Jim Smart
June 1, 2004

Southern Arizona's Laurie Slawson has been an instrumental part of the Mustang movement for most of her life. Her passion for Mustangs dates back to her roots in Detroit, where she was the impressionable young daughter of a Ford executive who spent most of his career in Dearborn. For Laurie, Mustang mania began in 1962 when her father described a new undertaking called the Sporty Ford Car Project. At the time, the project didn't have a name, just a mission from then Ford Division Vice President and General Manager Lee Iacocca. That mission was four bucket seats and a sporty persona in an affordable package, a concept that would become legendary in its execution.

When Laurie first learned of the project, she knew she wanted one, but it would be several years before she would know the pleasures of Mustang ownership. On the June day when 15-year-old Laurie and her parents picked up this Sunlit Gold '68 hardtop from Spitler-Demmer Ford, a wildcat strike was being staged at the dealership. Picketers were even walking around her Mustang in the showroom.

Five months later, when Laurie got her driver's license, there were just 312 miles on the odometer. What a nice ride to come home to from school: 289-2V V-8, C4 Select-Shift, 2.79:1 gears, factory air conditioning, power steering, power front disc brakes, console, AM radio, and remote driver's mirror.

Thirty-six years later, Laurie reflected on her many memories from June 6, 1968. She remembered the debate with her parents about the color. Laurie wanted Lime Gold with a black vinyl top. Her mother wanted Candyapple Red. Her dad wanted Meadowlark Yellow. In the end, her father compromised with Sunlit Gold.

When Laurie lived on campus at the University of Michigan, she left the Mustang at home to keep it safe from the Michigan winters. It wasn't until 1974, when Laurie went to graduate school in Cincinnati, that she drove the Mustang regularly. After receiving her master's degree in the mid-'70s, she moved to Phoenix, a kinder climate for an aging Mustang. Because Laurie's area of expertise is archaeology, her Mustang saw its share of abuse as it served as a field car for many years. Laurie calls the Mustang her "off-road" vehicle. One time, she drove the Mustang up a rocky creek bed to get to a dig.

In 1980, Laurie moved to Tucson to work for the University of Arizona, driving her Mustang to work daily. By 1983, the Mustang was beginning to show its age, so Laurie retired the car from regular use, getting it repainted and detailing the engine compartment. At the time, it was a matter of protocol to restore a Mustang to factory original condition. Laurie joined the Southern Arizona Mustang Club and began learning the ropes of Mustang restoration and showing.

Today, Laurie is an integral part of the Old Pueblo Mustang Club and serves as a committed board member for the Mustang Club of America. Through the years, she's become a seasoned restorer.

Since 1983, Laurie has completely restored her Mustang, adding a fresh interior and underpinnings in 1998, an engine rebuild in 2001, and a host of other details since. She and several close friends in Tucson have crossed the country together, competing in Mustang Club of America sanctioned shows as far away as the East Coast.

For Laurie, the Mustang experience began long before most of us had ever heard the name. This keeps her committed and determined to continue serving the hobby that has been a passion for most of her life.