Jim Smart
December 27, 2016

Alberta Veenkers can easily be described as radiant, effervescent, full of life, and endlessly passionate about classic Mustangs. Many years before she met her husband Eric, she lived the original madness known as Mustang Mania in the 1960s. Unless you were living on Mars from 1964-1970, you understand the axis-tipping experience Mustang was 50 years ago. Ford dealers were overwhelmed, sex was halted, school work interrupted, television channels changed, sick days from work, and lifestyles changed overnight.

Overnight, there were new Mustangs all up and down the block in every neighborhood. Shopping centers and movie theater parking lots were full of them. They rolled out of car washes and drive-ins one after the other. People bought new Mustangs for reasons they couldn’t fathom even if they didn’t need a second or third car. The elderly bought new Mustangs to feel young again. Young people snapped them up just to be seen in one. Ford dealers couldn’t get enough of them.

Mustang culture was born the minute Ford’s ad agency J. Walter Thompson began running advertisements and commercials early in 1964. Mustang was the car America and the world couldn’t wait for. Orders for these cars stretched back months. Ford originally planned for 100,000 units and wound up building 600,000. The original game plan was for two plants—Dearborn, Michigan and San Jose (Milpitas), CA. Mid-way through the 1965 model year Ford had to add Mustang to Mercury Comet production at Ford’s Metuchen/Edison, New Jersey assembly plant to meet demand.

Alberta’s 1970 Mustang SportsRoof in Wimbledon White can easily be called a showroom floor traffic simulator on a par with the sensational 1966-1968 Sprints, which sold so well and generated a lot of showroom chatter. Sunland Ford in the Victor Valley of Southern California slapped laser strips on these rides and sold them like hot cakes.

By 1970, Mustang mania was beginning to wind down. Competition from Chevrolet, Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth, AMC, and even Ford’s own Mercury division put a sizable dent in Mustang sales. A changing culture—shifting priorities—sent new car buyers to other markets. Baby boomers were finishing college and starting families. The world was changing.

Alberta Veenker was newly married—just 20—and in the winter of 1969-1970 ripe for the picking if you were a Ford dealer looking for buyers. Sunland Ford in the Victor Valley of Southern California’s high desert, like most Ford dealers in those days, had a lot full of plain Jane six-cylinder and small V-8 Mustang hardtops, SportsRoofs, and convertibles. These were simple base sticker priced ponies poised to sell. Ford had proven those springtime Sprint special price promo Mustangs sold well in 1966-1968. Sunland Ford understood the emotional eyewash of striking low-buck ride at “must sell now” pricing even though Ford had dropped the Sprint program. It slapped cool Torino style laser stripes on some of its budget priced rides and they sold like hot cakes.

Alberta’s first husband brought his car in to Sunland Ford for service when he spotted the redesigned 1970 Mustang on the lot. He thought Alberta would like it. “It was love at first sight,” Alberta tells Mustang Monthly, “we went to the bank to get the $500 down payment and headed back to Sunland Ford.” Alberta goes on to say, “There was this couple who had been looking at my Mustang the day before who came back to buy. We had the $500. We got the car. This was my first car ever at just 20 years old. I was a Mustang owner!”

Sunland Ford opted for these groovy laser stripes for a select few Mustang promo sales stimulators in 1970. It is unknown how many were clad and sold. One thing is certain; the laser treatment brought buyers in.

Although the White 1970 SportsRoof with cool laser stripes had been purchased for Alberta’s use and enjoyment her husband wound up using it for the work commute, which lasted three years. The Mustang was driven 100 miles a day for the first three years before Alberta got it back. “When the gas crunch hit in the early 1970s, my husband started carpooling. One day, he was stranded at work so I went to pick him up. Radio and air conditioning were on. Just the Mustang and me cruising down a long stretch of isolated desert road. I look down at the speedometer and I’m doing 100 mph! I had to slow down to 70 mph and 70 felt so slow!”

With the car at three years old and her husband in a car pool, Alberta finally became more acquainted with her Mustang. She started selling Avon products. It wasn’t long before people around the high desert began to know the gal in the white Mustang with laser stripes as the Avon lady. “One time I was downtown and the main drag was closed off for a shooting of The Rockford Files. So—I had to go one street over and my Mustang wound up in the background in one episode.”

