Memories of the early '70s are sketchy at best for baby boomers now courting middle age. However, one memory from the summer of '72 is crystal clear for me personally-the day I learned both the Mustang convertible and its V-8 engine would be gone after 1973. The word was out about a smaller Mustang for '74, sans V-8 engine and convertible body style.
Many flocked to Ford dealers to place orders for convertible and V-8-powered Mustangs, unaware that fuel would become scarce and expensive a year later. At that point, they weren't able to unload the cars fast enough.
That same summer, Larry Kennedy was in a Ford showroom putting his money down on a new '72 Mustang convertible. It wasn't long before Larry had second thoughts about his new Mustang, electing to sell it because it didn't have the equipment he wanted. Lucky for him, his sister bought the '72 and Larry headed to Herr-West Ford to order a '73 Mustang convertible with all the good stuff-Q-code 351 Cleveland, Bright Red exterior paint, White Interior Dcor Group, convenience group, automatic seatback release, console, AM radio, power front disc brakes, four-speed, 3.25:1 Traction-Lok, and forged aluminum wheels with Firestone Wide Oval F70x14 raised-white-letter tires.
When Larry's convertible arrived in the spring of 1973, he drove his sister to her job in his new convertible so she could sell her old car to a co-worker. While Larry was waiting, a girl walked out of the building and said hello. He asked if she wanted to go for a ride and she accepted. Six months later, they were married. Starr and Larry have now been together for 35 years,
Today Starr jokes that it was the car that caught her eye.
A short time later, Larry traded the Mustang for a work truck. When the dealer auctioned off the Mustang, Starr and Larry were certain they would never see it again.
A few years later, the Kennedys decided they wanted a summer car to drive and enjoy around western New York. Larry was washing his truck while Starr scanned the newspaper classifieds. An ad caught her eye: "'73 Mustang convertible for sale, 351C-4V, four-speed." They dropped the paper and garden hose, and headed out to see the Mustang. "You could see the blue and white pinstripe I had put on the hood years earlier," Larry tells us. "The teeth marks on the Hurst shifter were still there from our St. Bernard puppy." Starr and Larry circled the car in disbelief.
It was clear the car had not been well cared for. The interior vinyl was no longer white, the door panels were torn, and the convertible top had been slashed. Much to Larry's surprise, mileage wasn't much higher than it was when the car was traded. They decided to buy the car at any price.
Thanks to help from a good friend, Don Kelly, the Kennedys returned their '73 convertible to showroom condition. When they first showed the car back in the late '70s, they weren't happy with how it performed in judging. It needed detail work to get it where it suited the Mustang Club of America's strict judging rules. In fact, they credit the MCA for giving them the drive to keep pressing on. They have belonged to the Mustang Club of America since 1977. Their membership number is a low #869.
It's easy to think of the Kennedys as typical baby boomers because their union is centered on the things that bond our generation. We're a car culture to be sure, but it's more than that. Mustang is a nameplate that has bonded not just a generation; it has also bonded couples like Larry and Starr Kennedy.
* '73 Mustang Convertible
* Bright Red
* Interior Dcor Group in white knitted vinyl
* Full instrumentation including 0-8,000 rpm tachometer
* AM radio
* Forged aluminum wheels
* F70x14 Firestone Wide Oval tires
* Power front disc brakes
* 351-4V V-8
* Top Loader four-speed
* 3.25:1 9-inch Traction-Lok