What was clear, however, was that this car wasn't treated to a particularly pampered life, as the once sparkling Burnt Amber Pony was dinged and rusted in the typical places. Credit for the restorative paint and bodywork should be attributed amongst Scott Robinson, Larry Russell, and Randy Sargent, while Maria herself played a part in multiple roles; interior assembler, sandblaster, undercoating scraper ... well, you get the idea.
Under the hood sits a standout C-code 289, not because of prodigious power output, but because of the fantastic detail work and a seldom-seen option callout. Maria had Snohomish, Washington's West Coast Restorations go the whole nine yards on the engine compartment resto, topped by a rechromed air cleaner that puts a fresh face to the nifty Sports Sprint package. To be clear, the chromed top is factory stock, a part of the Sports Sprint marketing campaign that was also advertised to include that coveted turn-signal hood, rocker moldings, full wheelcovers, whitewall tires, and a vinyl-covered shifter handle on automatic models. As it sits now, you can see Maria prefers Styled Steel wheels to hubcaps, in this case, a set of fully chromed 15x7s from Specialty Wheels.
In addition to the knockout rolling stock, Maria opted for a few subtle upgrades in the name of driveability and enjoyment. The list includes a larger front sway bar, front disc brakes, a Custom Autosound audio system with CD changer, and in case the stereo sounds get tiresome, dual exhausts. It's a package she's now smitten with, to the tune of some 15,000 miles since the restoration was completed in 2002.
Maria's considerable seat time has taken her to Mustang shows all over the west, from Calgary, Alberta, to Yreka, California, often accompanied by her fiancee Brian Card. If you asked Maria, she'd say Brian would rank as the biggest surprise of her ponycar experience, having met the equally afflicted Mustang buff at a Montana show in 2003.
In hindsight, would it be an exaggeration to say that 1996 phone call from Maria's father was the catalyst for a life-changing experience? Hardly, and we send a hearty congratulations to Maria in more ways than one.
It's unusual to see a restored '67 featuring the chromed-lid air cleaner of the Sports Sprint option, a trim package created to generate additional showroom traffic for the spring of 1967. Kevin Marti at Marti Autoworks (www.martiauto.com) was kind enough to indulge us with some Sports Sprint minutia, at the same time confirming original Ford advertising that promoted availability on hardtops and convertibles only-fastbacks were left out of the mix for unknown reasons. Of further interest, every engine in the lineup was offered in Sports Sprint trim, though some in extremely limited quantity. While T-code, C-code, and A-code Sports Sprints were easily spotted by virtue of their unique air cleaner, we imagine the handful of 390GT and K-code units would be less distinguishable since a chrome lid was already part of their engine packages.
Marti's data (statistics quoted are copyright Ford Motor Company and Marti) indicates the first '67 Sports Sprint was built on February 14, 1967, with no obvious significance to the sweetheart holiday. With the hood down, the package was decidedly low-key, and we suspect the identity of many Sports Sprints has been lost over the years as numerous telltale air-cleaner lids were discarded and replaced. From the condition Maria reports of her chromed lid when she bought her car, chrome quality wasn't exactly world class. Aside from complete air cleaners, which were replaced by various aftermarket units, we'd guess many a pitted, chromed top ended up with a rattle-can spray job.
Another interesting tidbit we gleaned from Marti was that the turn-signal hood was not available as a stand-alone option, coming only as part of a larger option package. A case in point was the Exterior Decor Group, which beyond the hood, included the likes of wheelwell moldings, trunklid trim, and a pop-open gas cap. Sports Sprint is the only other package Marti is aware of to include the turn-signal hood in '67, ringing the till at a paltry $35. Better still, Marti reports that adding air conditioning to a Sports Sprint model netted the trim package for free. In other words, Sports Sprint was a pretty inexpensive way of adding pizzazz to a basic Mustang; in fact, it was just $19.41 more than rocker moldings by themselves. What a deal!