Fastback in the Weeds
I had heard about a 406 Mercury in an Oklahoma shed. On my annual sojourn to the Mid America Performance Ford and Team Shelby Nationals, I took the side roads to find the Mercury. It was there, but I also investigated other cars. What was that Mustang sticking out of the weeds? I recognized the vents of what was surely a '65-'66 fastback.
My host explained, "Oh that? About eight or nine years ago, a guy brought this car from Texas for a restoration. I haven't heard from him since."
Isn't this a likely story? The body looked great, but I did not wade through the tall weeds lest a snake bite me. The head-scratching owner described the fastback as having a two-barrel 289 backed by a three-speed manual. I noticed what appeared to be part of a roll bar. On second look, it was actually a driveshaft in the rear seat area. I wondered why my friend did not record the owner's name and number.
"He called and said he was coming up from Texas to bring the car," he explained. "He came up on a Sunday and said he'd get back to me." How could he not call back with details?
"The only thing I'm thinking is maybe he got involved in a car wreck and got hurt. Maybe he got a divorce."
So I asked what he planned to do with the fastback.
"I'm going to file a mechanic's storage lean again him and get it running and fixed up."
Storage fees over eight to nine years can consume the value of an old car. At a reasonable $5 per day, the yearly storage fee is $1,825. Multiply that by nine years and you get $16,425, exceeding the worth of this '65 that has been neglected for so many years.
Kar Kraft Records
Rare finds in this case are not cars, but actually historic records from Kar Kraft, Ford's job shop that produced Boss 429 Mustangs in Brighton, Michigan, in 1969-1970. Other interesting performance Fords were tied to Kar Kraft in one way or the other, including the Trans-Am Boss 302s, the ill-fated Quarter Horse Mustang, and the '70 Shelby conversions. Collectors could use the archives for information about their valuable cars.
Randy Hernandez told me, "My Dad has always been a pack rat. When he retired from Ford in 1994, the lion's share of the paperwork ended up in various places around his house."
Randy's father is Fran Hernandez, who was Ford's Manufacturing Liaison Manager at Kar Kraft. When he sold his house and went to assisted living, another son, who was helping with the move, placed the old Kar Kraft records on the curb for garbage pickup. Luckily, Randy and his sister retrieved "everything our brother tossed out." They deeded the files to Bob Perkins, the Boss Mustang collector in Juneau, Wisconsin. Bob credits Dan Naugel, who lived in Randy's neighborhood near Detroit, with the connection to the treasure.
The files came with images of the Quarter Horse. Just two were built.
Dan parked his classic Fords in his driveway from time to time. Perkins explained, "Randy stopped and gave Dan some shop manuals. And they became friends."
Dan eventually found out about the archival Kar Kraft material. He told Randy that Perkins should get the files. Bob drove his truck from Wisconsin to Michigan and, after ironing out details, returned home with the mountain of data.
Randy agreed that too often museums become "black holes" where information enters but never resurfaces, or it's not easily disseminated. Randy felt Perkins would be a good custodian of the information, safeguarding it and preserving the history along with his father's legacy. Perkins says it would take months to go through all the material, which weighs 500-600 pounds. What kind of records are they?
Perkins said, "All the Boss 429 stuff, like the specifications of the cars, parts suppliers to Kar Kraft, and different engineering changes."
Bob Perkins (right) shakes hands with Randy Hernandez after the two put the historic Kar K
A cursory check of the files reveals that, as time went on, the Dearborn Assembly Plant was given responsibility for more and more of the Boss 429 assembly. For example, Kar Kraft did the work on the suspensions for the first cars. However, by mid-February 1969, it appears Dearborn Assembly installed all the unique pieces.
Each Boss 429 KK number is listed with details, such as when each car was delivered to Kar Kraft and in what stage of assembly and with what options and accessories.
Bob got an entire book with paperwork about the Quarter Horse Mustangs, which were originally designed as Boss 429s with Shelby-style front fiberglass. Just two prototypes were built. According to the records, both were originally fitted with 429 Super Cobra Jets. Neither had a Boss 429 under the hood from Kar Kraft.
Randy's ultimate wish is acknowledgement on the source of the information, which he calls "compliments of my Dad."