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Not a trailer queen...

Several years ago, while living in Belgium on an expatriate assignment, I was looking for a classic car. I was looking for a 4-seater convertible with iconic styling that was not going to be difficult (read expensive) to maintain. Reading a Classic Car magazine that made me realize what I was looking for. When Classic and Sport Cars featured the Mustang convertible on the cover celebrating 100 year of Ford, my choice was made. The fact that I had owned a ’95 GT convertible when living in South Carolina helped the connection with mustang.

After searching the web, visiting specialists, looking through magazines for over a year, I finally found one in 2004 after contacting the chairman of the Belgian Mustang & Cougar Club. He had one of his 5 ponies for sale, and within 2 days the car was mine. I had a 1969 royal maroon Mustang Convertible. Life was good. To make the car more useable I had power breaks installed in the 1st month at a Mustang specialist, along with a modern radio/cd player. I made my first trip up to the Netherlands to show off the new purchase to some friends and upon my return disaster struck in the form of a 1987 sibling, a frontal encounter with an old Escort.

The accident required a new fender, grill, headlamps, bumper, many associated parts and a partial re-spray. I was now thankful that I had chosen a car with most parts still available and good specialist support. The silver lining of the accident was that my insurance company put in a contact with probably the best Mustang specialist outside the USA: Alpha Cars, which happens to be located in Antwerpen where I was living at that moment.

Since the car was going to be in the shop for repairs we decided to use the opportunity to improve the car: revision of the steering, revision of the water pump, new wooden grant steering wheel, replacing seals to solve all little oil leaks (people claim that oil leaks are part of owning a Mustang, but this does not need to be the case) new tires, Petronix ignition upgrade, Koni adjustable shocks, Global West subframe connectors, and taking care of a rattling window. The objective was to ensure that the car would easily drive back and forth from Antwerpen Belgium to St. Tropez in the south of France.

In the spring we made some trips to Maastricht, Brussels, and Bruges and fully enjoyed the car. I feel strongly that classic cars need to be used, not driven from show to show on a trailer. Many of my happiest moments are behind the wheel of my Mustang with the top down and the radio on.

So we set off in June with our two dogs to drive pony via stops in Paris, Beaune, Lyon, to St. Tropez. We alternated small roads through the wine country with stretches of Motorway to ensure that we made it to our destination in reasonable time. The car drove like a charm, easily keeping up with modern traffic at 80 miles per hour. The temperature gauge easily stayed below half even with the 90 degree whether in Southern France. The great weather also meant that we could keep the top down. My wife commented that I could not stop smiling, when driving the car.

(An American in Paris, on the Mediterranean coast, and in Reims)

The wonderful trip made clear that we are not finished with the car, since I added air conditioning, reupholstered the interior and installed bigger speakers needed at full speed with the top down. Oh, and by the way, the only damage we sustained in our 2500 mile trip was a burnt out light bulb. Not bad for a 36 year old.

The car in now back in Atlanta, GA. Home in the US where it belongs. It has come out of retirement and now serves as my daily driver. Why not smile every day on the way to work!


In 1973, my father was the Coach of a YMCA Basketball team filled with neighborhood kids - “The Red Rockets.”

We practiced at the Decatur First United Methodist Church gymnasium. My father would pick up most of the team and drive 5-6 kids in his 1965 Chevrolet Corvair. Most of the time, people who were not familiar with the Corvair’s rear engine/front trunk layout, were shocked to see the “Coach” unload the entire team, then reach into the front (where the engine was supposed to be) and pull out a bag of basketballs, clip boards, cones, and even a couple of water coolers.

His Corvair was a darker shade of blue, and I remember every aspect of that car to this day.

I always said “When I grow up, I am going to have a Corvair like my dad’s.” Well, I got older, procured my own 1966 Chevrolet Corvair, but I still haven’t grown up. I am still the little kid riding up with my dad to basketball practice.


The first car my father bought brand new when he got out of the Army was a ’69 Oldsmobile Cutlass S. Dad passed that car onto my brother who drove it all through high school and wrecked it twice. Each time we rebuilt it and it kept going. When my brother would leave the car at home overnight I would take advantage of the extra key dad kept and take the car cruising with my friends. To this day my brother still doesn’t know why the car always had more gas in the tank when he came to pick it up. Eventually dad sold the car and I missed my chance to have it.

