Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
March 5, 2012

Every year when I fire up the laptop to write Mustang Monthly's coverage of the Ford & Mustang Round-Up, traditionally held the first weekend after New Year's at the Silver Springs theme park in Florida, I vow to avoid the subject of weather. After all, early January weather in north-central Florida is fickle—it could be hot with threat of a winter sunburn or freezing with sleet or snow, as demonstrated a couple of years ago when hardy participants built snowmen for photos in front of their Florida license plates. Once again, however, I find myself writing about the weather because, for this past January's event, it was perfect.

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So there, I've gotten the weather report out of the way. Although I do have to add that the beautiful weather, with just enough cloud cover to prevent premature 2012 sunburns, contributed to the excellent turn-out, with nearly 1,000 Mustangs and Fords jamming every nook and cranny of the Silver Springs park. As always, host National Parts Depot picked up the tab for the first 1,000 pre-entries, a perk that includes two passes to Silver Springs and its famous glass-bottom boats. In addition to the fabulous cars, a number of companies that supply parts to NPD were on hand, including Flowmaster, Eaton Detroit Springs, TMI, Classic Instruments, and Stainless Steel Brakes. Representatives from Heacock Classic Insurance were also there to discuss classic car insurance with attendees.

We always discover interesting Mustangs at the Ford & Mustang Round-Up. With this year's coverage, we're taking a little different slant with "mini-features" about four Mustangs with interesting stories. Hope you enjoy it.

Bought, Sold, Bought Again

In 1965 while serving in the military, Humphrey D. "Smitty" Smith purchased a brand-new '65 Mustang fastback in California. For the next six years, the Mustang served as Smitty's regular transportation as military duty took him around the country and on a three-year stint to Germany where he frequently drove the fastback on the Autobahn. In 1971, Smitty returned to the U.S. and sold his Mustang.

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In recent years, Smitty has found himself engrossed in the Mustang hobby after acquiring an early convertible and a hardtop. It eventually occurred to him that he should try to find his old fastback. Using the VIN from the Owner's Card that he had kept and a favor from a friend in law enforcement, Smitty was able to track down his original Mustang, locating it in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2007, he bought the car back, returning it to his current hometown of Summerton, South Carolina. Over the past several years, "Kermit" has been restored by Gene and Scotty Turner, who added a few upgrades like styled steel wheels, Pony interior, and Hi-Po engine dress-up.

Canadian King Cobra

It was hard to miss Tony Thompson's '78 King Cobra when he passed us on a four-lane section of highway during the Pony Trails cruise. When we chatted with Tony at the show, we learned that his Mustang II was original sold in Canada, so the odometer shows 87,769 kilometers (approximately 53,000 miles). Tony has owned the King Cobra for 12 years. It remains in mostly survivor condition.

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Body-in-White Cobra

At first glance, Steve Erickson's Performance Red Mustang looks like a very nice '00 Cobra R, only missing its tell-tale rear spoiler. In reality, Steve built his R look-alike from a body-in-white.

Using his connections from having worked at Ford and Steeda Autosports, Steve acquired the '04 body-in-white in 2005. From there, he began collecting parts to build the Mustang into a functioning street Cobra R. As Steve points out, he used all factory parts, right down to the 385hp 5.4L DOHC engine. It took him 18 months to get the car registered with the Florida DMV as a '11 Mustang Cobra.

If you're wondering about the missing rear wing, Steve has an explanation: "I didn't want it to be an exact copy of the Cobra R because I didn't want to disrespect the 300 people who bought real ones."

520,000 Miles and Counting

In 1973, Don Stehle bought a used '67 Mustang convertible as an "$800 clunker" shortly after graduating from college. A year later, someone backed into the driver's door and the insurance company painted the entire car. Don remembers thinking, "It looked pretty good at that point, so I decided to keep it another year."

And that year turned into year after year until now, afternearly four decades, Don has spun the odometer to 520,000 miles, helped by a number of cross-country trips. He almost sold the Mustang in 1988 with 380,000 miles, but he couldn't find a replacement car that he liked. He then discovered the companies that specialize in vintage Mustang parts. "They could supply all the parts that I didn't think existed anymore," Don explains. "So for a lot less money (than buying another car), I saved my everyday car and realized that I could probably keep my Mustang forever!"

Not your typical Mustang enthusiast, Don's convertible has been his only car since 1973. He just recently discovered the relaxing fun found at Mustang shows. Over the years, Don has made some upgrades, including a Pioneer sound system with AM/FM/CD and Sirius satellite radio.

Now retired in Melbourne, Florida, Don continues to drive the Mustang nearly every day, although the Florida heat has convinced him to look into the installation of a Classic Auto Air A/C system so he won't mind driving in the summer, adding, "I'm looking forward to the next 500,000 miles."