The second week into my Junior year at high school, my father moved us from Minneapolis to a small farm town just north of the Iowa border. I had immediately sold my rust-laden 66 Mustang right after the move.
Needing a vehicle to escape from reality, I started bicycling through the small farm town. I arrived at the used car lot of the only car dealership. They carried a mixture of new cars, farm trucks and assorted hay wagons. On that crisp fall day, I spied a rough looking, red 1967 Mustang Fastback sitting in the very back corner of the lot. It looked as if it was forgotten in time, abandoned, traded-in on something that would actually be useful on a dairy farm. The year was 1975. I immediately found the salesman/owner/mechanic and paid the outrageous price of $300 I had saved from hand-washing dishes at the local restaurant.
The faded red pony was a 289 two barrel, with a three speed manual on the floor, small crumples on both ends, and was missing the Mustang logo on the front grill. The interior was black and the gas gauge never worked. I ran out of gas multiple times cruising the small town at night, which is what we did at 24 cents a gallon. The town had one very large police officer named Rodney, that had mercy on me and would push the Mustang with his big bumpered cruiser to the small gas station where he would unlock the station, turn on the pump, and help me fill up to get back on the streets. Once in the dead of winter, at 2 am while driving back from another small farm town, I ran out of gas and had to walk a half mile in -20 temps to wake up a farmer for gas.
I had cut the original two-into-one stock exhaust and made it throaty sounding with dual Thrush mufflers. I also installed a Hurst T handle and boot to the manual shifter. One of the motor mounts was permanently broke, and the engine always lifted and banged when I got on it. Seventeen was a good age to have a Fastback. I raced it five times on a straight stretch of road south of town and the quarter mile ended at a wayside rest that young spectators could sit and watch the American Graffiti finish. It was also one mile from the Minnesota/Iowa border, in case we needed to make a run for it.
Oh, just a side-bar, the ’67 Mustang tires had the exact width to fit on the railroad tracks that ran through town. After letting out a little air pressure in each tire, I could put it on the rails in first gear, let out the clutch, jump out and sit on the hood while it chugged down the tracks. (Not recommended anyone follow my example!)
Keeping with the family tradition of selling everything that meant something to us, the
Mustang was sold in 1975 to a local farmer for the same amount I paid for it, $300. It was replaced eventually with a 1967 six-cylinder baby blue Camaro.
Today, Forty-five years later I started to reminisce for that car. I wondered whether I could find the red Mustang after all this time and buy it back so I could have a piece of history that would plug one of the childhood voids.
I’ve always envied the people who still have their high school cars and restored them back to the days of “muscle cars are just what we drove!” condition.
After some prompting from a friend who restores old Corvettes, and actually had one in the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, I found my former high school’s Facebook page. I made a post asking for any information on the where abouts of the red Mustang Fastback. I left my cell phone, email, address and a picture of a red ’67 that was restored on the Facebook post. I closed my laptop, said a prayer, and went to work.
Thinking this was a total long shot, and not really expecting to find it 45 years later, the cell phone rang two minutes later. The caller said, “I’m the guy who bought the car from you in 1975. Where you tall, skinny and had long curly dark hair?”
My heart leaped as I drove down the road. I had to pull over before I crossed the center line. “Yes I was that guy!”
He went on to tell me the car was taken to his dairy farm, and he had made an arrangement with a young, local farm hand that the Mustang was payment for bailing hay all summer. Story has it, the farm hand took the car out before working it off, and crashed it on a Friday night binge. The car was totaled and hauled off to the local salvage yard, never to be seen again. Larry, who bought it from me said he tried to hunt it down for the same reasons, it’s a 67 Mustang Fastback! But by then they had crushed it and probably ended up recycled into a hay baler.
I mourned the demise of the old car that beat a 283 Malibu, 351 Mustang, 425 Pontiac land yacht, and hopped-up Maverick. That was a gross inequity and I was mad at the young man who demolished my old car! It was not perfect, or restored by today’s standards, but to a seventeen year old man/child it was rough and perfect in every way. I felt the void more than ever.
But all was not lost! Larry told me he had torn down an old, dilapidated machine shed and found the Mustang’s original rear valance with my original license plate still attached to it. He never switched license plates and said he would be more than happy to ship it to my Montana address.
There is the answer. I will not get the car back. It is gone forever, which is almost better than knowing its still out there and never to be found. What I did get back is that which date-stamped the year and place of ownership of my favorite car from 45 years ago. The valance and license plate are mounted on old barn wood and hanging in my garage. Every time I pull my not-so-1967 Mustang in and out of the garage it is there in full view. The one that got away has been returned, even if only partially.
Thanks for reading and loving the story! Yes, I wish it would of turned out differently, but it's great to have a piece of that history mounted in the garage! Cheers! Robert
What a great story. I have tried to find my first car a 1957 Chevy 4 door 210 model as well. I like a fool sold it some 15 years ago because I had moved from central Nebraska to Minnesota and had no place for it. The shop I sold it to in turn sold it the a guy that collected 1955-1957 Chevys but they don't know his name or where the guy lived. All I know is western Nebraska.
I had a '71 VW convertible that I bought new off the showroom floor. It was totaled on new years eve in '73 and I know that because i was in it at the time. About eight years ago I did the next best thing to finding it. I restored a 71 that looks just like it in every detail. I like to joke that "it is exactly like the one I had when I was 18. The only difference being this one doesn't have an 18 year old girl in the right front seat." My current wife says that I can do that if I want, but the only posessions I will have are the car and the girl. I don't think she is joking...
Glad you finally found out what happened to your Mustang. I wondered what happened to my '67 Camaro for 40 years. I had bought mine used in '71 as a HS Junior. I sold it 5 years later, in '76. And then I tracked it down! The latest owner sold it back to me this year. Yep - it's back in my garage. The car my wife of 43 years hopped in and joined me on our first date! We're having a blast re-living our youthful years in this sweet restored '67.
Great story! Glad you got back a bit of your history.
My first car was a '68 Mercury Cougar, 302 4bb. I occasionally see one, the same year, at car shows today. Brings back memories, but I never had the urge to hunt it down. After two V8 Mercs, I gravitated to 2 seater, 4 cyl sports cars. No desire to hunt them down either.
Great story! I can relate - I had a 1967 notchback that I miss dearly to this day. Looking at your pic, we could have been brothers from another mother - wish I had one to post from that era to compare!