A T-5 convertible isn't your average, everyday Mustang. Right off the bat, this '68 is special because it really isn't a Mustang; officially, it's a T-5. Because there was a question about trademark infringement in Germany, that's what Ford named each Mustang destined for Germany. You won't find the Mustang name anywhere on the car. Toss in the six-cylinder backed by a three-speed, and you have a car that piques interest among the hard-core Mustang person and the neophyte.
As interesting as this story sounds, Johnnie and Rachel Garner have a much hotter tale to tell. What really excites them is that this, their third Mustang restoration, has become a national show-car champion in Concours Trailered competition. That's exciting, and a little unusual, because Rachel drives the T-5 to every show.
By "national champion," we mean more than Mustang Club of America. In Augusta, Georgia, last Labor Day, they drove their way to a Gold in Concours Trailered at the MCA's Grand National show. The year before, Johnnie and Rachel, from Rock Hill, South Carolina, accepted an invitation to attend a Saturday night banquet in Philadelphia to pick up a national award from the Antique Automobile Club of America. Their T-5 was selected by a national committee from thousands of entrants.
The Garners own another Mustang, a '67 that's also a T-5, a convertible, and a six-cylinder with a three-speed. So they're privy to the T-5 heritage.
Rachel pointed out the T-5 front-fender badges were similar to the '66 Mustang GT front-fender badges. Beside them, in place of the usual "Mustang" letters, are "Ford" letters. On the dash in front of the passenger, a rectangular T-5 dash emblem replaced the Mustang emblem.
In August 1998, the Garners met Jerome Ginger, who had driven his '68 T-5 convertible to a Carolina Regional Mustang Club meeting in Charlotte with the intention of selling. "Everybody looked at it," Rachel told us. "He was the original owner, so we told him not to sell it. And he didn't sell it that night. He joined our club instead. But we kept in touch with him because we have the '67 T-5 equipped just like it."
A month later, the Garners bought the T-5. One might think they are crazy for T-5s; actually, they're just crazy for Mustangs. Rachel explained that both cars simply "fell in our lap." They didn't go hunting for them. Their intention was to restore this Mustang, like they'd been doing, for shows. However, they never intended to trailer the car.
Rachel explained, "I drove the '68 to Augusta, entered it in the Concours Trailered class, and still won a Gold."
She credits Bob Perkins, head MCA judge and Mustang Monthly Resto Roundup columnist, with the idea. They met him in Houston at another MCA show earlier in the year. Bob explained their car was just as good as any trailered Mustang.
"He's the one who inspired me to drive it and put it in the Trailered class."
The story is even more amazing considering the amateur restoration.
"Johnnie did everything to this car but put the top on. All these awards we've won mean so much because Johnnie did all the work himself, and he's not a body man or a paint man. He just wanted to do his own stuff to please himself."