Richard Baldini III
March 13, 2012

(The Modified Mustangs & Fords staff gives our feature car owners a technical spec sheet to fill out after photographing the vehicle, and sometimes you get people who do a great job filling out the sheet. Sometimes you barely get any information out of it. On rare occasions, you get way more than you expected, which makes your job as a journalist much easier. Richard Baldini did such a great job telling us his story that we decided to reprint it as he wrote it—ED.)

My story starts in the great city of New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1966. My dad, Richard Baldini Jr, had his eye on a '63-1/2 split-window Corvette that got a taste of Hurricane Betsy, however the owner settled for a trade instead of selling my dad a car that had gotten a little water in her. So, my father goes car shopping as I grow in my mother's belly, completely unaware of the future this car has in store for me.

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So what does Dad buy? A '66 Ford Mustang coupe. The car has none of the available options, no power steering, no power brakes, not even the day/night rearview mirror. Fortunately, he did opt for the 289ci engine with the three-speed manual transmission.

Shortly after making the purchase, Dad decided to take the new Mustang on a road trip for a work seminar and got into a head-on collision with several hogs—let's just say we think the Mustang handled the accident better than the Vette would have. The car literally jumped over them and obviously sustained considerable damage upon landing, but the important thing was that Dad was OK. So, time for the first color change, and my dad's love affair with the Mustang begins.

I remember when I was about 6 years old, and Dad changed out the single exhaust for dual Cherry Bomb mufflers. We lived in a neighborhood that had a single entrance about a mile and a half long, just enough to have a little fun—I can smell the exhaust like it was yesterday. From that day on, I have been in love with the Mustang.

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When I was about 14 years old, I started wanting my own. I had been saving a little money by cutting grass, was doing well in school, and so it was time to convince Dad that it was my turn to get a Mustang. I don't remember him giving me too much of a problem—what reason did he have to deny me the pleasure? So we set out in search of the perfect car. What we finally found was a 289-powered coupe with all the bells and whistles, power steering, power brakes, automatic, air conditioning, and even the day/night rearview mirror. I think that is where the good news stopped. It didn't take much time to find out all of her problems—rust, rust, and more rust all the way into the engine block. This car couldn't hold a magnet. Dad was pretty resourceful, though. He was also a great mechanic, good at bodywork, and itchin' to make sure I had a nice ride.

By my junior year in high school, I was behind the wheel of a cherry '66 Mustang. It didn't take me long to realize that the stock look was not for me, so I put on a set of aluminum 14-inch slot mags with BFGoodrich rubber, and added seats out of a Honda Prelude, a custom console, and a Grant steering wheel—I was in heaven.

After a few short months of having fun, the massive amount of plastic body filler in the car started rearing its ugly head. There was rust in the bottom of the doors, and rear fender wells became a semi-annual attack. The roof would crack around the C pillars from window to window. One day, while digging around with the back seats out, I realized that the roof had been replaced and was held together by only some pop rivets and Bondo. We made some support repairs, put a vinyl top on, and Dad painted it black. Black on Black on Black—one bad-looking Mustang in 1983.