July 29, 2010

When we saw these stunning images, we were stirred by both the craftsmanship and imagination that went into this Candyapple Red '66 Mustang convertible. On the other side of the world is a steamy passion for Mustangs not entirely unlike our own here in the States.

In Australia, they love Mustangs. But in Australia, it's more challenging to find, buy, and build a classic Mustang because they're scarce Down Under. In addition, parts and services for these cars are few and far between in the ironic land of plenty. And when these commodities are found, it gets expensive and often time consuming. But, be advised, the passion in Australia is every bit as formidable as it is here, with inspired Aussies lining up to buy collectible Fords every day.

Belmont, Queensland, was established in 1899 just east of Perth on the Swan River in the northeast corner of the vast Australian continent. Although Belmont is in the Perth Metropolitan Area of Queensland on the Gold Coast, it is a separate community all its own. It has prospered and certainly has struggled since its founding more than a century ago. Locals have been concerned over a decline in Belmont's population caused by inadequate family housing and other support. This has been changing in recent years thanks to innovative government and business planning. Positive things are happening around Belmont, making it a place more people want to live.

To give you perspective, Belmont has a population of approximately 31,000 people, up from a low of 26,000 a few years ago. Think of Belmont like you would one of New York City's boroughs-Queens, Brooklyn, or the Bronx-only much smaller and with fewer people. Belmont's population is rich and diverse. Nearly half is United Kingdom and from neighboring New Zealand with that modified British accent we yanks in the States like to hear. The rest of Belmont's population is a smattering of ethnic groups from all over the world because we live in an exciting new age of globalization. Most of Belmont is Australian-born and proud of its heritage.

In the Northern hemisphere, we think of the South as warm and tropical. We head there in great numbers when winter comes. In Australia and the rest of the Southern hemisphere, exactly the opposite is true. Aussies flock to the North when it's time to escape the cold. Perth is certainly tropical-warm and humid-much like Florida and the Gulf Coast here in the States. This makes it an appropriate climate for people who love collectible cars they can drive most of the time.

Marshall Perron, former chief minister of Australia's North Territory, affectionately calls Belmont home. A progressive and caring patron to the people, Marshall has done extraordinary things for Queensland's population through the years. He's an advocate for people who are suffering, primarily the elderly and terminally ill. Ever controversial in Australia and around the world, Marshall supports voluntary euthanasia-the right to die with dignity. The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 was a highly debated law Marshall was able to get passed in Australia's Northern Territory. It became law in 1996. Getting there wasn't easy, nor has keeping this law on the books been easy either. As with any controversial law people are passionate about, it wasn't easy to establish guidelines because every situation is different. What's more, voluntary euthanasia became a lightning rod for death with dignity and antieuthanasia groups around the world. Support for the right-to-die law had overwhelming support in the Northern Territory, but not enough elsewhere in Australia. He remains committed to keeping the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act alive.

Marshall has also been passionate about the rights of car enthusiasts during his many years in politics. He has fought hard against crusher legislation in the Northern Territory because Aussies have the same worries we do in the States. Environmentalists, citizens, and politicians all want old cars off the road. Marshall has been instrumental in protecting the rights of car buffs Down Under. More and more classic cars survive thanks to his efforts.

When you consider Marshall's passion for people, it comes as no surprise he would build a whole lot of eyewash for the human race. This is one of the most incredible Mustang restomods we have ever seen, and it comes from Australia. "I wanted to maintain the classic lines of the '66 Mustang while bringing the ride, performance, and comfort into the 21st century," he says. Marshall's objective was to build a classic, high-tech Mustang that looked like it could have come from a Ford Australia assembly plant. He had to reach way around the world to the United States for a potentially striking platform-a rust-free California donor convertible from the Mustang Ranch. At home in Australia, he found an '03 AU 111 Falcon XR-8 sedan, which had been totaled in an accident. Born of this combo was an Aussie-American musclecar designed to make everyone take cover, and notice.

Marshall Perron has hand-crafted a mind-bending Mustang ride that makes us weak in the knees, incorporating just the right combination of parts from not only Ford, but other automakers from around the world to achieve the perfect blend-a source for pure, wanton lust.