“The only time my Mustang has been outside the state of California was when my first husband was transferred to Lowery AFB, Colorado. With a good tune up she’d get 22-24 miles to a gallon at 75 mph on the trip up and back,” Alberta reflects, “Sunland Ford was having a charity car show and asked me if I’d bring my Mustang in to show it off. I parked next to a fully restored Mach 1 and people seemed more interested in my car than the Mach 1. Most wanted to know how I kept it so nice for so long. I told them if you take care of your car it will take care of you.”

Alberta tells us she has always been an advocate for the use of genuine Ford parts and has ever since the Mustang was new. As the car has aged finding genuine Ford parts has been more challenging for Alberta and Eric. She’s committed to genuine Ford parts where she can find them. There are still some Motorcraft parts available for her Mustang. Otherwise she’s had to opt for reproduction and good used parts.

Ford’s rugged and dependable 302ci V-8 with Autolite 2100 two-barrel carburetion has proven itself over more than four decades of dependable service. Eric decided to rebuild the 302 at 150,000 miles in the interest of durability.

One item in Alberta’s engine compartment got our attention at Mustang Monthly—the Judson Electronic Magneto ignition coil, which was installed by Alberta’s first husband when the car was new. Judson was a British company best known for superchargers and other high performance products back in the day. You could find these coils all day in your J.C. Whitney catalog and people ordered them all day long.

Although called a “magneto” the Judson Electronic Magneto was nothing of the sort. It was nothing more than a high energy ignition coil with cooling fins. Very popular with the VW crowd for its looks more than anything, the Judson Electronic Magneto was engine compartment eyewash 45 years ago. Still, this is a cool period performance piece from the sixties and seventies. Alberta has never had the heart to take it off because it has been there since the beginning.

Alberta and her husband, Eric, lovingly take care of the Mustang as it approaches the half century mark with more than 200,000 miles on the odometer. Underhood is Ford’s 302-2V small-block V-8 and C4 Select-Shift automatic along with 2.79:1 conventional cogs. At 150,000 miles Eric treated the 302 to a complete rebuild using Ford parts. Both the C4 and 8-inch axle are factory original and untouched, which is a remarkable statement for fierce Ford reliability.

When Alberta and Eric were experiencing drivability issues with the 302 they looked to Marvin McAfee of Marvin’s Custom Engines (MCE) down in Los Angeles to take care of their ailing Autolite distributor. Marvin rebuilt and curved the distributor for the kind of driving Alberta does. Eric reinstalled the distributor and timed the ignition. Pony Carburetors, which is gone now, rebuilt the Autolite 2100 carburetor, which has made her Mustang thrilling to drive. Operation has been crispy and buttery smooth ever since.

We like the Mustang’s Ginger Vinyl striped cloth interior, which added pizzazz to an otherwise vanilla interior. Eric and Alberta had to restore the interior, which suffered from the heat and ozone of the southwest.

Because the desert climate is so hard on rubber, vinyl, and plastic soft parts, Alberta and Eric have had to invest in a new Ginger Vinyl/Stripped Cloth interior and dash pad, which could not be avoided. In the early 1980s Alberta replaced the original factory AM radio with a Panasonic AM/FM cassette stereo system, which has performed flawlessly for 33 years. She has the factory AM radio put away for safe keeping.

Another huge challenge for Alberta and Eric has been tires. White sidewall radial tires are becoming harder to come by in recent years because automobiles originally equipped with them are fading away. They’ve looked to local tire dealers for solutions but that gets tougher all the time. Eventually, they will have to look to specialty shops like Coker Tire for original equipment style white sidewall radials.

Alberta is a reminder for all of us why we own and drive classic Mustangs. Because these cars with all their quirks remain great fun to own, admire, and enjoy. For Alberta, each and every day behind the wheel is a reminder of why she bought this car to begin with—and why Mustang mania is as alive as ever.

Talk about sharp? Ford’s striking Mustang SportsRoof for 1970 with a splash of laser graphics. Eric and Alberta had these stripes reproduced when the Mustang was repainted years back. The side molding has been on the car since new.

Mustang Quick Shot

* 1970 Mustang SportsRoof
* Wimbledon White exterior
* Ginger Vinyl Striped Cloth Interior
* Panasonic AM/FM Cassette Stereo System (1981)
* P215/70R14 Radials
* Deluxe Full Wheel Covers
* Four Wheel Manual Drum Brakes
* 302-2V V-8
* Judson Electronic Magneto Coil
* C4 Select-Shift Automatic
* 2.79:1 Conventional 8-inch Axle

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