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Grandma's Hand-Me-Down 1966 Ford Mustang Hi-Po GT Fastback with "270 Air"
Rare Finds: Hidden Treasures
“I got my grandma’s Mustang,” is how the electronic communication began from Mason Straub to Dan Bailey. Dan was a little busy that day, but he told Mason he would get by tomorrow and look the car over. “I messaged him back and asked if the Mustang was a coupe or a fastback. He said it was a fastback,” Dan explained. Apparently, Mason did not realize the significance of the car, and neither did his grandma, Ann Wensel. “We just knew we needed to move it out of the shed ’cause that was falling in and he was interested in it, been looking at it. I told him if he wanted to work on it he could have it, better than just letting it sit,” Ann told us.
Dan, true to his word, drove over to Fairfax, Missouri, the next day, a Sunday. Mason led him to a Tahoe Turquoise 1966 Mustang fastback sitting in his backyard. The body definitely needed rear quarter-panels, and the floorpans were probably rusted out as well. But the body had GT side stripes and foglights in the grille. Could this car be a factory GT? Underhood Dan spotted a Holley four-barrel carburetor on an aluminum Cobra intake manifold. So far, the car could just be a modified. Then, Dan checked out the VIN and spotted the infamous “K” in the fifth digit, signifying, of course, a factory 289 high-performance small-block V-8. Dan said, “Oh my god, do you know what you have here? This isn’t just a plain old Mustang.”
Dan wanted to impress upon the youngster the significance of this Mustang, lest Mason sell the car for a few hundred bucks not knowing what he had. Dan is a super Mustang enthusiast. Readers might recall a Rare Finds column on the 1969 Mach 1 he pulled out of a barn last year. Dan lives in Rock Port, Missouri, a little spot in the road off I-29, an hour and a half north of Kansas City. There, Dan has converted an old service station into servicing his obsession for vintage American iron. Every fourth Friday of the month he hosts a cruise night there and people drive to the station from miles around. One of them was 15-year-old Mason and his father. So, when Mason got the Mustang, he gave his friend Dan a call.
We asked Ann how she came to own this car. She remembered the exact date of the purchase: July 23, 1969. Ann had just graduated from high school and taken a job in Saint Jo. But, she had been looking at the Mustang at H&H Wright Motors Corporation in Tarkio, Missouri. On each trip home on weekends, she would drive by the car lot, look at the Mustang, and say to herself, “That’s my car! That’s my car!” Then one day she came home for a visit and the Mustang was gone. She was pretty upset, but got the surprise of her life when her mom and dad came home from the grocery store driving the Mustang.
At the time, Ann did not know the car was a Hi-Po. She said, “I just drove it. I didn’t know anything about that.” She does recall the car had, according to her father, “270 air; that’s two windows down at 70 mph.” The car cost $1,450 and Ann still has the original sales slip. After she got married and left home, she handed it down to her siblings but the title remained in her name. Two brothers and one sister all drove the Mustang, racking up 143,000 miles when her dad parked the car. “I don’t know what was wrong with it. Dad just parked it in the shed and told me he couldn’t afford to fix it.” Apparently, Ann has handed down the car again, this time to her grandson. Mason looks upon the car as a long-term project. One of these days he may drive the Hi-Po to one of Dan’s cruises.