"People thought I was nuts," says Jimmy Austin when recalling the comments he got when friends and family learned he was buying a new '84 Mustang GT convertible so he could park it for preservation. "I'm still not sure of the logic myself. It was just one of those things that hit me."
Today, the logic seems sound. Jimmy is now the proud owner of a 26-year-old Mustang GT with only 1,824 miles.
"I saw the kids out there tearing these cars up, so I thought I would save one," he adds.
Like many other potential Mustang GT buyers in 1983-'84, Jimmy had heard the rumor that Ford planned a horsepower increase, from 175 to 205 hp, for the GT's 5.0-liter engine at mid-year '84. But when Ford announced that it was postponing the power jump until the '85 model year, Jimmy went ahead and ordered his '84 GT convertible from Town East Ford in Mesquite, Texas. He took delivery on June 15, 1984.
For the next three or four weeks, Jimmy drove his new Bright Canyon Red GT convertible to "show it off" and to make sure there were no problems. Then, with just under 1,800 miles on the odometer, he parked it as a display vehicle inside his auto parts store. Over the next 25 years, it was driven only 25 miles, including the commute to Jimmy's home garage when he closed his parts store in 1998.
"The oil has been changed only once," Jimmy says. "That was probably 25 years ago. It may be due for another change so I've rounded up the correct Autolite oil filter." The only repair has been a replacement accelerator pump for the Holley four-barrel carb. "The original cracked and started leaking fuel," Jimmy notes.
When ordering the car in May 1984, Jimmy "loaded it up with options," noting that he didn't order the rock guard paint because he didn't know what it would look like. Of course, he saved the paperwork, including the window sticker that shows a $15,576 retail price. Options include the Sport seats, metric aluminum wheels with TRX tires, interval wipers, tilt steering, speed control, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with cassette and Premium sound, power side windows, Light/Convenience Group, and Power Lock Group.
These days, Jimmy continues to preserve his low-mileage '84 GT convertible. He sometimes trailers it to shows, like the Mustang Club of America national in Pensacola, Florida, where we first spotted the like-new Mustang. At one all-makes show, the GT failed to win a Heritage award for unrestored "survivors." Later, Jimmy says, "The head judge explained that it hadn't been driven enough to be considered a survivor."
"It's just like it came from the factory," says Jimmy, who serves as a judging supervisor for the International Show Car Association and as show chairman for the ISCA show in Dallas. "I don't keep it on blocks but I do park it on carpet to keep the moisture away. Once I found mouse droppings inside so I surrounded the car with traps and poison."
That may seem a little overboard to some. But at least now no one thinks that Jimmy was nuts for putting away his brand-new '84 GT convertible.