Modified Mustangs & Fords
1966 Ford Mustang - Sentimental Value
Never underestimate what a loyal owner will do
In the fall of 1965, Steve Naranjo's parents placed an order with Hoover Ford in Denver, Colorado, for a new '66 Mustang coupe. The C-code, C4-automatic-equipped Mustang was delivered with Ivy Gold and White Deluxe interior and an Ivy Green exterior. Steve's parents picked up the Pony later in November, and it served as the family's daily driver for the next six years.
"I spent countless hours as a passenger in the back seat, and learned to drive in it by guiding it around an empty parking lot at Mile High Stadium," Steve recalls. In 1972, Steve received the Mustang as his 16th birthday present. "I have been a die-hard Mustang fan ever since," Steve tells us. One would wonder why, given the condition of the car.
When Steve took possession, the Mustang had been used up and driven hard. The seat frame was broken, the C4 transmission was shot, and it needed lots of maintenance items like brakes, tires, U-joints, and more. "On a bag boy's salary at the local grocer, it wasn't so free after all."
Despite the issues at hand, Steve made the repairs, and drove the Mustang all through high school, making small hot rod upgrades here and there. Mag wheels with Mickey Thompson rubber, a dual exhaust with glasspack mufflers and air shocks to give it the rake that was in style back then--these mods were also meant to detract from a less-than-stellar repaint.
"I installed an eight-track tape deck and rear speakers," says Steve. "It made the rounds at the local cruises like the Scotchman's in north Denver and 16th Street downtown. It looked pretty good in the school parking lot, too."
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When it came time for college, Steve put the car back to stock, and it would serve him through all kinds of weather, paved and unpaved roads, and even a drunk driver who managed to jump the curb and sandwich the Mustang between Steve's roommates' cars.
"It suffered minor dings and dents along the way, and even survived an amazing storm in Ft. Collins, Colorado, with softball-sized hail in 1979," Steve recalls. After enduring the salted winter roads of upstate New York and heavy summer rains of Florida, the Mustang was really hurting. Steve and his then girlfriend, Roberta, limped the Mustang back home to Denver in 1988 during an "adventurous and frigid trip" from South Dakota where Steve was completing some doctoral work. Steve's mother occasionally drove it after that to keep it running, and Steve switched to a new daily driver.
When Steve was up for a move to Arizona, he "contemplated the Mustang's fate after all the years of loyal service." The decision was made to have it towed to his new residence in the much warmer climate of Chandler, Arizona, thinking that one day he would restore it to its former glory.
"All of the vintage autos cruising the streets of Phoenix kept me inspired," says Steve, "but thoughts of restoration came and went. I'd drive the tired Pony around the neighborhood every couple of months just to keep the battery fresh and the blood circulating, but it was clear she was very sick." In the late '90s, the engine finally threw in the towel, relegating the car to garage storage shelf status.
Now married, Steve and his wife, Roberta, welcomed their son, Nathan, into the world and family priorities were reset. Steve would eventually refuse several offers to purchase the car, deeming it was worth more than the offers.
"My lifelong love of cars, especially the old ones, finally infected my son," Steve tells us. "We would attend the Barrett-Jackson auction each year as well as any event that featured old cars--there's no shortage of those in the Phoenix area." With a growing interest in restoring the car, and no doubt some youthful enthusiasm from Nathan, Steve finally decided to go forward with it in 2006.