Jim Smart
August 23, 2004

The greatest challenge of any generation is how to successfully pass the torch to the next. We're convinced it's a matter of practice at the Nelson household in Santa Rosa, California. In 1998, the Nelsons snapped up this aging Silver Blue hardtop for $500 and rescued the dusty, rusty ride from the confines of an overgrown berry bush. Jennifer Nelson, just 15 at the time, bought it from her parents with a dream in tow.

Jennifer and her father, Ted, who owns a '65 GT fastback, worked on the car together, with a "little help" from Mom and younger brothers. They gutted the hardtop and stripped the body down to bare steel. They removed the 200ci six, replacing it with a 289 V-8. Jennifer, now 21, remembers spending nights, weekends, and afternoons working on the car with her father until it was finished. During her senior year in high school, on April 28, 2001, Jennifer and her dad wrapped up the intensive restoration project at 2 in the morning.

Then came the maiden voyage, a religious experience for anyone who has spent days, months, and years building a nice car. The first time you spin the engine and hear internal combustion is surreal. Smelling fresh paint burning off hot surfaces tells you it's alive. Slipping a fresh C4 into Drive and leaning gently into the throttle is the moment you and your Mustang have arrived.

Jennifer and her father experienced the rush of emotion when they took that first spin in the Silver Blue Metallic Mustang. She thought about the cylinder heads she assembled herself, and remembered the cast-aluminum pistons she held in her hands.

Today, Jennifer reflects on 21,000 miles of trouble-free performance in her classic Mustang, a testament to what she and her dad built together. She tips her hat to her father, who has taught her so much about the fine art of car building. Jennifer and Ted didn't build a trailer queen--they built a driver for the real world, with modifications such as front disc brakes, factory air conditioning with a Sanden compressor, a Pony interior, Styled Steel wheels, a 20-gallon fuel tank from a '69 Mustang, and custom three-point seatbelts. For three years, Jennifer has driven the Mustang to college and enjoyed it daily, rain or shine.

When we asked her how she felt about her Mustang, she answered, "I want to thank my dad for working so hard and teaching me so much about Mustangs. I love my car. It's sporty, but still girly, just like my personality."

Mump_0408_1z 1966_Ford_Mustang_Hardtop Front_Driver_SideMump_0408_4z 1966_Ford_Mustang_Hardtop EngineMump_0408_3z 1966_Ford_Mustang_Hardtop InteriorMUMP 0408 66HARDTOP 5_zMump_0408_2z 1966_Ford_Mustang_Hardtop Rear_Passenger_Side