Rod Short
March 1, 2001

Ask any group of married women about gifts they've received for an anniversary, a birthday, or a holiday and you're likely to hear some interesting answers. You'll probably hear about gifts ranging from vacuum cleaners to fishing gear or from Wal-Mart gift certificates to the most revealing teddies. While some of these gifts might be OK in their own right, some women will agree that these can never take the place of more romantic things-not so with Kay Jones of Iva, South Carolina. When she received her Candy-apple Red '66 Mustang hardtop as a gift from her husband one Christmas, she knew this gift horse was a keeper.

"As long as I can remember, I've always liked Mustangs," Kay said proudly. "Growing up, we never had the money to have anything else other than a family car, but I always liked Mustangs and just never could forget them."

Although her husband, John, had never owned a Mustang, the couple decided to spend some time looking for a suitable project car that wouldn't break the bank. With two girls heading for college, that proved to be a tall order-but one that was still possible with careful searching and generous amounts of elbow grease.

"Ever since we've been married, she's told me she wanted a Mustang," John said about their decision to finally get a ponycar. "We looked for about five or six years, but everything was either too rusty or too expensive. When I finally found one, she wasn't with me at the time-so I kept the car hidden while I worked to get it in shape."

A lot of time went into restoring and refurbishing just about everything on the car, from the interior and the paint, right down to the 289 2V engine and the C4 automatic transmission. John did a lot of the work before presenting the car to his wife on Christmas Day 1996. Subsequent years were spent trying to complete everything else at home.

"A friend told me that when I start to restore the car to not add up what it costs, because it would really scare me," John said with a grin. "Yet, I enjoy working on this, because you really can't do much with the newer cars."

John also mentioned that his wife said that if he'd put as much effort into the yard, they'd probably have a masterpiece. Yet, she appreciates what it means to him just as much as it does to her.

"Sometimes, I think it's his car more than it is mine," Kay said with a laugh. "It's his baby. Usually, I just sit back and let him drive the car, because I enjoy watching him have so much fun with it. John had a '94 Corvette that he spent a lot of time on before we got the Mustang, but now it's slipped to second place since we got this car.

"We usually like to go out on weekends," Kay went on, "but I don't like to go out too far, because the car's not as comfortable as others, and it's not air conditioned. It's great for cruising, though. We get offers about buying the car just about every time we take it somewhere. Yet, as far as I'm concerned, there's not enough money to buy that car. I love it, and I wouldn't ever want to give it up."

With more testimonials like this, diamonds, dinner, and flowers may never be as popular again.