Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
February 18, 2014

For some, a classic Mustang is a blank canvas; something that is just meant to be modified and personalized to one's taste. Others feel that a classic vehicle should remain a classic and they keep their cars fairly original (with maybe minor updates for safety and today's highway speeds). While it's a known fact that we lean toward the modified route around here (our magazine is not called Stock Mustangs & Fords after all), we can appreciate those that hold the originality torch high for those that appreciate what Ford originally produced.

Dirk Howard of Gilbert, Arizona, used to drag race back in the day but put up his helmet to raise a family. Now retired, he decided to look for a piece of American car history and preserve it as best as he could. He bought the '73 Mustang convertible seen here, a numbers matching Ram-Air car, several years ago from a person in Phoenix, though it spent most of its life back east in St. Louis.

"There were numerous things wrong with the car, but nothing terrible," Dirk explained. An ill-fitting replacement top, worn suspension bushings, a power steering leak, and a failure of the alternator and voltage regulator were many of the things Dirk mentioned. Due to the numbers matching and originality of the convertible, Dirk opted to rebuild components and save as many original parts as possible, instead of just throwing parts store reman hardware at it. He tackled the repairs on his numbers-matching drop-top and started enjoying the car.

With the mechanicals in order, Dirk decided to tackle the Mustang's exterior appearance with a complete cut-and-buff of the paint, which took three days by hand to bring back some much needed shine. He sent the stock aluminum mags off for polishing and restoration, and then he had the hood's faded black-out paint scheme stripped and repainted in white to match the convertible's top and interior and side stripes. While it's not a factory color, Dirk thought it would improve the look of the car. Apparently show judges agree, as he's won 47 awards at various car shows, including three concours shows in the three years he's had the car completed. "The most unusual award was a Chick Magnet award from the cheerleaders at a high school car show," Dirk stated. With the Mustang being a convertible, Dirk loves the opportunity to be involved in parade duty as well, including the annual Phoenix Christmas Parade.

Quick Specs
351 Cleveland 2V
FMX Select Shift automatic
8-inch rear axle
Traction-Lok differential
3.25 gears
NASA hood
Ram Air
Front disc brakes
AM/FM stereo radio
Center console
Deluxe interior
Air conditioning
Front spoiler

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