By D. Brian Smith
A year after deciding not to purchase a 1969 Shelby GT350 Mustang, I was still regretting passing up on buying that rare and racy machine. I had used some of that money by investing in myself and going back to school to obtain a K through 8th grade multiple subject teaching credential. Looking back, I made many positive life decisions in that year since not buying the GT350.
Daily Driving 1965 Mustang Fastback - Back to School
Going back to school was a blast. Living with my sister, brother-in-law, and their three kids in San Mateo, CA while going to San Jose State for my teaching credential was awesome. I undoubtedly learned much more about how you can raise three kids to become smart and upstanding adults by observing my sister Melinda and my brother-in-law Cris ably parenting than I did from taking classes at SJSU.
School full-time and investing some of my savings in mutual funds instead of the Shelby didn't leave me with too much hobby car cash. No worries. I still had the 1991 Miata as my daily driver. It was worth $9K, so I kept the search going for a nice barn find muscle car. My 45-minute daily commute from San Mateo to SJSU might be even more fun in an old muscle car than in a drop top Miata.
Or it could be a recipe for disaster if I don't find the right one - a real money pit of a muscle car project. I found a reasonably priced 1965 Mustang fastback that had a four-speed manual transmission and a Ford small block V8 in the antique car classifieds section of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. Since my sister and her family were going on vacation for a week, that would be a perfect opportunity for me to work on the old relic and get her daily driving ready for the SJSU roundtrip weekly commute while they were away on vacay.
I convinced my brother Kevin and his wife Tanya that they needed a working vacation in San Mateo. They flew out from Suwanee, GA to help. Kevin and I replaced the factory cast-iron two-barrel intake manifold with an Edelbrock Performer four-barrel satin finish aluminum intake and an Edelbrock Performer four-barrel carburetor with an electric choke. We also replaced the air cleaner assembly with a chrome air cleaner, performed an oil change, checked the air pressure in the decent tread tires, and determined that the Mustang now would be more reliable and fun-to-drive than before.
Above: The Mustang in these photos is similar to the one that I purchased, but in a bit better condition. Mine was a number three driver, while this one is a number one. Photos courtesy of Mecum Auctions.
Bombing up and down the 101 freeway for the weekly commute was a hoot in the manual steering, dual exhaust, four-wheel drum brake, no passenger side view mirror Wimbledon White over medium blue Mustang. I felt as if I was 1960's stock car champion Cale Yarborough himself at two by 75 mph wrestling the non-power steering stock steering wheel down the road on the 101.
You might have already guessed that the real heroes or saints of this pony car tale are really Melinda and Cris for permitting me to store all my stuff in their garage, which included a Yamaha Seca II motorcycle, my tools, all my furniture, sports gear, clothing, dishes, and etc. They also let me have two cars parked in their driveway or on the street for a time. More importantly, for a year's duration I was living rent free in exchange for helping them with their great kids Travis, Maddy, and Lacey. I definitely got the absolute best end of that deal and will forever be in their debt. What's more, Melinda and Cris are so cool, that they never remind me of that fact.
Kevin and Tanya also deserve my thanks for giving up part of their saved-up vacation hours to be pony car mechanics, especially Kevin, during that fun week of wrenching away and pony car piloting. If you have some American muscle car projects making progress in your car collecting garages, you can likely relate to the old car hobby being one that's often shared with family and friends. In this humble scribe's opinion, it's just about the best part of the old car hobby.
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