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A 1967 Ford Mustang 390 Convertible for Summer Time
With his wife’s OK, and a promise of her own Mustang, George Martin got the Clearwater Aqua 390 convertible he always wanted
When George Martin first started dating his wife Kathy, he received the normal interrogation from her family. Rightfully so, they wanted to know who their daughter was dating and were pleasantly surprised that she brought home a car guy. Her family was all loyal Ford fans, especially Mustangs, so he passed that part of the test. But he almost failed when they discovered he was a Chevy guy.
After a couple of years of ribbing from family and friends and a brand-new 1981 Camaro that just wouldn’t run right, he came to his senses with his first purchase of a 1967 Mustang fastback. This was the first of many, thanks to the encouragement of Kathy’s family, and he was finally fully welcomed into his new family.
With a fastback already in his stable, George began scanning the classifieds for the next project. While thumbing through Hemmings Motor News, he stumbled upon a 1967 390 convertible. According to the ad, all the metal work had been completed and it had a $3,400 price tag. As luck would have it, his brother-in-law Art lived near the car. It also just happened to be Art’s birthday that weekend, so George was going that way. He asked Kathy if it would be okay to go look at the car on the way home. She was less than enthusiastic, but agreed, regardless. With the build sheet and original engine included, he got it for $3,200 and arranged to pick it up for a week later.
George got home and did some research on the car, discovering that it was pretty rare. Only 940 390 four-speed convertibles had been produced this way. Plus, it was a G.T. Within a few seconds of getting out of the truck at the seller’s house, he put his money in the owner’s hands, trying to complete the deal as quickly as possible, so he wouldn’t change his mind. Loading the car onto the trailer posed its own unique challenges, though, as it was a basket O’Mustang. Because there was no front suspension on the car and not much of anything else, they used milk crates to drag the car up on the trailer.
Once the car was unloaded at home (thanks to George’s neighbor and his boys), and stuck in the garage, the neighbor asked if he was out of his mind. But George was happy with it, and that’s all that really matters. Within a few days, he did an inventory. Surprisingly, was only missing the original carburetor, intake, and transmission, but the rest was there. The original numbers-matching block and heads were still usable. The interior, however, was pretty trashed. So George began looking for a replacement.
He came across a 1967 289 hardtop not too far away and got it as a part’s car for $1,300. The plan was to take the best parts off and flip the rest. After making some money flipping the car, he was able to get the pieces he needed. And he realized with excitement that he would be able to do it again. He had the Mustang Bug: George bought about 15 other cars to either strip or flip just to build his car. His wife was far from thrilled about her yard looking like a junk car lot, so he decided it would be best to get one for his wife, too, to be able to justify his new hobby. He found a solid 1966 289 convertible that already had a restoration started. He told Kathy it was hers, and they’d fix it like she wants it, which took some of the pressure off George.
He got to a point where he had developed a reputation as “Mustang George,” and became the go-to guy in the New Hampshire area for Mustang parts and spending most of the next 10 years researching and tracking down parts for the car. Kathy would cringe every time the UPS man pulled up to the curb since it happened so often. In addition to the local classifieds, one of George’s favorite places to get parts was the Ford event at Carlisle. Over the years, he picked up quite a few N.O.S. pieces there. Some of his favorites were a rare turn-signal hood, an N.O.S. grille that was the correct bluish color, and an N.O.S. aqua steering wheel still in the box.
George selected R&L Engines in Dover, New Hampshire (who specializes in building vintage and performance race motors), to build the engine. Although there were many nicely restored Mustangs around with great paintjobs, George wanted to kick his restoration up a notch by adding the dealer option of a tri-power carb setup. A buddy had a 1968 fastback with the tri-power unit on it that he wasn’t using. After a quick negotiation, George got the intake, carbs, and air cleaner for only $275!
Peppa Hill Customs in Pepperell, Massachusetts, was tasked to do the paint and bodywork, assuring George the paintjob alone would win him trophies , which it has. They took the previously done metal work and massaged it even farther. Then they laid down a few coats of Clearwater Aqua with Spies Hecker (a high-end paint used on expensive German cars), followed by many hours of wet sanding to get the car better than new. The final result is just incredible.
George and his sons Chris and Matt did the final assembly on the car. It took approximately 10 weeks, working late into the night to get the car ready for its début at Carlisle. When the day arrived, the car wasn’t quite ready yet and had never been driven. However, he loaded it on a trailer anyway and headed to the show, receiving a second-place award for his efforts. After that first showing, he made corrections, and it’s won first-place trophies ever since. While at the show, George ran into a guy who remembered the car from years ago. He had tried buying it back then, but the owner wouldn’t sell. As the conversation continued, he said the dealer where the car had been originally sold (Anderson Ford in Maynard, Maryland) had an auction when it closed. He bought some dealer plates from the auction and sent George a set free of charge since they would belong on his car.
Since Carlisle, George has attended many shows, including some major ones like the World of Wheels in Boston, where he won Best Classic Car Restoration. His Mustang is not a trailer queen either, as it’s driven regularly on nice days during the summer. It even had to be driven home from Carlisle Ford Nationals one year, when one of his New Hampshire Mustang Club friend’s 2003 Mustang broke down and had to leave the show. George had pulled his rare Mustang off his trailer, so his friend’s car could be trailered home. He drove the convertible 400 plus miles in the heat without a problem. It was built to be driven and that’s what he did. He earned a lot of respect from his friends that day because he loves to help other car guys in need.
Even though his convertible is done, George’s passion for Mustangs is still going strong. He has been focusing lately on helping his son Chris work on his desirable 1990 LX 5.0L sedan. He also promised Kathy that he would restore her 1966 convertible. So far, he has over three pallets of really nice original parts stored in the cellar for her car. Oh, and Kathy wants air conditioning too, so he bought a 1965 Mustang just to get the A/C setup, along with the original disc-brake setup, and then he flipped that car. George and Kathy have been married for 32 wonderful Mustang years!
These are two of the many parts cars that were stripped and flipped during the build.
The build sheet is always handy when you buy a vintage Mustang.
If you’re wondering about the color, George chose the Clearwater Aqua Poly from Spies Hecker.
A little Ford versus Chevy smack talk 1967 style!