That '64 1/2-what can you say about this car? "Wild" is Roy Curtis' best description. "There are so many wild things about a '64 1/2 that the car is just unreal," Roy told us at an MCA regional national in Dearborn. "I can tell you about more oddities on a '64 1/2 [than any other model], and I'm no expert."
While walking down the rows of early Mustangs, we noticed that Roy and Brenda Curtis' '64 1/2 really stood out from the herd, and it had nothing to do with the wild, special features Roy spoke of. The contrast of the Raven Black exterior against the bright red bucket seats, carpet, dashpad, door panels, steering wheel, and convertible boot cover really made this car jump out at us.
Both Roy and Brenda have been enthused by the '64 1/2 specialties, of which they can go on and on about, despite their modesty that they are "not experts." Anybody who has gone through the Curtises' '64 1/2 master's program, in our humble opinion, could be construed as an expert.
Concours judges have deferred to this couple's expertise. In the case of the AM radio dial, how many aficionados know that according to the MCA rule book, a 5 on the left-hand side means it's a '6411/44 and a 6 means it's a '65? The Curtises' AM radio, however, is date-coded March 1964. Their car was assembled approximately June 27, and their AM dial starts at the lower left side with a 6. Judges have given them the benefit of the doubt whenever they explained about the date code.
The Curtises' Mustang education began quite by accident when Brenda received this Mustang as a Mother's Day present. She wanted a convertible and the '64 1/2 model year had no bearing on the purchase. The couple was unaware of the "wild" features they were about to uncover on their black Pony. They were presented with an engine compartment that looked black and-for all practical purposes-devoid of detailing or of a road map by which to restore it.
That's why they began the restoration job by painting the 260 engine gold, the same color as the early 289 Mustangs' engines in the Mustang club in their area. Later when fire erupted from the Autolite 2V and ruined the hood, they were ignorant of its special features. They accepted a later-built '65 hood in the insurance settlement.
After reading Mustang Monthly and attending various national MCA shows, the Curtises began to gather information about their car. They spent a couple of years tracking down the original hood, and when Roy redetailed the engine bay, he stripped the incorrect gold paint and replaced it with the correct shade of light blue, just as it came from the Dearborn assembly plant.
Details and more details kept surfacing as the Curtises went through five years of restoration work. Both Roy and Brenda can elaborate on the wild facts. Brenda pointed to the unique '64 1/2 horns. Not only were they much larger than the '65 horns, but also much more expensive-$75.00 each (used) compared to $7.50! Roy said each horn is specific to each side and the horns located under the battery are harder to locate because they are corroded from acid.
Once, they paid $72.00 for a simple, little seatbelt clamp. Apparently, the '64 1/2 used unique attaching hardware that consisted of a scissor clamp that goes through an eyebolt. One of the four seatbelt tie-downs was incomplete. "We needed that fourth piece," said the Curtises, "and we literally called as many Mustang specialty junk yards as we could find throughout the United States. We finally found one in a junk yard in Colorado."
The Eaton power steering pump has a remote reservoir to accommodate air conditioning. Roy and Brenda discovered that air is quite rare with power steering on the '64 1/2. Without air, the pump came with the regular reservoir with the long-snout fill tube.
Space doesn't permit us to exhaust the Curtises' '64 1/2 memory banks. You will notice that they painted the engine red for the third detailing. According to MCA rules, the engine could be painted either factory blue or factory red. Roy and Brenda liked red because like the interior, it popped out against the black paint when the hood was opened.
Though Roy calls the car wild for its wealth of specific parts, we call the car wild because it is, after all, a Mustang.