First-generation Mustangs have long been Richard Porter’s favorites. He has owned convertible Mustangs and coupe Mustangs and in the summer of 1999 he decided to find and restore a fastback Mustang.
He wasn’t willing to accept a garden-variety fastback Mustang, he wanted the K-code High Performance version of the car that develops 271 horsepower from the 289-cubic-inch V-8 engine.
The search began for such a car and eventually lead to Franklin, Tenn. (near Knoxville) via the internet. The car had some racing damage to the right front corner but otherwise appeared to be in relative sound condition. Mr. Porter had a trusted friend who was about to travel to Mississippi. The friend agreed to stop in Tennessee to inspect the 1966 Mustang. He sent an affirmative report back to Mr. Porter.
That’s all the encouragement he needed. He sent the seller a deposit and said he would be right behind to take delivery of the car.
He enlisted the aid of Fred Anderson of Triple 5 Towing and on the first day of 2000 the pair drove off to Tennessee in a rollback truck. They figured the round trip would take about 18 hours.
Upon arrival in Tennessee, Mr. Porter gave the Mustang a cursory once-over before loading it onto the truck and heading back home to Woodbridge. Everything was going according to plan until they re-entered Virginia, That’s when snow started falling. The farther they went, the worse it became. Semi tractor-trailers were jackknifed but they kept on keeping on until they finally arrived home, six hours later than they had anticipated.
Mr. Porter left the Mustang in the driveway and went inside to get warm and sleep.
When the weather warmed, he inspected his prize in detail. “It hadn’t run in several years,” he says, theorizing that it wad been raced and wrecked early on and parked thereafter.
Damage was concentrated at the right front. Mr. Porter spent the first half of 2000 gathering all the parts he anticipated that he would need for a thorough restoration. That summer he completely disassembled the fastback Mustang.
A new right front shock tower and frame rail were welded in place and healthy new floor pans were installed. Virtually every part of the car was sandblasted clean. At that time he rebuilt the engine, four-speed manual transmission, 9-inch rear end, disc brakes and front suspension.
Mr. Porter reports that the body work and painting were done by Superior Auto Body. The Mustang left the factory 41 years ago wearing a coat of Ivy green with an Ivy gold and white deluxe interior. The original deluxe interior has been duplicated, including the Ivy gold headliner and the Ivy green carpeting.
Mr. Porter points out that his car came equipped with a deluxe interior package that includes a wood-grained steering wheel, with wood-grain trim on the instrument cluster and the glove compartment as well as on the door handles. Chrome trim around the rubber on the foot pedals completes the deluxe package.
Centrally located in the middle of the dashboard is the combination AM radio and eight-track tape player. Low on each door is a speaker.
Mounted on the steering column beneath the three-spoke steering wheel is the optional rally pac featuring an 8,000 rpm tachometer with a 7,500 rpm red line and a rally clock. The speedometer is calibrated to record speeds up to 140 mph. “It’ll do 140 if you’re brave enough to try it on these tires,” Mr. Porter says. His Mustang rolls on duplicates of the original tires, 6.95x14-inch U.S. Royals with dual red-line sidewalls.
The car has no air conditioner but it is equipped with a tinted windshield. The triangular area behind the windows in the doors conceals functional air vents that help draw air through the cabin.
The visibility group includes a day/night mirror and a remote-controlled left mirror, two-speed wipers and a pair of fog lights mounted in the grille, one on either side of the galloping chrome Mustang emblem.
Mr. Porter is quick to illustrate that in addition to being a performance car, the Mustang can be practical, too, by opening the small trunk lid and folding down the rear seat.
As the restoration progressed, Mr. Porter began to speed up the pace because he wanted to take it to a National Mustang gathering on June 29, 2002.
He beat the self-imposed deadline and drove his freshly restored Mustang to Youngstown, Ohio. Since then he has driven to Charlotte, N.C., Boston and made several trips to New Jersey.
He is a firm believer in driving his car. “Cars were made to drive, not trailer,” he says.