Mustang restorer John Murphy likes to say that none of us ever really own a vintage Mustang. Instead, we're each a steward to the cause of preserving these cars as they were when Ford was building them at three assembly plants across North America. We're the ones entrusted with keeping the legend and the cars alive.
It was John who turned me on to Scott Fuller, who is serious about preserving Mustangs as they came from the factory, not necessarily the way restorers and show judges perceive they came from the factory. Scott owns a collection of original, unmolested Mustangs ranging from California and High Country Specials and Shelbys to this just-acquired 15,000-mile '68 Sprint B hardtop.
"I have an affliction for original, unrestored Mustangs and Shelbys," Scott tells us. "Particularly '68s." When this Royal Maroon '68 hardtop surfaced on eBay last year, it got Scott's immediate attention. The car got a lot of bids, but did not sell.
Months later, Scott contacted the seller to learn that the car was still for sale. True to the seller's description, the Mustang was clad in the original factory enamel and the interior was original right down to the unused seatbelts, which were still wrapped in plastic. In the trunk was the original and never-on-the-ground E70 x 14 biased belted spare tire. Likewise, the jack and lug wrench had never been used. While the engine compartment suffered from time and the elements, almost everything was still there. "PAINT OK MARTZ" was stamped in the fenders and cowl, although normal wear items like belts, hoses, and ignition wires had been replaced. The 289's Autolite 2100 carburetor had been serviced yet the original heater hoses remained.
"The car came with a huge paper trail, including the broadcast sheet," Scott boasts. On the broadcast sheet was the "397" rotation number, which was also scribbled on the radiator support, still there 41 years later. There was also the original bill of sale from Westfield Motor Sales in Westfield, New Jersey. Scott found himself with maintenance receipts and records, the Ford Owner Card and owner's manual, and all glovebox paperwork.
Scott's hardtop is a Sprint B version, which was originally outfitted with C-stripes, wheel lip moldings, pop-open gas cap, fog lamps, styled steel wheels, and E70 x 14 Wide-Oval white sidewall biased belted tires. Some 15,106 were produced for '68, according to Kevin Marti of Marti Auto Works. If you've noticed the missing C-stripes, that's because the original owner asked Westfield Ford to remove them before delivery, as noted on the sales invoice from 1968.
There's always a reason for low miles on a Mustang like this. According to Scott,
the hardtop was a spare car rarely used by a Cranford, New Jersey, family. They drove the Mustang as needed but mostly it sat in a damp garage, less than 20 miles from the Metuchen assembly plant where it was built, getting maintenance as needed to keep it running. In the car's first 20 years, it was driven 14,568 miles. Between 1988 and 2009, mileage dropped to a modest 468 miles. For 21 years, it sat unused.
Although Scott's purchase is a nice example of what Ford's Metuchen, New Jersey, assembly plant was producing in 1968, it has suffered to some degree due to neglect and exposure to dampness. The engine compartment has surface rust, peeling paint, oil and coolant leaks, replacement hoses and clamps, and a new radiator. There are also minor scratches and paint imperfections typical of a garage-kept automobile. Most obvious is pitted chrome and die-cast also due to dampness.
When we examine the body buck tag and warranty plate, each jibes with the Marti Report. The car's identity became real on April 4, 1968, when it received its vehicle identification number. The body was bucked on April 24, one day behind its scheduled build date of April 23. Assembly got underway on April 29, also the date of completion. Scott's Sprint hardtop was sold a month later, on May 28 at Westfield Motors.
Scott's '68 Sprint hardtop is the quintessential Mustang hardtop with 289-2V power, C4 Select Shift, 2.79:1 peg-leg cogs, and four-wheel manual drum brakes. Ford built thousands of them. What makes this one different is its unique story of survival and the good fortune of finding Scott Fuller, faithful steward, who will preserve its legacy for decades to come.
'68 Sprint Facts
• Springtime Sales Stimulator for Mustang hardtops designed to get buyers into showrooms
• Sprint A was a simple hardtop with six or optional V-8, C-stripe, wheel lip molding, full wheel covers, and pop-open gas cap. 25,012 were built
• Sprint B was more generously equipped with a standard V-8 (289), C-stripes, fog lamps, wheel lip moldings, pop-open gas cap, and styled steel wheels with E70 x 14 Wide-Oval white sidewall tires. 15,106 were built.