Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
October 30, 2012
Photos By: Drew Phillips

"I need a favor," Holly Doughty said to her husband, Keith. When those few words are said by a significant other, time stands still. When a woman says those words, you know it's time to turn off the selective hearing function and pay attention. "I need a favor" isn't a part of the everyday "blah, blah, blah, how-was-work-today" exchange most couples go through blindly. "I need a favor" means you should probably mute Stuart Scott for a minute.

At this point most dudes on the planet would be thinking, oh no! However, Keith wasn't going to be charged with mowing the yard a different way, or doing the dishes a couple nights a week, or to please put down the toilet seat when he was done! "I found a Mustang I want to buy," Holly said, "but it's a stick so you have to drive it home for me." Can we give Keith a collective whew?! Honey-do list averted...kinda. Keith already had a Mustang, so his answer was, "You don't need a Mustang, you can borrow mine." To which Holly answered, "Yeah, right, I'll wreck it and you'll hate me. I want my own." Keith saw Holly's excellent point, and as soon as he was done at work that day, Holly bought the car and Keith drove it home.

The '86 GT "wasn't pretty," as Holly puts it, but for $1,275, you can't ask for much better than a little chipped paint, a missing headliner, door panels stored in the hatch, and a long-expired window motor. "Still, the price was right, and it was mine," Holly says. As soon as the couple had the car home, Keith checked the VIN plate and noticed the GT was built in January 1986. Most of us wouldn't see that as a big deal, but to Holly, the car's build date corresponded with a time that altered her life. January 1986 was not a good month for Holly. "It was life changing," she says.

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The car's build date corresponded with the death of her father, Randall Graves, who was killed while working undercover for the Pima County Sheriffs Office. "I was 5 years old at the time," Holly says. A life-changing event, to put it mildly. Holly almost sold the car on the spot. "Despite my dislike of the date, I knew I was being childish and ended up keeping the car," Holly says. She started driving it non-stop, and it quickly became her favorite car.

Since the car was in pretty rough shape, Holly decided to freshen the paint. Since her favorite color is blue, that's the color applied to the '86 GT. Plus, the color has special meaning to Holly because it also represents fallen law enforcement officers, so it seemed fitting. Of course, since the car is blue and has a fallen officer's license plate, many people put two and two together and ask about her story. It crossed her mind to turn the GT into a tribute car, but at that time she was against it. "It was deeply personal, and I didn't want the car to look overdone or gaudy," Holly says.

However, to go along with the new paint, Keith and Holly began performing small repairs and upgrades, like new wheels, a Bassani exhaust, a Hurst shifter, and tinted windows. "We changed the carpet, and recovered the seats in custom gray vinyl and tweed," Holly says. The interior upgrades came pretty easy since Keith owns K Dezines, a company specializing in interior customization items such as rear-seat-delete kits and subwoofer enclosures. Initially, Holly resisted the urge to add a rear-seat-delete kit, but after a few months of fighting, Keith won that argument. Holly's glad she gave in, and as usual, "He was right," Holly adds. Mark that down, Keith.

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Holly was a happy girl for the next couple years, but when Keith hurt the engine in his '94 Cobra, it presented Holly with an opportunity for a power upgrade. Keith wanted to go with something different in the Cobra, so he offered the rebuilt engine to Holly. The 306 received Edelbrock heads, a Trick Flow Street Heat intake, a Comp Cams Xtreme Energy cam, and a mass air conversion.

The intake and valve covers were painted to match the car, and since her car was used as the template, she kept the K Dezines prototype fender-mount battery relocation kit. During the engine build, Holly found a Cervini's Auto Designs Mach 1 hood for cheap, and Keith influenced her to do a two-tone blue-and-black scheme in the Mach 1 style. Finally, Holly was able to pop the hood at car shows and not be embarrassed. Plus, Holly's GT received a long-awaited K Dezines subwoofer enclosure, also painted to match the exterior.

The thought of making the '86 a tribute car never left Holly's thoughts, even though she avoided doing so for a couple years while she improved its looks. Throughout her career as a Pima County Sheriff's Department 911 dispatcher, she knew several officers who fell in the line of duty. Add to that her father's death and Holly finally decided to use her Mustang for something other than racking up speeding tickets. Holly decided to use the Thin Blue Line theme on her '86 GT to build her tribute car. "The blue line represents the thin line of justice that all law enforcement officers strive to protect," Holly says. "The blue represents the courage utilized in the profession, while the black is a reminder of fallen brother and sister officers," Holly adds.

Holly asked Keith for help in making the GT into a tribute car, but she was adamant that the car be subtle from the outside. Holly wanted the car to be clean on the outside, but for someone who knows the phrase Thin Blue Line to be able to recognize the tribute. Hypnotic Airbrush out of Phoenix, Arizona, applied the underhood and hatch-area murals. With the car's revamped look. it appeared at the Fabulous Fords Forever car show. However, Holly was probably more proud to display it at the Pima Regional Law Enforcement Memorial service in May 2012.

"It was exciting for me to have surviving family members and law enforcement personnel see the car since they can most relate to why I created it," Holly says. She hopes to show the car more once she completes the police academy. However, whether it's on the street or in a car show, Holly uses her GT to bring together the most important aspects of her life... "honoring my father's memory, my husband's business, and my love of Mustangs."

Horse Sense: K Dezines [(520) 885-6275; www.kdezines.com develops products for the exterior and interior of your Mustang. The company offers rear-seat-delete kits, battery relocation kits, stereo enclosures, billet trim pieces, and the like for most late-model Mustangs.

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