According to Bob Perkins, collector of low-mileage Mustangs and head judge of authenticity for the Mustang Club of America, "It's hard to find low-mileage anything these days." Low miles and originality carry weight with collectors, especially when the factory paint is still pristine, as it is on Bob's '66 convertible with 7,200 miles on the odometer.
Under the hood of his original '66 convertible is the desirable 289 four-barrel, the A-code with 225 hp. Bob also points out the Signalflare Red paint, black deluxe interior with Pony bucket seats, and the 6.95x14 U.S. Royal redline tires. Adding to the museum appearance is the original Autolite Group 22 battery. It's stone-cold dead and won't start the car, but there it sits for all to see and study because the Group 22 battery has not been reproduced. "It's a rare bird," he says.
Bob bought this car about five years ago from well-known Mustang collector Jim Bridges in North Carolina. Jim picked up the car in the early '80s from the original owner. Mileage was ultra-low at about 7,000. Jim never drove or showed the car, and it basically sat in storage.
When this '66 arrived, Bob only cleaned it up. He carefully inspected the original acrylic enamel paint and found a small scratch down the driver's door. Apparently, a cat attempted to get inside the open window from under the car cover. "It came out with a little hand glaze," Bob recalls. "You couldn't feel the scratch with your fingernail. If you can't feel it, you can usually get it all out. That was lucky."
Original, unrestored paint has become a precious commodity in vintage Mustang circles. Low miles doesn't always come packaged with original paint, nor does the odometer reading ensure a high degree of originality.
About 10 years ago, Bob drove to Nebraska to check out an early Mustang with 35 miles. The wheel covers, still in the trunk, were never installed. However, the roof of the storage building leaked, creating problems with the acrylic enamel. The owner had changed the belts, hoses, battery, and oil filter as general maintenance.
Savvy collectors know better than to change out original parts, especially when the car is in storage and not being driven. Bob's 7,200-mile convertible even has the engine ID sticker on the coil. "Things like that you never see," he says. "That's what's so neat about this car. Nobody has ever pressure-washed that stuff off it. It's still got all the original Ford exhaust and it's nice." Exhausts, even on original cars, routinely rot away because water gets trapped inside.
Next, Bob lifted the carpet and underlayment to show the underlying paint is "as perfect as the day it was painted." He says it's "absolutely flawless, brand new." There is no surface rust and, apparently, no moisture seeped in. Bob says, "It's so rare to find any year convertible where, for some reason or another, the top hasn't leaked and the carpet and underlayment never got damp," which provides a good chance of surface rust forming.
"I took pictures of the floorpan," Bob admits. "It's the prettiest floorpan you ever saw inside a Mustang, and that's just the way the whole car is. Inside the trunk, it's absolutely brand new."
Backing up the originality is the warranty card and original window sticker to document the car's makeup. Spinner hubcaps add flash, and the AM/ eight-track stereo is a trick accessory. The retail price was $3,552.64. Bob says, "It's the best original little '66 convertible I've ever run across."