Tom Wilson
June 1, 2013
Photos By: John Heermann

"The trunk lid was a head scratcher. Eventually I had to modify the trunk jamb to mate with the rear window. I ended up de-skinning the outer portion of the decklid skin from the inner structure to mod the structure; I had to add at the front and both sides. Also I had to flatten it out on the back because the '69 is flatter than the '68, which is curved."

And so inch-by-inch it went. "By June it started looking like a car," and the idea firmed that the Mustang should go on display at the SEMA Show in November. John's response to the pressure was to let go of whatever was left of life other than his Mustang. "By June I gave up everything social. I just worked on the farm all day, then I'd go to the shop. In July I started sleeping in the shop; I slept on a creeper for two weeks. My parents were wondering what I was doing or where I was. My dad ordered an old army cot."

John didn't finish metal work—including lengthening the stock aluminum hood—until the first week in September. The car was still in bare metal and he still hadn't touched the thing that started it all, the taillights. They were built by cutting '05 taillights into about 20 pieces and gluing them back together. Luckily, the stock '11 wiring harness, which had been unwrapped but never cut, simply plugged into the housings.

By early October the bolt-on engine parts arrived—John fell asleep on the creeper while installing the headers—and the Bassani exhaust was hand-crafted to fit the altered rear trunk pan. For the SEMA Show, the car was sprayed in red primer—John hadn't decided on a final color—and it was presented to the world that way. We photographed the car in Lincoln, Nebraska, after the SEMA Show while it was still in its primary form.

Frankly, we're in awe of John's accomplishment. Completely rebuilding a body in steel is an incredible volume of work—and difficult, skillful duty at that. Then there is the eye to see what the finished creation will look like and the guts needed to actually make it happen. True, John had Doug's experience to guide and help when needed, but the concept and execution are very much all John's, as Doug will be the first to tell you.

With his life's work—to date—sold, John is still farming and working on custom cars in the Denver area. He's established a website,, where you can order your own "Reversion," but mainly he's, "just recuperating." But not to worry, "My mind is always working," says John.

And we're sure there'll be another custom coming soon. We can hardly wait.

More Than Blue

In 2012 John took time to fix the things that bothered him about Reversion but almost no one else could see. He regapped every seam on the car, built a new aluminum hood, finished the quarter windows, fabricated new oval exhaust tips, changed the wheel and tire package, and painted the car a custom blue. His last mod was custom taillight bezels, mocked in cardboard and whittled via CNC, then installed immediately before the car went into the trailer and off to the Barrett-Jackson auction. Unfortunately there are no photos of them.

With no reserve, John's "Reversion Mustang" sold for a gut-wrenching $61,600 on the evening of January 17, 2013, to a couple who liked the car's look and color but didn't understand just how custom it was until the next morning when John was able to give them the story.

If anything, the auction experience highlights the downside of creating timeless works of art. They are so subtle in a sea of over-hyped, over-styled vehicles that they're difficult to appreciate at first. It's too easy to walk by Reversion at a car show and think, Nice Mustang, then keep on walking, not comprehending just how unique its lines are and the work required to realize them in steel. But Reversion is a car that shapes opinion in the long term—it's already been taken by Ford's design center—and its appreciation will only grow and last for decades to come.