June 9, 2006

Ron and Donna Silva have broken one of the primary rules of modern post-World War II culture. They have been together a long time, violating the "50-percent of all marriages fail" Baby Boomer/Gen-X statistic. Think of this Sanger, California, couple as solid, predictable, reliable people with their feet squarely on the ground. They have gone the distance.

A funny thing about middle age, it makes us want to rush out and find tangible ways to relive our youth. Ron and Donna needed the therapy of something old et familiar.

The Silva's Emberglo '66 Mustang GT hardtop, VIN 6R07A222546, is a fitting tribute to their union. At a time when the Vietnam War raged and Watergate was an unknown piece of Washington real estate, high school students Ron and Donna dated, going out in an Emberglo '66 hardtop. The Mustang was eventually sold, and a lifetime of memories passed.

For Ron and Donna, finding a Mustang fitting the description of Ron's high school '66 wouldn't be simple. For one thing, even though Emberglo is a striking color that nearly everyone likes today, only a single-digit percentage of them were produced in '66. When Ron went to the Web in search of an Emberglo Mustang, the ones he found were on the East Coast. Not interested in purchasing a car by way of pictures and promises, Ron and Donna continued shopping for a Mustang they see and touch. Ron's persistence paid off with an Emberglo Mustang just 20 miles from his doorstep. This car had been sitting in the original owner's dusty carport for five years. It didn't take much for Ron to get it running for the drive home.

Once home, the Silvas decided to strip down the car for a bumper-to-bumper freshening that included a Sherwin-Williams paint job by H&L Auto Body in Sanger. Over the next 16 months, Ron worked nights and weekends until the car was ready for action. Sixteen months of hard work included new GT underpinnings, a complete 289-4V engine rebuild, and a T5 five-speed transmission upgrade from National Drivetrain Service. Ron fitted the axles with 15x7-inch Magnum 500 wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich Radial T/As. To improve both stability and traction, Ron opted for Shelby underride traction bars.

Because Ron wanted more power from the car's original 289, he did a bit of restomod with an Edelbrock Performer 289 intake and an Autolite 4100 carburetor from Pony Carburetors. Ron chose a 4100 over an equivalent and the ever-popular Holley 4150 because he liked having the factory original carburetor. When the Edelbrock/Autolite combo proved not quite enough for Ron, he installed a more-aggressive hydraulic camshaft.

As you can see, Ron went stock virtually everywhere else. We like the factory look of the underdash air-conditioning unit from Classic Auto Air. That, coupled with the original Tecumseh compressor, brings back a familiar feel from long ago. Ron exercised street smarts by incorporating a dual-braking system, dividing the front and rear brakes, which keeps at least one of the systems working should the other fail.

Inside, Ron and Donna's Emberglo hardtop is about as elegant as it gets in a classic Mustang ride: Parchment with Emberglo appointments. Officially known as the Interior Dcor Group, the plush interior is more commonly referred to as the Pony interior due to the embossed running horses in the seat backs. A Custom Autosound cassette and six-CD sound system along with Kenwood speakers yield the good vibrations.

When we asked Ron what he loved most about the car, he said, "That Donna and I dated all through high school in a Mustang nearly identical to this one, which makes it fun to hit the road on weekends."

Where Were You in 1966?
* Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow tie the knot in Vegas
* The flash cube is introduced
* The movie Alfie is released
* Batman remains a popular television series
* Miniskirts are the rage
* United States bombs Hanoi for the first time
* Masters & Johnson's first sex studies get the public's attention
* NASA astronauts Grissom, White, and Chaffe are killed in an Apollo launchpad accident
* The first artificial heart pump is introduced
* The draft calls for 50,000 enlistees a month
* Robert C. Weaver is elected first black presidential cabinet member * Biodegradable detergents are introduced
* Uncle Sam does away with student deferments
* Buster Keaton dies
* The Green Bay Packers kick it under the direction of legend Vince Lombardi
* McDonnell-Douglas introduces the DC-8 Super 60 jetliner
* A B-52 bomber collides in mid-air with a KC-135 tanker and loses seven Hbombs; three were found
* The movie Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is released