Soon we were in Boulder City, where Brad stores the '68 fastback and his '69 Mach 1 in a garage built around 1930. As Brad peeled the covers off the '68 fastback, dust rolled off the back window.
"Dust is a problem here," complained Brad. "There's dust everywhere. Bought this '68 off a guy in town. His kid was driving it to high school, but when he went to college, he sold it to me for $3,500. The interior was trashed, but we saved the paint."
Brad opened a second garage door and pulled the cover off the Mach 1. "I think I gave the lady $5,500 for it," he said. "We did everything on this one . . . well, we didn't pull the 351, but we repainted it and replaced the chrome and interior."
The pride of Brad's collection was next, stored in a modern facility a mile or so away. Funny thing, it's a six-cylinder-not a muscle V-8. Brad seemed to enjoy talking about the 80-year-old original owner as much as the car.
"She gave me the original paperwork and purchase order," explained Brad, "but she didn't have the window sticker. She bought it on February 9, 1966, from California Motors Ford in Glendale, California."
Hoover Dam was less than 10 miles away, and we couldn't resist a cruise with the top down. First, we took a quick peek at Brad's '67 convertible. He talked diplomatically of the two women, "romantically involved," who sold the car.
"What appeals to me is the factory four-speed," said Brad. "When I went to look at it, it wasn't ready. The owner said her girlfriend had put a new carburetor on it, and it wouldn't run. So we got to tinkering with the carb. In a matter of minutes, we had it running so we could test drive it. We brought it home."
The six fired up the third try. Each time, Brad pumped the gas pedal four or five times. The air was perfect for an open-air drive. At Hoover Dam, we rolled to a security checkpoint, and an officer announced, "Sir, you'll have to leave that car here."
He was joking. Three policemen told us how nice the Mustang was, and it turned heads the whole way through Hoover Dam. Even with a six, Brad Beal had arrived.
Beal is one of the millions of post-World War II baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, who have raised their kids and are now buying the cars of their youth. These people have disposable incomes and have entered their prime money-earning years. They no longer need a sedan to haul the kids. They fall smack dab in the middle of the group who favor the '60s and early-'70s performance cars.
One of the last things Brad said during our visit was, "I might even clean up that little '66 convertible someday." Actually, we'll look for a full-blown restoration once the new house is built. Watch and see-baby-boomers like Brad are also overachievers.