Maryann O'Lear's six-cylinder '68 hardtop pulls down MCA gold even though it has never been fully restored
Maryann O'Lear was still single when her then-fiancé, now-husband Ken Smith, helped reveal her hidden interest in classic cars. Through Ken's own automotive interests, Maryann decided she wanted something too.
“There wasn't any particular car in mind,” Maryann recalls. “Just something that I could drive around and take to shows.”
Of course, car-crazy Ken encouraged Maryann's new-found interest and was more than happy to keep his eyes and ears open for an older car that would fit Maryann's personality and driving style. In May 1994, a friend told him about a'68 Mustang hardtop that had been sitting in an elderly gentleman's garage for a number of years. With just 49,000 miles on the six-cylinder/automatic drivetrain, Maryann bought the Mustang and Ken got it running. Within a year, the couple embarked on a three-year “pretty-up,” as Maryann calls it, because the well-preserved Mustang didn't require the typical ground-up restoration. In fact, during the process, Maryann continued to drive the Mustang and earn trophies at shows near her home in Clinton Corners, New York.
The interior required little more than new carpet, as evidenced by the original “Important Safety Precaution” sticker that's still on the instrument panel to remind Maryann to place the shifter in Park and set the parking brake before shutting off the ignition. Externally, the time-faded exterior needed a fresh coat of Brittany Blue paint. At Stan's AutoBody in Patterson, New York, Stan and Ken Vishinski discovered a perfect body—amazingly, no northeastern rust—in need of paint stripping and respray. “No body work was needed,” Maryann says. “We didn't even have to remove the drip rail moldings and we simply rechromed the bumpers.”
The original 200 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine was rebuilt, with nothing more than hardened valve seats added to deal with today's no-lead fuel. At the same time, the engine compartment was cleaned and painted in preparation for more serious show competition.
In 1998, Maryann entered “Brittany” in Mustang Club of America concours competition for the first time. With a six-cylinder engine and no options beyond the AM radio and C4 automatic, the little blue hardtop earned a gold award among the ground-up restorations and heavily-optioned show cars. In fact, only 11 points were deducted. Since then, Maryann and Ken have entered the hardtop in five other MCA nationals, including a Grand National, and won gold at each one. They are now working toward the coveted grille medallion.
Through their little six-cylinder hardtop, the couple is now a full-blown Mustang family. In particular, Ken has narrowed his automotive focus to acquiring more Mustangs, including a '67 Shelby G.T. 350, a '70 Boss 302, and a '73 convertible.
And it all started with Maryann's “Special Six.”