Jim Smart
January 9, 2017

The sound of a vintage Autolite starter resonates throughout the garage of this cozy Belmont, California, neighborhood. With a light puff of condensation and unburned hydrocarbon emissions from a pair of GT exhaust trumpets, a 289 V-8 sporting one million miles roars to life through a throaty pair of Cadillac-spec mufflers. Victor Anderson’s 1966 Mustang hardtop in rich Wimbledon White with red accent stripes has just begun its next million miles.

This is a classic Mustang that has been driven more than one million miles in 50 years. “I drive a lowly 1966 Mustang with a 289 V-8. I’ve been driving this classic car daily to work in San Francisco and all around California since 1988. I drive 25,000 miles a year,” Victor Anderson says. “My father, Allan Anderson, purchased this Ford dealer trade-in back in 1972 and drove it daily until he gave it to me in 1988.”

Like a lot of people cruising past Town Ford in Redwood City, California, in the early ’70s, the Mustang caught Allan’s eye. He stopped by and spoke with a salesman who said the car was “priced right” at $1,100. However, Allan couldn’t help but notice the car had a lot of miles for its age. No deal.

Allan walked out Town Ford deciding not to buy the Mustang. However, he never forgot the raw lust toward the white Mustang V-8 hardtop. He wanted that car. After a lot of haggling with Town Ford, Victor’s father drove off the lot in the Mustang for $900, and it has been in the Anderson family ever since.

This is a C-code 289-2V V-8 hardtop bucked at Ford’s Metuchen, New Jersey, assembly plant and sold new by an Atlanta, Georgia, Ford dealer on March 15, 1966, to a traveling salesman who lived in Huntsville, Alabama, and drove cross-country to earn his living from sea to shining sea. He drove the Mustang everywhere he conducted business for seven years. In 1972, while he was in California on business, he traded the Mustang in at Town Ford in Redwood City not far from where Victor’s father lived and worked.

Allan drove and enjoyed the Mustang for 18 years. At the time, he realized Victor was the only sibling to have shown interest in the Mustang, which made the decision of who to give it to easier. Victor’s son, Spencer, 15, is driven to school daily in this car. Victor’s wife, Joanne, calls the Mustang “Victor’s girlfriend.”

Victor Anderson has orchestrated an Interior Décor Group package satisfying for the daily commute to San Francisco. These are TMI Sports Seats with an over-the-hump console in rich red vinyl. Not only do they look sharp, they’re quite comfortable for a long drive. That’s original Ford dealer-installed air conditioning.
LED instrument bulbs have improved nighttime instrumentation by a wide margin. These are super-bright LED lamps that bring a dated five-dial cluster into the 21st century.
Ford’s 1965-66 Interior Décor Group also known as the Pony Interior. What makes this one unique is real walnut veneer, instead of a vinyl laminate across the instrument cluster and glove compartment door.

“My father passed in 2006,” Victor says. “He knew I still drove and worked on the Mustang he had purchased all those years ago. My father was the one who taught my brother and I how to work on cars. I was always working on my first car, a 1975 AMC Gremlin X.” Victor’s dad took exceptional care of the Mustang for many years before passing it to Victor.

After being driven that many miles in heavily congested San Francisco it inevitably had several accidents, some of them bad enough that the car was considered totaled by the insurance company. The Andersons weren’t about to give up on a family friend, though, after that accident. The Mustang stayed and has endured the times through all kinds of adversity. Victor commutes to San Francisco’s twisty Lombard Street, and he has been doing it for 29 years. The car has dodged many a bullet during its 50 years of daily driving. It has been rear ended, been hit head-on, and even had some creep kick his front fender in just out of spite. Through it all, Victor has never considered letting the car go.

“Five years ago, the Mustang was rear-ended by a Toyota doing 45 mph when I was stopped at a traffic light. The car sustained $15,000 in damage,” Victor says. The installation of Tank Armor to protect the fuel tank along with subframe connectors underneath to help stiffen the body are what saved the car—and Victor. What’s more, Victor drove the smashed up Mustang 30 miles home from the accident site. More remarkable is the car’s original 1972 vintage rear black and yellow California license plate, which was knocked off in the collision. Victor and a buddy went back to the accident scene and found the crumpled license plate. Victor restored the plate and reinstalled it on the car. (Check out the plate. Do you see any damage?)

