Jim Smart
August 1, 1998

It's a balmy spring afternoon in Springfield, Virginia. A gentle breeze flows through the fresh green leaves. Humidity dampens the neck and collar with cooling perspiration. Thick haze grays the sky. A garage door opens. Pat Porter prepares to relive old Mustang memories and create a few new ones. Husband Richard Porter, a well-known and respected member of the National Capitol Region Mustang Club, joins Pat for the ride.

The Porters' Rangoon Red '65 Mustang convertible is everyone's favorite. It's a glistening red body sporting striking white appointments and V-8 power. How could you not like this one? Pat slips the key into the ignition and spins the starter. Ford's 289-2V engine sports a familiar, lifelong sound. Clicking rockers in need of oil impatiently await lubrication and quiet down. The chirping fan belt develops a routine that includes the water pump, alternator, and power steering pump. Pat slips the Cruise-O-Matic into Drive. A C4's hydraulics go to work, directing all important fluid pressure to the clutch pistons and band servo. It's time to take a drive.

The Porters live in an attractive neighborhood in suburban Washington, D.C., on the Virginia side. Dropping the top and installing the boot afford them an opportunity to say hi to the neighbors as they cruise down the street. A quick jab at the garage door opener closes the door behind them. Driving a classic Mustang with the top down is an invitation to others who can appreciate a fine automobile. The Porters blast out onto I-95 through northern Virginia and take liberal doses of fresh air, wind through their hair, and admiring glances from fellow Washingtonians. No politics spoken here--just good, clean fun in a Mustang.

Driving a classic Mustang isn't like driving a new one. Today's Mustang isolates the driver from the road and that genuine feel we find most in a vintage Ford. This is the charm and appeal of a '65 Mustang. In an old Mustang, you feel the road and hear the engine. A classic Mustang challenges your driving skills. There's little time to take your mind off the road. Behold the Porters' best efforts. Larry Lomax massaged the body and applied the paint. When we speak of tasteful appointments and great workmanship, Richard's talents and friend Sam Ridgeway's shine. Those are Red Lines and styled steel wheels. Under the hood, a stock 289-2V engine with the Cobra dress-up kit. Factory air conditioning comes in handy when Washington-area humidity and summertime heat peak. That's the Mustang's standard white vinyl interior with red appointments.

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What we have here is more than just steel, glass, vinyl, plastic, iron, and paint. It was a special gift from Richard to Pat to celebrate the couple's 20th wedding anniversary, which is, ironically, January 1. Happy New Year indeed. Richard and Sam plunged into the rigors and pleasures of a restoration together. As you might expect from an East Coast car, abundant sheetmetal work was involved, then Larry Lomax added his expertise when it was time to finish the bodywork and paint. Gerald Hood tackled the interior. Richard handled the engine and driveline. Call it a labor of love. Call it a community effort. Pat and Richard take in the beauty of Virginia in the spring as they cruise along with the top down. That's the nice thing about a convertible. What makes it decidedly special is the memories of a lifetime together, which in itself is like cruising in a Mustang. There are the chuck holes, rainstorms, and stone chips along the way. But all in all, neither Pat nor Richard would trade it for anything in the world.