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09/25/2005 PONIES AT THE PETERSEN

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 Thu, Oct 20, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

MUSTANGS AT THE MUSEUM By BRIAN KENNEDY You go to a Mustang show to see Mustangs, right? Well, over sixty showed up and parked smartly on the roof of the Petersen Museum as the Mustang Owners Club of California presented its 26th annual West Coast Meet on Sunday, September 25. Held in this venue overlooking the mid-Wilshire cityscape for the past eleven years, the show attracted a range of Ford products not limited to the original ponycar, so blue-oval fans of different interests could enjoy the day just as well as Mustang lovers.

How about this special treat - a pair of rare NASCAR-linked Mercury models presented by Richard and Katrina Fleener? One was a 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler Cale Yarborough Special with a 428 Cobra Jet Ram Air engine and only 53,000 original miles, the other a 1969 Cyclone Spoiler II, the Dan Gurney Special. Each had been manufactured in response to sanctioning body demands that models designed for the track be available to the average Joe on the street. Remember that "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" thing? It actually used to mean something, and these cars prove it. Sporting burgundy-painted accents and stripes, the Yarborough car had been restored some time over the past several years before the Fleeners acquired it from Iowa this year. To most eyes, it would look pretty sharp, but Richard indicated that he's planning a full-scale professional restoration sometime in the near future. First, he and Katrina want to drive their his-and-hers NASCAR-inspired muscle cars for a while.

The Gurney car looked smart, and it has been nominated as Muscle Machine of the Year for 2005 by Hemmings Muscle Machines magazine. It's the only heater delete model of its type. The car is unrestored, showing the patina of age including some slight cracks in the bodywork where the factory installed the longer nosepiece that gave the car its aerodynamic advantage on the superspeedways. Fleener pointed out its flaws with pride, and said that he had no intention of putting the car into resto anytime soon. Its originality is just too precious. It has a 351-4V engine and 93,000 miles, and arrived in California from Tennessee last year. Just to keep the mix interesting, there were other blue-oval connected machines shining in the early fall sun as well, including a spiffy 1970 Torino and a beautiful 1968 Cougar wearing its original Calypso Coral special order paint. Finally, a 1963 Falcon Sprint convertible with only 34,500 unrestored miles had made its way from Glendale under the care of Gary and Sandra Gaglio.

Ah, but the Mustangs. There were fastbacks and convertibles, but one favorite was the 1964 ½ Indy Pace Car replica coupe of Steve Grant, last seen by LACar.com at a show in Long Beach a couple of years ago. The car looks as clean as new, and being 1 of only 190, certainly escapes the "they made so many of them" curse of many early Mustangs. Grant keeps an informal registry of cars like his, and he believes that about 58 of them still exist. He actually drove it up, rather than trailering it, from Huntington Beach, and he's committed to keeping it on the road, at least for occasional use. Other Mustangs ran the gamut from an early GT K-engined fastback to a 1970 Mach 1 with a 351CI engine. There were, alas, no Mustang II's on display, though they are certainly welcomed as part of the group, according to Club President Craig Cunningham, as are the newer models, several of which were there.

The cars were judged in three groups, according to Cunningham. Personalized and Factory Stock Classes were judged by participants, with cars going head to head for trophies. Concours Classes saw entries judged by according to the MCA (Mustang Club of America) rules, with each car competing against the standard of perfection which that sets forth. In addition to the car show, the event featured a raffle and displays by vendors. Participants and spectators could grab a hot dog and wander between the rows of vehicles, wishing that each were theirs, or that the old days would come around again and they could walk into a Ford dealer and plunk down a few grand for a piece of classically beautiful iron.

The Mustang Owners Club of California has been around since 1978, and has 350 members. Regular meetings happen the third Wednesday of each month at Baker's Square restaurant in Granada Hills, starting at 7pm. Those who plan to have dinner should show up sharp at 6:30. For further information, contact the club at 818-785-1180 or go to Mustang Owners of California. For more information on the Petersen Museum, go to www.petersen.org.

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