June 26, 2013

This is a story that will leave you crying in your Chardonnay. By sheer dumb luck, Seattle's Don Rutzer spotted a Craigslist ad for a '66 GT hardtop and was the first and only person to view the listing, mainly because Don promptly purchased the low-mileage GT for $11,500. Close inspection revealed an original car with a Los Angeles DSO 71 sales district code.

Don tells us, "It was a genuine factory GT, rust-free with many original parts and assembled during the last week of '66 production at San Jose."

Don adds that the car was purchased new in Lynnwood, California, between Los Angeles and Long Beach, in September 1966 by a Margaret Johnson, who put 2,000 miles on the GT, which is all that's known about the car's beginnings. The Mustang came to Washington state in 1997 with only 57,000 miles on the odometer.

When Don bought the car in 2005, it was all there and in restorable condition, making his purchase exceptional for both the money and time he would have to invest. He did notice the absence of the Thermactor smog pump system, which would have been original to the car but apparently removed by a previous owner.

Don tells us that his greatest challenge has been deciding what to restore and what to leave alone, a long-time issue for vintage Mustang owners with similar low-mileage original Mustangs. Like Don says, "It's only original once."

As one example, original upholstery with worn stitching can be restitched by a seasoned upholstery shop. Fortunately for Don, the GT's upholstery and stitching remained solid so he made the decision to leave well enough alone. Beneath the hood, Don made an important decision to leave the original 225-horse 289 engine alone except for cosmetic detailing. However, a previous owner had damaged the original Vintage Burgundy enamel by installing aftermarket side moldings, so Don repainted the exterior in a two-stage urethane clearcoat to make the car presentable for regional and national shows. To Don's credit, his Mustang has performed well in Mustang Club of America judged competition.

The '66 Mustang GT was inspired by Ford's GT40 that was dominating LeMans and other world racing venues at the time. Ford took this winning spirit to its showrooms. And nearly 50 years later, the early GTs continue to be inspiring rides.

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