Years later I find myself in California, with a cowboy boyfriend, a horse and a newly restored 67 Ford Mustang. Fancy that!
I've lived in Santa Barbara for about 17 years now and just a few years into my stay, I accidentally took a wrong turn while driving around. A turn that would forever change my life. On the street, parked and quiet, dressed in red, perfect interior and with original hubcaps, no rust and a big FOR SALE sign on it was what I gladly call "the best thing that ever happened to me".
Trunk being prepared
She quickly became my daily driver and when I got pregnant I simply bought a luggage rack and placed the foldable stroller on it. People thought I was nuts and I couldn't care less. My son is 9 today and needless to say my sweet Mustang got banged up a bit so when I lost my job I decided that it was her turn to get some much deserved attention. I was going to restore it myself. A friend offered up space in his shop but it wasn't without a raised eyebrow that he looked at me and said:
- You're going to do WHAT?
Tail light clean up!
The very next day I had all chrome taken off the car, and the following day I started braking the glaze with his sanding machine. My mechanic bought me a pair of pink Dickie's working overalls with my name embroidered and the boys had their fair share of sweet laughter. The pink didn't remain pink for a very long and if blood, sweat and tears means the same thing to you as it does to me - then you know what I'm talking about.
The back end lower part has a line that sort of separates the upper part from the lower part. When I started this project both sides had been covered with bondo and the shape was therefore round. I never even knew it should look like this.
Sanding the car down to metal in certain places, realizing that the curves on the cars backend were packed with bondo and therefore gone, hammering out dents, shaping it back with bondo, sanding, sanding, sanding, finding rust, cutting it out, welding the holes made for the luggage rack and the soft top. One day I sanded and repainted the grille and sound horns only to come back to the shop the next day and have the boys tell me I had to redo it:
- It's not good enough, they said.
If you look carefully though the gas tank you will see my first toolbox!
I nearly had one of my sons not so cheerful meltdowns but instead jumped into the borrowed Saturn and drove the 30 min back home feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed. On top of that the other side of my so called brain, the one that lacks compassion, started calling me Princess. And that was far more disturbing than the fact that I was told to redo something I spent a day doing. Back to the workshop and to welcoming arms of my friends that helped me tremendously throughout this whole restoring journey of mine. If it wasn't for them telling me about the five million different dimensions of tools that exist (I'm a millimeter and not an inch kind of a girl on top of that) or them buying sand for the sandblaster, helping me take the hood off and windows out, welding, and above all telling me when good wasn't good enough - my car would NOT look the same today.
Rust in the door
Feeling my car get smoother and smoother as I sanded, made me experience a calmness that I've had a hard time explaining. Perhaps the year of restoring my car helped me process my fathers passing, perhaps I needed an outlet for all the pain involved in not being able to let your feelings out completely - nor being able to put words to the drastic voids my heart has dealt with. He would have been proud of me - I know that. So the guys helping me actually did exactly what he would have done, leave me huffing and puffing until I collected myself.
What girls nails should look like more often!
Come time to paint the car my friends and I brought the long board sanding gear and went over the primered car. The stripes were being measured out but as I arrived the paint shop had messed up the dimensions. I knew the Le Mans stripes were carefully tapered to not create an optical illusion. I removed all their tape and since I knew that the only thing that was constant with the stripes was the 2 inch middle - I bought 2 inch scotch tape. It took us a few hours to get it right but man was I ever proud of our creation.
Again, the boys must have thought I was a big pain. The day my Mustang was done and I got to put the keys in the ignition and roll out - the first offer on the car came my way. I've had many - but will never sell as my son already claimed her loud and clear.
Sand blasting is much more fun than I thought it would be
To put the chrome back sparked many laughters in the shop as I had marked half the zip-lock bags with screws in Swedish. How on earth was I supposed to know what things were called??? The truth is I never lost a screw. They were all there and I knew exactly where they all went. Almost. With National Parts Depot and their Mustang bible/catalogue just around the corner - things went smooth.
A few weeks into driving she broke down in need of a new transmission so it was back to the shop. While there, awaiting my not so deep pockets to fill up, she got vandalized. A very unhappy man decided to slash all four brand new BF Goodrich tires, throw stones at it, driving it and denting the back panel under the bumper and hose water inside of the car. I found old moldy food, utensils, burned candles, and random stuff inside the car. My new toolbox was gone and so were my car keys with the remote that controls the automatic locks and alarm.
I cried and cried for days, wanted to throw fits but couldn't. Took a few days off and went to Arizona. Thought about humanity, what my family lost during the civil war in Bosnia and about what it felt like being interrogated at the border the last time I visited. Family members, land, house, cars, boat - all gone. My sanity, immediate family, living in California with a Mustang - still here. Perspective.
Front grille sanded and painted
Last week the insurance company informed me that I'm covered. She's getting painted as we speak, chrome and windows are off and I'm ready to go give the boys some more hell in my pink overalls!
When it comes to my sweet 67, 289, V8 Mustang - there has not been one time that I take her out for a ride that she doesn't make me extremely happy. Six well placed Danish speakers and a Nakamichi player connect to my iPhone (hidden in my glove compartment because I still have the original AM radio in the car) make for the best sounding Mustang around. Not to mention how thrilled I am to hear the navigator through my speakers when I drive these days.
When it comes to my Mustangs speed - well - let me put it this way; you know it's bad when the traffic school welcomes you - BACK!
Putting on a bumper by yourself is very tricky - I almost scratched the new paint job and would not recommend it to anyone!