We've seen it time and time again. Mustang enthusiast buys car, enthusiast plans to do a little work on it, enthusiast tears car down, enthusiast takes over house. This process (sickness?), though it has no clinical name that we know of, is time-honored and well worn in the Mustang hobby. Many of us have already done this or, if you're new to the hobby, you may be on the verge of doing it. Don't fool yourself into thinking you won't bring a single car part into the house for cleaning-you will. We're not sure if Mike and Colleen Little of Prosser, Washington, thought about this when they bought the Bright Red '73 convertible seen here. Our bet is probably not; none of us do.
The car's life started in Cheyenne, Wyoming, at the Walton Motor Company as one of the last of the convertibles-at least until 1983. It came with-be it dealer stock or special order-a list as long as your arm and as expensive as a new Corvette at that time. Its motivation was the 351 Cleveland 4V. In its last year as a powerplant for the Mustang, the 351C was backed by the reliable, snappy C6 automatic. From there, the powertrain extended out back to a set of 3.25 open gears encased in a 9-inch axle housing. Other "required optional" goodies included power disc brakes and power steering, due to the 4V Cleveland and the tilt wheel, respectively. From there, the list gets lengthy and plush. Inside the cab, the car came down the line with the Instrumentation Group, the Convenience Group, the Rim-Blow steering wheel, a console, a Selectair air conditioner, interval windshield wipers, an AM/eight-track stereo, tinted windows, and the aforementioned tilt wheel. The convertible was also dressed to the nines on the outside with forged aluminum wheels, F70-14 raised-white-letter tires, competition suspension, body-side tape stripe, a TuTone hood, and the Deluxe Bumper Group. Wow! Now one can understand the $4,983.95 suggested retail price.
After it left the dealership, the tale of the Pony gets a little shaky. The car was driven at least 64,000 miles before it was placed in long-term storage in Pasco, Washington. Someone either lost or gave up the car from said storage in 1996 and a fellow bought the black-topped beauty, then promptly plopped a For Sale ad in the Pasco newspaper. That's where Mike and Colleen came into the picture. In 1997 we started a work-in-progress called The Lazarus Project for Mustang Monthly, and Mike decided he would restore his newly acquired '73 while following along with our project.
Soon Colleen began to see car parts in the bedroom and other rooms of the house. Suddenly, the monthly editorials in the front of Mustang Monthly weren't as funny to Mrs. Little, and she'd developed an affinity for Carla. Even so, Mike was motivated. His goal, after amassing all the parts needed, was to finish the car in time for The Mustangs Northwest Roundup in 2000. Though everything was ready, Mike had a big problem: four weeks remained and the final assembly was no where in sight. Needless to say, the Littles were in a crunch. Even so, that didn't stop them from producing a winner just in time for the show. Though Mike fell victim to the same "Just a Little Bit" sickness as the rest of us have, this '73 is a shining example of what a little bit will do.