Eric English
January 29, 2014

The '65 Mustang fastback spread before you is remarkable in a number of ways. Number one, it's a beautiful restoration of the sportiest of early Mustang body styles. Two, its condition is all the more impressive considering its life story. And three, it's an original two-barrel 289 car that isn't hot rodded to the hilt and yet it hasn't always been this way.

"We've been familiar with this Mustang since the late 1960s," explains owner Joan Green. "My husband Bob and the owner back then both worked for a logging company in British Columbia, Canada. It's not a hot rod now, but it sure was then, with fender flares, big rear tires, and carburetors through the hood. Another co-worker, Hugh Smith, bought the car around 1979 and for a time dated the girl who lived across the street from us. We saw it over there all the time, and right away I told Hugh I'd like to buy it." Little did Joan know that 17 years would pass before opportunity came a-knockin'!

By the time Hugh Smith contacted the Greens about a possible purchase in 1996, the fastback was in pretty sad shape. You could say it suffered from a bad case of neglect, having been parked more or less permanently for at least ten years. "It was under Hugh's carport, with stuff piled all around," recalls Joan. "We'd drive by and it wasn't unusual to see a dog jump out and start barking. Several times I talked to him about selling, but he was always going to ‘fix it up.'"

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Thankfully Hugh finally saw the light, and Bob brought the Mustang to his shop to give it a thorough top to bottom review. Joan recalls that it needed a ton of work, for not only had it been "treated" to a variety of speed parts over the years, it had seen miles and miles of gravel logging roads in the Canadian backwoods. Joan figures Bob would have passed on the '65 had it not been for her long-standing interest. In the end, a deal was struck and the recently retired Bob had a new job to keep him busy.

As a former fleet mechanic for B.C. Forest Products, Bob wasn't deterred by the mechanical state of the Mustang. Surprisingly, he'd been able to fire up the derelict pony for the trip to his shop, although he later determined that the engine was a replacement '66 289. Bob managed to track down a correctly dated '65 engine, and set about rebuilding it and all other mechanical components including the original wide-ratio Top Loader. That's right, this one's an original four-speed car. Among millions of Mustangs produced, there are plenty of oddities, and we've always considered the two-barrel V8/four-speed pairing to be one of them. Why would someone bother with a performance oriented transmission and not step up to at least a 225-horse four-barrel 289?

By the time Hugh Smith contacted the Greens about a possible purchase in 1996, the fastback was in pretty sad shape.

Bob is surely an accomplished mechanic but not a body and paint guy. For that work, the Greens turned their '65 over to GT Collision, but not before immersing it in a giant chemical stripping tank. The shop was told to take their time, and after a year-plus the fastback emerged with new sheetmetal where necessary and all else thoroughly massaged. Topping it off is a gorgeous coat of single-stage PPG paint in the original Springtime Yellow.

Despite its past, Bob and Joan resisted any temptation to build this 2+2 as a heavy breather. Instead, it's virtually identical to the way it was sold nearly 50 years ago, including the styled steel wheels and Rally Pac. Surprisingly, a date coded two-barrel intake proved a difficult find, as was the '65's unique canister-style Carter fuel pump.

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In the years since completing the restoration in 1999, the Greens are now fully retired - meaning they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. In a Mustang context, this translates to nearly 30,000 miles behind the wheel of their '65 fastback, including a trip to the 2013 International Mustang Meet in Bozeman, Montana, as we were writing this story. With that kind of mileage, it's clear that Bob knew what he was doing on the mechanical end; six times a Mustang Club of America Concours Driven Gold winner is a tribute to the Green's fastidious maintenance regimen.

Yes, this 2+2 lived a hard life in earlier years, but it now gets all the loving treatment it deserves!