You don't need MapQuest to figure out that 981 miles is the distance from Dearborn, Michigan, to Waxhaw, North Carolina, with stops in Bedford and Franklin, Indiana; just look at the odometer in Greg Sullins' '73 Mustang coupe.
That's right: the Blue Glow Metallic hardtop seen here took more than 30 years to find a home in Greg's garage, and managed to accomplish the move without cracking the grand mark. While such low- and no-mileage examples of "final-year" Mustang convertibles can still be seen hiding in garages around the country, a coupe of this vintage is about as rare as a teenager at the mall without a cell phone.
The blue Pony's slow journey began with its delivery to Pal Deckard Ford in Bedford on March 23, 1973. Carl Covey ordered the car for his wife, Mary, who history records as lacking sufficient enthusiasm to pursue a driver's license despite her appreciation for the gift. Carl went light on the notchback's options list, producing a tasteful combination of colors and equipment. The white vinyl top perfectly complemented a standard interior the color of Mr. Happy Tooth; the Decor Group brought with it lower body-side paint, a honeycomb grille, brushed-aluminum full hubcaps, and deletion of rocker-panel and wheel-opening moldings. Ordering the Convenience Group package gave the Coveys enough interior lights and buzzers to play a game of Operation. A final bit of flair was provided by adding the extra-cost argent body stripe, a la Boss 351.
The Coveys apparently enjoyed more disposable income than the average Mustang buyer because, rather than trade or sell Mary's $3,400 paperweight, they parked the coupe in the couple's heated garage for the next 23 years. To hear Mary talk about it decades later, there may have been some sentimentality in the Coveys' decision to keep the car-she admitted to enjoying the Mustang's beautiful blue exterior and virgin white interior.
In August 1996, Steven Cobb aired up the original Goodyear F70x14 Polyglas tires and added the '73 to his car collection in nearby Franklin, during which time he added 137 miles to its travel log. Cobb occasionally enjoyed the thrill of driving such a low-mileage Mustang, and once exercised the 302-cid two-barrel V-8 and C4 automatic transmission to a trotting pace of 70 miles an hour before concerns about ancient factory rubber and "original Detroit air" dampened his enthusiasm for speed.
After seven years of ownership, Cobb sold the coupe to Charlotte, North Carolina, vintage car dealer Tom Mack, who displayed it in his dealership for several months before running it through his auction at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Spring AutoFair in April 2004. As if a perfect Mustang with fewer than 1,000 miles wasn't enough to generate buyer interest by itself, Mack offered the coupe at "no reserve," which meant it would be going home with a new owner whether or not the final bid was a fair market price.
Lifelong Mustanger Greg Sullins surprised himself by wanting the '73. As current president of the Carolina Regional Mustang Club and a board member of the Mustang Club of America, Greg actively shows his '66 concours-restored Candyapple Red coupe, '70 Mach 1, '69 convertible, and '00 GT convertible. He admits the big-body '71-'73 cars have never appealed to him, but on hearing the buzz about a factory-fresh coupe with most of its original markings, tags, and stamps intact, Greg quickly became a convert.
"I knew this was a special car when I looked it over at the speedway," Greg remembers. "I especially liked that it had never been in a car show or featured in a magazine."
Acting on instinct, Greg managed to turn in the highest bid for a surprisingly modest price and took the '73 home to enjoy his new treasure trove of Mustang history. He immediately discovered the all-important factory buildsheet under the rear seat, weathered but complete documentation wrapped around the axle, and an "OK" stamp on a 1x2-inch piece of paper near the radiator. The original battery and oil filter are the only parts Greg can identify as having been replaced during the car's total tally of 981 miles.