Car Warranty" close to hand on the day of the show.

Mr. Williams picked the car up at the Shelby showroom at La Brea and Edgewood, and that very day, took it out and set up some cones in a parking lot to check out its driving dynamics, and he has the photos to prove it. He then proceeded to race it all up and down the west coast, competing on tracks like Laguna Seca and the old Riverside Speedway, its home grounds. In the years since delivery, Hank and his Cobra have competed in 309 races, logged over 130,000 miles, and won more trophies than anyone ever with a Cobra, 402 at last count. For this record of achievement, Hank has been called a legend alongside Carroll Shelby. His car was even invited, along with Hank and some of his hundreds of trophies, to open the Carroll Shelby Museum in Las Vegas in 1998. For this event, a special "Hank Williams Commemorative Jacket" was designed, in a numbered limited edition of 100. If you can find one now, expect it to cost you upwards of two grand!

CSX 2227 has also been to England, twice. Today, the car is worth perhaps more than a million dollars, but Hank will never sell. He says that he keeps it and all of its historical memorabilia because, "I want my grandchildren to understand what I've done." Hank is the most likeable guy you'd ever want to meet, and a true credit to the Cobra name and the man who made it famous when he stuffed those big Ford engines in there in the 1960s. A third notable vintage Ford was the GT/CS of Rich and Randi Miller. The California Special, which was a Ford creation of 1968, features dress-up goodies like Shelby-style side scoops and Thunderbird sequential taillights. Miller bought it after wandering in to Bill Corwin Ford in Orange in December of 1967 looking for something powerful enough to haul a boat to the Colorado River. He was convinced to wait for the GT/CS, and he picked it up in March 1968 having only seen pictures of his new ride. After several years of using the car, with its 390ci engine, for twice-monthly trips where he dipped the rear wheels in the river's water as he unloaded his boat, he put it away. The odometer showed 64,000 miles.

Twenty-five years later, his wife woke him up one morning at the start of a vacation from his farm and said, "Today's the day that Ford goes to the paint shop." Off they went, and six months later, out came an amazing restoration which kept as many of the original parts as possible, including the headliner and many interior components. They still drive the car when they're not at the wheel of one of their vintage Ford pickups (a '36 and a '56), and have about 3000 miles on it since its 1997 restoration. For those fans who aren't so keen on the old stuff, there were also some outrageously pimped-out Ford trucks, loads of contemporary Mustangs including a really sharp supercharged 1998 V6 owned by Jose Cardenas, and the whole gamut of the Saleen and Roush tuner world. The club's philosophy stresses fun, according to President Jon Shultz, who said, "You don't even have to own a Mustang, or even a Ford, to be a part of what we do." The huge crowd gathered around the cars and at the Magna-Flow and California Mustang booths would probably attest to that.

If you want to be a part of their scene, you can get in touch with the club at 562 498-BCMC or email them at [email protected].

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