Jerry Heasley
September 1, 2003

There's an old rule about rules, according to my college English professor: If you know the rule, it's OK to break it when you need to make a point. And this, of course, can be applied to Mustang restorations.

Bill Howell broke the concours rules on purpose when he restored his wife, Karen's '68 GT convertible; he wanted to make a statement. He even felt ground-up restorations could have certain mods to suit the owner. But, Bill made sure to retain enough points to earn a Mustang Club of America Gold.

An obvious "two-point hickey," as Bill says, are the '65-'66 Cobra open-letter valve covers. The Cobra dress-up kit fits the concours rule book, but Bill opted, with his wife's consent, to replace the closed-letter '67-'68 black crackle-style covers with the earlier ones. In his opinion, they just looked better.

Bill showed restraint to keep the cadmium-plated master-cylinder cover when he lusted for more chrome. At shows without concours judging, he installs a chromed master-cylinder cap to make the engine bay look just right.

Upon closer inspection of the 14-inch chromed open air-filter lid, you'll notice a "Cobra Powered by Ford" decal. It's not Mustang stock, but Bill likes it because he slightly recammed the J-code 302 with an N.O.S. 289 Cobra camshaft. He also ported and polished the heads and bolted on the Cobra high-rise intake for a little more torque and horsepower.

A couple more obvious deductions are the Cobra badge in the grille and the Cobra medallion inside the N.O.S. steering wheel.

Aside from these changes, Karen's GT is stock and rare. When have you seen a '68 with the optional Reflective Group? In 1968, it consisted of reflective C stripes in either black, white, red, or blue, and reflective paint on Argent-colored Styled Steel wheels. When you shine the least amount of light on the C-stripe, it glows like the tag numbers on a license plate. Likewise, the wheels put on a light show as they spin, making this one hot looking GT.

While researching the car's 90 DSO (meaning destined for Mexico), Bill found out how this GT stayed in the States. A man was driving down the freeway in Houston, saw the convertible on a Ford transport truck, followed it to a stop, then talked to the driver. He wanted the car and persuaded Ford to sell it to him.

Bill had previously restored a '68 GT fastback, and the convertible was for Karen. The plan was to build a driver. She drove the GT to work for a year and a half, encountering the usual questions: "Hey, lady, what's under the hood?" and "What'll it take to buy the little blue convertible?"

The driver build went concours when Bill pulled the engine and shot extensive pictures of factory markings. Body and paintwork eventually consumed 400 shop hours. While the GT was in the body shop, Bill gathered those vintage Cobra parts and pieces.

Now, is it too perfect to drive? The plan is to take MCA Gold. Then Karen, who commutes to work in a '96 Cobra coupe, will put the '68 GT on the road for weekend cruising and Texas Panhandle Mustang Club events.