Years later I found this ’69 Delta 88 in the exact color combination that my dad’s car had been! Even stranger my dad’s car was originally gold with a cream interior and later painted metallic red with a black vinyl top and black dyed interior, just like this Delta 88. A close inspection of the Delta 88 revealed the exact same color change history. Upon seeing it dad commented that if he had the money back then he would have bought a Delta 88 instead, but the Army didn’t pay that well. It was wrecked and a mess but I rebuilt it in my parent’s basement. Dad helped me chase down all the parts I needed to get the car back into shape.

I had planned to use the car in my wedding but a drunk driver put my wrenching abilities on hold. Dad knew I had hoped to have the car finished so he called in a favor with an old hot rod friend and got the car painted. I was thrilled and worked harder than ever to recuperate enough to drive the car on my wedding day. My brother chauffeured my bride and me from the church to the reception but I drove the car away for my honeymoon. My wife jokes with her friends that she married me for my car.

Recently dad and I went to a classic British car show. His first car was a ’57 MGA that he bought after convincing my grandmother to co-sign for the loan. I haven’t found a suitable MGA yet but I’m still looking. I hope to some day put my dad behind the wheel of the car he had to sell because Uncle Sam sent him off to war. My father isn’t an emotional man but he speaks fondly of owning that MGA.


When I was in high school back in the 60's I saved up my paper route money and bought a 1959 Austin-Healey Bug-Eye Sprite. It was bright red and just the car for a young buck like me. One catch, all I had was $500 and the Sprite didn’t run. So my Dad pulled me home on the end of a rope. Well, during the summer we got the Sprite running, but the rope pulling routine went on quite regularly. In fact we got so good at it we could cross town without a jerk or snap.

One time when Dad was towing me I saw something very strange. A wheel and tire exactly like the Sprite’s rolled passed me on the right. Turns out it was my wheel and the car balanced just fine on the remaining three.

Of course I sold the Sprite after college. But six years ago I found another red Bug-Eye Sprite and me and my grandson enjoy many hours cruisin’ and listening to the driving tunes of the 60's.


If Wikipedia would have been around back in 1985, we might have known what jewel we had on our hands. We might have realized that our 1958 Chrysler 300D was one of only 191 convertibles ever produced. And with this knowledge maybe we'd still have the car today instead of trading it for a fun, but infinitely less valuable car.

Our white 300D had been in our family as long as I can remember. My grandparents were big Chrysler/Dodge fans and had many over the years. I distinctly riding out to surveying jobs with my grandpa in the orange and brown Dodge Power Wagon, and coming back to a driveway stuffed with the aforementioned 300D and a 300K. I'm pretty sure there were some more in the mix.

Some time around 1984-85 grandpa, or Papa as we called him, decided the 300D had spent enough time suffering through Plattsburgh, NY winters and that a convertible like that needed to retire down in Orlando, FL where we were living at the time. So he drove it down. Now I can't say I remember a lot of stories about his drive down, but I do know that if you put a 65-70 year old guy in a 27 year old car and put him on the road for at least 24 hours, things will happen. What I do know is that somehow he made it! By himself! I hope he took a plane home.

Having that big ole convertible in Orlando was a teenaged boys dream. That big FirePower Hemi put out 390hp and was more than enough to push you back in your seat. My dad as the proud new owner of it was hesitant to let 15 year old me drive it, but while Papa was still there HE let me get behind the wheel. The power that car had is something I've been unable to find. Yet.

After about a year or so my dad decided it was time to tackle that NY rust. That was basically the beginning of the end. In order to save money, he hooked up with a rather shady restorer. As the pictures show, the car went from looking good, to looking like a wreck. The plus side is that we did win the "Unrestored" Division at a Chrysler Car Show in Daytona. I think they might have made that up out of pity.

The car turned into a money pit. Every week it needed a new part, a new body panel and had been under construction for almost a year. At some point, not knowing the intrinsic value of the car, my dad decided to get out of the pit and traded "up" to a 1967 Firebird. I hated to see the old car go...but boy, was I ready to take that Firebird for a spin!


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