When we shot Victor’s Mustang the first time in June 2010, it had 913,000 miles on the original factory speedometer. It had rolled over to zero nine times. The car’s original 289 has been overhauled every 250,000 miles. At the time of our original shoot more than six years ago, it had motored 130,000 miles since its last overhaul.

People ask Victor how a million-mile Mustang could look so good. His answer is always regular preventative maintenance and care. The car was down for two years in 2012 and 2013 getting a major sheet metal rework and paint job at Dino’s Auto Body in San Carlos, California. Dino’s opted for new old stock Ford sheet metal along with hand-working the steel to minimize the use of body filler. Victor’s exceptional attention to detail is why the Mustang looks this good at one million miles.
Ever seen a 289 with a million miles on the block and heads? Common’s Auto in South San Francisco has taken on the responsibility of keeping this 289 going. Aside from an upgrade to four-barrel Autolite 4100 carburetion in 2004, Victor’s 289 remains box stock, including a flat-tappet cam. It has been overhauled three times—in 1980, 1993, and 2003. Deep inside the deep-blue iron are .060-inch oversize cylinder bores, which means Victor has reached the limits of a small-block Ford. An Autolite 4100 carburetor and Pertronix ignition consistently deliver.
The Mustang’s accent stripes are taped on in case someone decides to ding the Mustang with a car door or heavy purse. Were the accent stripes painted on, Victor adds, it would be challenging to repair them. We like the styled steel wheels wrapped in Coker redline radials, which offer better handling for the daily commute to twisty Lombard Street. On the ground are disc brakes with Fly-Ford Racing control arms and springs. Body stiffening comes from subframe connectors, which have made a huge difference in ride quality and structural integrity.

More remarkable to this story is the endurance of the Mustang’s original C4 Cruise-O-Matic and 2.80:1 8-inch rear end. Both are original to the car. The rear end has been rebuilt a couple of times, as has the transmission. Victor’s maintenance regiment has been to replace and rebuild parts of the car as they have worn out. He keeps a rolling maintenance program that has kept the Mustang running like new since his father purchased it 45 years ago.

Victor believes you don’t just unload a car when it wears out, especially when it belonged to your father. “Breakdowns have been extremely rare,” Victor says. “Maybe every three years or so I’ve wound up on the roadside. I think nothing of driving the Mustang on trips for work, which is a matter of routine for the Mustang.”

This man gets his share of scrutiny from purists at shows and cruises over some of the modifications made to the Mustang. It has dealer-installed Ford air conditioning, which located the compressor on the right hand side of the engine compartment. The unusual compressor bracket sports a Ford part number. The Mustang has a period cruise control system his father installed in the ’70s. We’re talking convenience items that have made the car more enjoyable to drive.

To look at this vintage black and yellow California license plate from the early ’70s you’d never know it was smashed and left for dead in a bad accident many years ago. Victor recovered the plate and gave it new life.
Victor equipped the Mustang with Ford script halogen sealed beams from Scott Drake Muscle Cars for better night visibility.
Here’s Victor’s twin brother Vincent in 1975 next to the Mustang in a rare period photo when the car wasn’t even 10 years old.

Victor has personalized the Mustang to his own tastes with an engine dress-up package, custom exhaust system, TMI’s striking Sport Seats, Gear Vendors overdrive, LED instrument lights, Tank Armor and a steel rear seat divider, Styled Steel wheels with Coker redline radials, headlight warning buzzer, rear window defroster, Edelbrock adjustable rate shocks, Fly-Ford Racing Blueprint control arms, a remote trunk release, real walnut veneer, Dynamat sound deadening, custom carpeted package shelf and trunk area, and a host of other items designed to improve the driving experience. He will tell you straight up he has personalized the Mustang to satisfy himself and no one else.

Victor reflects with emotion on his years, and his father’s, with the Mustang. He tells Mustang Monthly, he has owned two cars in his lifetime: the 1975 Gremlin X, which was stolen long ago, and the Mustang. He has been driving the Mustang for most of his adult life. When people stop and ask Victor about it there’s always a story to share. People remember the Mustang they once owned that got away. They fondly remember a sibling or a neighbor with a Mustang. Most are stunned when they learn Victor’s Mustang is a million-mile driven daily ride.

Although Victor’s name is on the Mustang’s California title, he sees himself more as a steward to the car’s legacy of longevity and a commitment to his father’s memory. Due to Victor’s tenacity, talent, and love for the Mustang it has lasted 50 years and traveled more than a million miles. And if Victor has anything to do with it, he and the Mustang will be cruising buddies for a long time to come.