At the spring-opener car show hosted by the National Capital Region Mustang Club in Rockville, Maryland, Richard Porter walked up and gave my shirttail a swift yank. Richard needs no introduction with anyone who is into Mustangs in the Washington, D.C., area. He knows Mustangs, and he's restored more than his share of concours, show-winning national champs.
Richard got our attention to tell us about the pair of Honey Gold '65 Mustangs at the show. From a distance, they didn't stand out on a cloud-covered afternoon. But Richard teased us with some information: 10,000 miles on the convertible and 25,000 miles on the hardtop, both unrestored, and neither ever featured in a magazine. Our natural curiosity rose to the surface. We had to know more, so Richard handed us off to owner Michael Murray, originally from Missouri, now living in Virginia.
Displayed side by side were Michael's two Honey Gold Mustangs, one a convertible and the other a hardtop, both assembled at Dearborn within one month of each other in 1965. The convertible was ordered by Corkey Rupert of Blue Springs, Missouri, on April 28, 1965. He and his wife wanted a nice convertible to drive around the lush western Missouri countryside. In 1972, the car was parked in the basement and never driven again. The odometer read just 10,774 miles.
We'll probably never know why this car sat for so many years. Michael picks up the story, "In 1976, my father found out about this car from my uncle, who was Corkey's best friend. Over the years, we tried to purchase the Mustang with no luck. In 2002, we were finally able to."
Michael speaks of this car with a lot of pride, like the big fish that eluded his hook for years. "After getting it home, I spent many hours cleaning it up-mainly the underside-because it was driven mostly on gravel roads," he adds. Since purchasing the convertible two years ago, Michael has driven the car just three miles. Imagine what it felt like for him to take his wife, Patsy, for a spin in an almost-brand-new '65 Mustang.
When you study this Mustang in its factory original shape, it helps you understand why buyers ordered Honey Gold with the Ivy Gold interior in 1965. There is a richness about the combination when you take the wheel, which shows no wear in its simulated woodgrain. The smell of new vinyl triggers the rush of remembering 1965. In our book, this is what gives a 10,000-mile original top billing.
We also like the car's well-equipped status: 225hp 289-4V V-8, C4 Cruise-O-Matic, 3.00:1 Limited Slip gears, Interior Dcor Group in Ivy Gold and White, full wheel covers with Firestone Deluxe Champions, power convertible top, and all the trimmings. Just imagine the excitement for a young Missouri family four decades ago.
After checking out a 10,000-original-mile convertible, it's almost difficult to get excited about Michael's "high-mileage" 25,000-mile hardtop. But we'll admit he hit the gold jackpot not once, but twice. This Honey Gold hardtop, originally from Cleveland, is not only a low-mileage original, it's also the same color as the convertible, pinstriped the same way in black, equipped with the same Ivy Gold Pony interior, and built within three weeks of the drop-top. A close study shows a lot of similar nuances rooted in the same assembly procedures. We're convinced these cars were probably handled and touched by the same people at Dearborn Assembly. There are similar scratches in the gold valve covers, and the decals are installed the same way. Even the shock-absorber rebound bumper bolts are installed identically with the heads pointed outboard. When you find two factory originals built exactly the same way, it practically makes them fraternal twins, yet different and unique to themselves.
The hardtop is something you might expect from the Great Lakes region-void of air conditioning, equipped with a conventional 2.80:1 axle and Cruise-O-Matic transmission, and more conservative in its execution. Underhood is a 200-horse 289-2V V-8. On the ground are not-so-conservative Styled Steel wheels with Firestone Champion tires. Inside is the same Ivy Gold interior with white appointments.
Preserving our history teaches us something about who we are and what we stand for in America. For two families long ago, it meant living the Mustang dream of a lifetime, just like Michael and Patsy live it today.