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1966 Ford Mustang - The Empty Nester
Brad Beal Is Trading Bedrooms For Garages
"It's an affliction. I've got Mustangs stashed in garages all over. I can't help it," said Brad with a wry smile. "It's the old second-childhood story. When I was in high school I couldn't afford any of this stuff."
Brad graduated in 1971. In the last six years, his two sons have graduated from college and left home. Looking at Brad on the street, one may not guess he'd just picked up a 289 engine balancer for $15, in case he needed it later, or that after working at the Nevada Credit Union all day, he works on Mustangs at night and on weekends.
Eleven cars populate the family stable today, and that's not counting the late-model. We didn't know Mrs. Beal drives a '98 Mustang convertible until we noticed an extra set of modern wheels in one of the storage buildings.
Brad met us coming from work on Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas in his '66 beater. "This is the least car in my collection," Beal chuckled as we shook hands. A Mustang Monthly subscriber since he got in the hobby, Brad explained his son recently gave the '66 back to him and he'd cleaned it up to drive.
I hopped in the passenger seat, and we sailed away into 21st Century traffic, trying to understand our shared affliction with Mustangs. Here we were in a car close to 40 years old, so I posed the question: Why shouldn't we both be happy in that Lexus sedan next to us?
"I don't think I can fix it if it breaks," Brad said. "At least I have a shot at fixing an older Mustang."
We drove to Brad's home, where he has six cars stored. He flipped open the glovebox to retrieve the remote that opens the gate to his affluent neighborhood. A few minutes later, a second click opened a garage door, revealing a stunning red '66 convertible beside a '30 Model A. The third slot was occupied by a white '57 Thunderbird. A refrigerator with soft drinks and bottled water was evidence of many hours spent here.
The Model A roadster didn't fit the profile. Brad explained the one-acre lot for the new home he was building was, by accident, " '30 Ford Avenue." As a result, he felt compelled to buy a '30 Ford. The new house will be built with a three-car garage for "everyday" cars. A garage out back will house six Mustangs with space to work on them.
"Don't need a big house," Brad proclaimed. "Need a smaller house, more garages." Imagine Mustang collectors the whole country over in the same process of trading bedrooms for garages and SUVs for Mustangs!
The bulk of Brad's Mustangs was housed where storage space is cheaper, in Boulder City, a 15-mile trip in the '66 coupe. As we drove, Brad reminisced. In high school, Mustangs were all the rage, but he had no money. A tinge of adolescent angst came through when Brad said, "I wanted one for years and years."
The first buy was a '70 fastback that Brad restored and gave to his son when he graduated from high school.
"What we really wanted was a '70 convertible," said Brad. "We finally did find one, which we still own. Then we decided we wanted a '68 fastback. We found one of those, too. Then a gal came along with a Mach 1. We made a low offer, and she surprised us."
Brad told his philosophy on restoring: "Some people like 'em customized, some don't, some like perfect. Me, I just want something that looks nice and runs good. If it's not fun, why do it?"