COAL: 1966 Mustang Convertible – Good Times With Lady Luck


Sometimes you just get lucky. Around the end of my second year of college a friend of my father decided that his 1966 289 Mustang Convertible just didn’t fit his lifestyle anymore. In a less-than-agonizing break from family tradition, I adopted this non-orphan, highly conventional automobile. The 1969 Ford Cortina GT was running ok, but if there was ever a time in life to own a Mustang convertible, this was certainly it.

I had a part time job and decided that a set of F60 tires on Crager “mag” wheels was  a great way to really start being more conventional. The price was right and the bolt pattern fit, so after a few hasty (and inaccurate, as it turned out) measurements regarding the wheel wells, an hour in the driveway produced a really (at least in my opinion) fine looking vehicle. This impression, however, did not survive the first turn around the block. The clearance on the rear wheel wells was such that any upward motion of the axle was peeling rubber off the sidewalls.

Thus began about one month of more small fender modifications, (I was lucky and never damaged the fender), and adding heavy duty shocks and bolt-on 750 lb overload springs in an effort to make this modification usable. While it finally stopped the tire destruction, the ride and handling were hardly worth the effort, and the onset of winter with the usual ice build up was reason enough to abandon the effort. Sold the Cragers, bolted on the original wheels and tires, and proceeded to simply enjoy a vehicle which has justly been considered an American classic just the way it arrived.

The whole story of the Ford Mustang has been gone over by better informed people than myself. The reputation for reliable build quality and steady performance by the 289 2V and C-4 automatic was upheld by the one I owned, and there was no servicing required during the years I had that car, aside from the regular oil changes and tune ups I could do in the driveway. The heater worked,the AM radio had enough selections to avoid boredom if the 8-track failed, and the beach was about an hour away–less, if you included the 8-foot sailboat I owned on a nearby lake.

Mustang Ford Convertible

The 289 was an excellent engine. The solid lifter modification was good for 271 BHP but mine would never be worked that hard. When the time came to go to graduate school, I knew that this vehicle would be ruined in the area around Philadelphia I would be living in, and my finances were going to be too tenuous to permit it to be maintained properly. So I quietly turned it over to my  brother and father, a sort of thanks to him and my brother with the hope that they had the same fun I did (they didn’t disappoint). Then it was down to the Philadelphia area with a Suzuki T-500 as my personal transport for the next three years. Sometimes you just get lucky.