- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (AP) - Tim and Ruth Bredahl of Cottage Grove gently unwrapped a present at the celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary last month at the Lake Elmo Inn. Inside they found a model-size replica of a 1965 cherry red Ford Mustang - with a full-size key.

Then the Bredahls and their family headed out of the restaurant, where the shiny red “Pony” from their memories was parked on the street.

“This is unbelievable,” Tim Bredahl said as they approached the car.

He opened the door for his wife and they sat inside, marveling at the car’s interior and what their daughters had done, while family members stood by, snapping pictures.

The car had been sold twice and racked up more than 350,000 miles in 50 years. But the Bredahls’ daughters found a way to get it back.

Tim Bredahl paid $2,500 for the four-barrel 289 manual transmission Mustang in 1965.

He had just graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in chemical engineering.

Later that year, he and Ruth drove it to Canada for their camping-trip honeymoon.

The Bredahls brought both of their daughters, Michelle Wolter and Heather Goetz, home from the hospital in the Mustang. It was the vehicle both girls learned to drive. The family took countless trips across the North Dakota border to visit family in what they called the “Pony.”

“I remember being a little girl and going for rides in the car and thinking it was super fast. … It was fun growing up with it and waiting to drive it,” Wolter told the St. Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/1Owmd2q).

The family packed the car for several cross-country moves as Tim Bredahl rose through the ranks in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Wolter said she remembers driving the Mustang to high school.

With no power steering or brakes, “it was a car that you truly earned your driving stripes on,” she said.

In 1994, Tim Bredahl announced he was going to sell the car to a cousin who lived in Texas because it needed to be restored.

Wolter said she didn’t talk to her father for more than a month after she found out.

Eventually she and her husband bought the car back - still unrestored - to surprise her parents on their 40th wedding anniversary.

But after five years, Wolter realized she didn’t have the time or resources to restore the car, either. She sold it again.

Last November, she bought it back - for good. She had it restored and came up with a plan to surprise her parents for their 50th.

The Bredahls, who are in their early 70s, were reunited with the car Aug. 28.

“We reminisced a whole lot more because of all the thoughts that run through your head over the years and the different trips and kids learning to drive. It really is just a sweet happy feeling of bringing us back to our younger years,” Ruth Bredahl said later.

And after everything the Pony has been through?

“This time, it’s not leaving the family,” Wolter said.

___

Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com

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