Upon university graduation, Owen Scott's parents surprised him with a spanking-new '65 A-code Mustang fastback in Vintage Burgundy-an act of parental generosity that Owen considers the "gift to end all gifts." He refers to that event as the first of his life's three Mustang stories, but we consider it more accurate to think of it as merely the first chapter in what has become a lifelong Mustang story. That first chapter ended when Owen "made the foolish mistake of trading it in 1970 for a 455 HO, Muncie four-speed GTO coupe." But, hey, not all chapters end on a high note, right?
Chapter Two began in 1999 when Owen's son approached him for help in locating a '65-'68 Mustang fastback or convertible. "For his first car," says Owen, "he wanted a vintage Mustang, not something I expected from a 20-year-old! We found a number of Mustangs for sale. None was what he wanted. They were either too rough or too expensive, or the wrong color, or the wrong transmission, or the wrong engine."
Ten years ago, this is what...
Ten years ago, this is what the seller delivered to Owen Scott: a used-up '68 fastback painted in flat-black primer.
But they persevered until, not far from Owen's Guelph, Ontario, Canada home: "We found a '68 GT fastback from Arizona that had a good, straight body, but little else. It was originally Raven Black with a dark red interior, S-code 390 with a four-speed and limited-slip 9-inch. Unfortunately, when we found it, the original engine and transmission had been replaced with a hotted-up 302 and a C4 automatic, outfitted as a drag racing car. Most of the interior was missing. None of the exterior trim was there, and it was painted flat-black primer to hide all the sins that it had endured over its 32 years. Sometime in its life it had been stolen-it had an Arizona state stolen-vehicle sticker to prove it. In spite of all this, I was tired of looking and suggested to my son that I would help him restore the beast."
Assuming his son would go for it, Owen "put a $1,000 deposit on the car. The next day, my son told me he had decided against the project. It was just too much work and would take too long. I was now either the proud owner of a clapped-out Mustang, or short $1,000 . . . "
Thus began Chapter Three . . .
"The Mustang was delivered to my door in February 2000, in the dark of night, in a rain storm," says Owen. "It actually looked pretty good that night. It didn't look so good in the morning! My son took a long look and decided he had made the right choice. He gave me a 50-50 chance of ever getting it on the road." (Incidentally, later that same year, Owen found his son a dream car in the form of a '65 A-code, four-speed GT fastback with factory air-not terribly unlike the one that had started it all for him all those years ago.)
For Owen, nearly a decade's work was about to begin. This is the condensed version. He initially considered leaving the 302 in place because it ran fine after he "fiddled" with it. Then he found a correctly date-coded 390 FE, so it was goodbye small-block. As for the tranny: "Interestingly enough," says Owen, "the previous owner had installed the C4 automatic while leaving a Hurst four-speed shift lever and the original clutch pedal in place. You could start the car in Drive or Reverse, and since there was no gate for the transmission, you had to guess in what gear it was."
Bizarre at best, and Owen soon hunted down a date-correct Toploader four-speed, so the C4 joined the 302 on the unemployment line. In the meantime, he had decided on a complete rotisserie restoration, so "the shell was stripped, panels straightened (someone must have done a tap dance on the roof), and the car painted in Raven Black once again, this time by Brooks Auto Restoration in Eramosa, Ontario."
Owen also got very much hands-on: "I installed a new radiator, heater core, headliner, etc., and spent countless hours and more dollars than I care to think about. My son and I spent numerous evenings lying on a cold garage floor, fiddling with the four-speed linkage, figuring out how door locks work (or don't), and looking for answers in the tech articles in Mustang Monthly."
The FE was bored 0.030-over and rebuilt by AutoServ/98 in Guelph with a mild Crane street cam that we noticed right away, but is otherwise stock. Over the years, Owen sought out the scads of necessary NOS or reproduction parts, and jokes (we think) that, "Numerous false starts threatened to kill the project. I installed the wiper motor arms upside down and scratched the new paint on the cowl when I turned the wipers on. After much cursing and knuckle-busting, I got the window glass in, only to realize that I needed to install the vent windows first. Most things have been done twice, some three and four times . . . "
Fearing his son may have been right in predicting that he'd never finish the car, in late 2009 Owen finally trailered the GT to Mustang Pony Cars in London, Ontario, for completion, including swapping out the '69-vintage 3.89-geared rear axle that someone had previously fitted for a more highway-friendly 9-inch with a 3.00:1 Traction-Lok setup.
So there were trials, but to Owen the experience has been rewarding: "One of the best things about this obsession is the people I met while looking for obscure bits and pieces, both in person and via the Internet and email. Everyone I have contacted has been helpful, or at least tries to be. After 10 years, I'm enjoying the ride. Thanks to all who helped."