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...
That's funny and truthful for both us. 45 + 18 years is closer to the truth. That's great you have the same basic car from bygone days. I would like to as well, but am having a hard time justifying what it costs for a 1967 Mustang Fastback these days! Cheers!
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.
Cool story...no surprise to the ending as I imagine that many of us would probably be disappointed with the findings. At least you have a slice of that old memory.
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!
Inspiring story! I wish you could have found it in total but what a treasured part to have for sure. I recently have begun the search for my first car, a 1966 Mustang. We don’t keep sales records in Florida that far back on-line and my father cannot remember who he sold it to while I was away at college. The kid who did buy it blew the engine so I hope she got rolled into storage somewhere and is just waiting after 30+ years for me to find her.
I had one car, a 1967 442, that after I sold it was reunited to the original owner. It was pretty easy for them to know it was their car, as their name was on the protecto plate, still in the glove box.
Even in the early 80’s, the car was rust free, kind of unusual for Minnesota. And although a bit dull, no bondo and original paint. I imagine many times cars get missed as they may be repainted a different color.
I also keep my eye out for some of the cars I owned in the past. Most likely faded into the wrecking yard. The one I did find was auctioned at Barrett Jackson a couple years ago. Restored, including paint back to original color.
Only a few of the cars I owned would be easily identified as ‘the car’. Most had common options, and common colors. I always wonder if ones like the 1968 SS RS Camaro I owned, still exist. The original 396 375 horse was long gone when I owned it. But it still retained the 4 speed, the factory gauges and tach. The 4.56 rear end might help - I’m sure that was very rare. But probably would be something most would replace rather quickly. The fun of that option wore out quickly.
Another one would have been my 1970 Z/28. Numbers matching, RS, 4.10 rear, with a M22. The M22 was what segregated that one out - lots of people claimed they had an M22, when in fact they had an M21.
Nice story - kind of like the hunt ended quickly and you got some closure. Many may look for years and find nothing.
Very true, and thanks. Sounds like you've had some excellent cars! I've had a lot of people reach out from Minnesota on this blog, and Vintage Mustang Forum's. Grew up on Lake Minnetonka. Thanks again!
Sorry to hear the car was gone, but you've got a great story and a piece of history in return! Well worth the inquiry about its whereabouts after all these years....
Back in 1976 I owned a 73 Cuda 340 that I bought off a friend who bought it new. I sold it in the early 80s. About ten years ago I was at a show with my daughter and saw a black Cuda with white stripe. I walked over and was telling my daughter I had one exactly like it and the owner said this was yours-I bought it from you. Then described where I lived and I had an AMX. Wow! Never expected that answer.
My first ride was a ‘78 Ford Fairlane wagon:(
It was blue and wood. Hit a tree in ice and it then sported a burgundy passenger fender. A real beauty:) A lot of good memories with the car but I’d rather find my second ride; a ‘74 Chevy Cheyenne 1/2 ton two wheel drive with three on the tree. I’d slam it and have some other fun. My son is driving a ‘74 Custom Deluxe 4x4.
My first car was a 1962 Mercury Meteor, 221 V8, automatic, 4-door. It ended up in the side of a 1957 Chevy that pulled out in front of me in 1971. Totaled both cars.
My 2nd card is the one that I would like to have back. It was a 1965 Fairlane with a 289 2bbl auto that my Dad bought new, sold to my grandmother in 1966 and given to me when she passed away about the same time the Meteor did.
I added 351 Windsor heads, a big Holley 4bbl and a 4-speed manual to the car. Drove it like i stole it! In 1975, I bought a new Chevy Van, and sold the Fairlane to buy big, wide Cragars and Polyglass GT tires for the van. Thought about tracking it down many times, but never did.
My first car was a 1965 Corvair 4 speed, rusted out and dented front and back, with a 1963 motor stuck in it. My second car was a 1968 El Camino SS396, also with a 4 speed. Dad bought it from a family friend that had ordered it from the factory. When my Corvair finally died (helped along by my various modifications), I bought the El Camino from dad. It was the car I took my California driver's test in (dad thought the Corvair would be too loud). I still have that El Camino today, along with a garage full of parts waiting for the day I can work on it again.