Occasionally, under very rare circumstances, you run across a true “barn find”. This is a 1968 Mustang GT Fastback that I recently found under a tarp in my parent’s barn. You see, I’ve been out of the house for a few years, in fact, out of the state for many of them. When my parents informed me that they were selling the house I grew up in, and they were building a cabin in the woods somewhere, I figured I should come collect some of my things. I hadn’t been in the barn for at least 5 years by this point, so it was somewhat of a surprise to me to see it 100% organized and clean. Tucked off, in the back corner of the barn, was this forgotten gem.
I grew up a 4H kid, so I spent a lot of time in the barn preparing my flock for show. If there had been a Mustang within miles of that barn, I would have sniffed it out. This one, though, had not been there when I was a rebellious farming youth. It didn’t show up until later. I remember having met this car as a learned and worldly 17 year old. I admired its voluptuous form, its hard served life, and its years on this planet. A 17 year old, no matter how educated, simply cannot fathom something having been built nearly 20 years before their birth.
As a high-schooler, I spent the first semester of my senior year living in Spain, a little town called Murcia, to be precise. It was the number one defining period of my early life, as it was my test separating the “kid world” from that of the “adult world”. I learned who I was, and who I became owes a debt of gratitude to that kid who decided to leave the nest and study abroad. Another thing I learned while I was there was my affinity for cars. My Stepfather’s Father would send me care packages that included his already-been-read Hot Rod, Popular Hot Rodding, MoPar, and Motor Trend magazines. Being that these magazines were the only English language literature I had at my disposal, I read every word several times.
While I was away, my folks heard tell of a Mustang for sale in the depths of the wilds of Georgia. My Mother’s Father, always looking for an excuse to head to the warmth of the south, agreed to pick the car up and trailer it back to Michigan as a way of surprising me when I returned home from Europe. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I saw the patina and gold exterior of this lovely car. Undeterred by years of grime, pitted chrome, and rotted floorboards, I saw the potential in the machine.
Excited to get started wrenching, I immediately began removing panels. Intricately organizing bolts, nuts, and screws became a way of life. Removing the beautiful to get down to the ugly, I began making lists of what the car needed. Either out of disgust, lack of depth, or perhaps funds, my Step-dad suggested we shelve the project until a more seasoned professional could tackle the job. My beloved fastback was extricated from the garage to make room for one of my other projects, and was banished to live in the barn.
Because of this, over the years my brain began developing a tarnished view of the car, thinking the worst of everything. Viewed through my youngster eyes, my adult brain had lengthened the list of “needs” to include full floor pans, firewall sections, rocker panels, door bottoms, fuel tank, trunk perimeter, fenders, and a radiator support at the minimum. Whether I have become more pragmatic with age, or if my time with Hooniverse has taught me to appreciate patina, when I looked upon the car just a few weeks ago, I viewed it with a clarity more closely related to the great opportunity that it provided. With this most recent viewing of the car, I have seen that the rockers are solid, and the floor pans could simply be patched in the front footwells. The only section that gives me any bit of fright is the section under the battery tray where large holes have made themselves present, but even this is repairable.
There are a few plans for the car, as I have a ton of visions of what the future holds for this car. I ask the glorious Hoons to assist me in focusing this mosaic dream into a single plan. Tell me which of the following ideas you prefer, and with luck, time, effort, and money, I might be able to bring one of them to fruition. First, I could repair the worst of the rust, and overhaul the existing mechanical bits (currently running a 1967 302 Hi Po, a 5-speed, and a Ford 9″) to get everything back into running condition, and leave the exterior patina intact. Going with this method, ideally, the car will never see a paint booth again. Secondly, I have always had a vision of replicating a fast and loose version of Frank Bullit’s road machine. This would involve a Ford FE engine, a Highland Green paintjob, and blacked out wheels. Preferably, I could find someone in a black Charger R/T to chase around. Thirdly, I could go completely crazy and build myself a street legal track terror. I’ve had a crazy idea bouncing around in the back of my head for years now, which involves a twin-turbocharged 300ci Ford straight-six, a full bevvy of suspension modifications, and a largely period-correct track ready interior.
At some point, I would like to press this beast into the daily driver rotation, however, with a potential move to yet another state on the horizon, my fastback might have to wait a few more years before I can help it to realize its potential. Maybe I have too many projects as it is…
Bradley C. Brownell is an Editor with Hooniverse.com, but he also contributes to his own site “themostlyporscheblog“. Head over there for more of his work.
[Photos: Hooniverse/Bradley C. Brownell]