Because my own father drove more like a tortoise than a hare, I tend to think of dads everywhere as slowpokes, although I'm sure sons like Michael Andretti and Dale Jarrett harbor no such misconceptions. Neither does Herb Gordon. The Reynoldsburg, Ohio, resident proudly describes his late father, Bob, as a hot-rodder and racer--a man with a taste for speed in whatever he was driving. And he almost always drove Fords, even though, as a used-car dealer, he could have driven pretty much anything he wanted.
So it was that Gordon's father came to own the first two Mustangs in his hometown of Elkins, West Virginia--apparently even before the local Ford dealer had any on the lot. His first was an early hardtop, but when the racier fastback model came along, the senior Gordon soon placed an order for this Vintage Burgundy 2+2, optioning it with the solid-lifter 289 High Performance and the accompanying mandatory (at extra cost) four-speed manual gearbox. He finished off the drivetrain with a 3.50:1 ratio in the 9-inch axle that was exclusive to the Hi-Po.
With the K-code V-8 came its Special Handling Package, including upgraded springs and shocks, a larger antiroll bar, quick-ratio 22:1 manual steering, and 6.95x14 dual-redline nylon tires. Though a bargain in terms of performance, it took a hefty financial commitment to step up to the 271hp Hi-Po, which cost some $442 all by itself, and also required the $188 four-speed. This amounted to an approximate 25 percent increase over the $2,589 base price of a six-cylinder fastback, even before the car's other options, like AM radio, console, styled-steel wheels, and the Rally-Pac were totaled in.
This investment would have given Bob Gordon one of the quicker and flashier cars roaming the streets of Elkins, but apparently not quick or flashy enough--a situation soon remedied by careful shopping in the dealer-option Cobra Kit catalog. In the looks department, Bob opted for the Cobra Engine Dress-Up Kit, comprising finned-aluminum valve covers, a chrome radiator cap, dipstick, master-cylinder cap, oil filler cap, and air-cleaner assembly.
But this shiny breather was soon rendered useless by Bob's second, and more important, addition: the Cobra II 4-V Induction Kit that provided a cast-aluminum intake manifold mounting a pair of 500-cfm carbs topped by individual chromed air cleaners. The $245 carb kit also included a pair of Cobra medallions (as found on the nose of Shelby's AC Cobras), which Bob soon mounted beneath the 289 Hi-Po badges on the front fenders, and which remain there to this day. These particular medallions--and the kit's Carter AFB carburetors--mark this as one of the earliest versions of the Cobra induction kit. Later versions used more familiar Holley carbs and the more common restyled Cobra medallions. So, by now you should be convinced that Herb Gordon's father was, indeed, a true speed demon, a personality trait that unfortunately attracted the attention of his local constabulary--with alarming regularity, in fact. As a car dealer, Bob Gordon couldn't afford to lose his driver's license. So, in what might seem an extreme measure, he parked his nearly new fastback with only 2,847 miles showing on the odometer and never drove it again. Also, because of his dealer status, he never bothered to have it titled.
So, it came to be that a few years back, his son Herb took possession of an untitled '65 Mustang 2+2 with fewer than 3,000 miles on the clock. After going through the bureaucratic rigmarole of trying to title a '65 automobile, Herb Gordon is now, in the eyes of the law at least, its original owner. Careful restoration took about nine months, with most of the grunt work shared by Herb and his good friend and mechanical mentor, Steve Ball. Although the overwhelming majority of its bits are original, the fastback had sat for the intervening decades in a three-sided shed with its nose exposed to the elements, so it required an N.O.S. hood before being handed over to Delmont Fleet Services in Lancaster, Ohio, for refinishing.
When all was said and done, Herb's low-mileage masterpiece was invited to participate in Ford's 100th Anniversary Celebration in Dearborn last summer, a fitting recognition for a well-preserved piece of automotive art. And with its free-revving 289 Hi-Po crowned by a pair of Carter AFBs, this is the sort of art that can really move you.