Jim Smart
July 25, 2006
Photos By: Chris Richardson

Because it was going to Henry Ford II, 100148 received special attention due to requested equipment, such as the alternator charging system. That meant a one-off wiring harness unique to Mustangs. This was learned the hard way during the restoration. A conventional '65 wiring harness required modifications to work with the '6411/42 electrical components. A steel-plate scatter shield was also welded to the transmission tunnel to protect Mr. Ford from possible clutch/flywheel failure. The 289 High Performance engine was a one-off with experimental cylinder heads, undoubtedly hand-built for the earliest K-code Mustang unearthed to date. Even the steering gear was specific for unknown reasons.

When 100148 was completed at Dearborn, it was delivered to Ford Design for the kind of treatment you might expect for Henry Ford II. The conventional Mustang seats were clad in knitted-style leather with unique chrome and teakwood appointments. The instrument panel and glove compartment door were dressed with real teakwood. A custom-fabricated leather headliner was installed, and chrome door latches and strikers were added. A one-of-a-kind AM radio with die-cast chrome buttons was installed, along with reverb and a rear-seat speaker.

Ford Design also borrowed developmental parts for 100148, including the GT foglamps and exhaust trumpets (not available on the Mustang until a year later), die-cast wheel-lip moldings, and more. When Art bought the car, it had '66 Styled Steel wheels, which he is convinced weren't there when the car was delivered to Mr. Ford. It remains unknown what the car had for rolling stock when it was new.

Through the years, Art has touched base with Ford employees who remember the hardtop. One Ford executive garage mechanic recalls Mr. Ford's concern over fuel economy. Granted, most people who ordered a 289 High Performance Mustang weren't concerned about fuel mileage, especially in the fuel-plentiful '60s. But nonetheless, fuel consumption concerned Mr. Ford. The mechanic, baffled about how to improve the car's mileage, decided to swap speedometer gears so the speedometer would read higher and Mr. Ford would drive slower. He never heard anymore from Mr. Ford.

When Art bought the car, he didn't take its history all that seriously. It was just an old Hi-Po Mustang, so he loaned it to his brother, who had a ball with the car until a valvetrain failure shut down the engine. Art performed a top-end overhaul and took the keys away from his brother. While he was at it, he performed a mild restoration and repainted the car, driving it on rare occasions.

For many years, 100148 was a best-kept secret in Detroit as it rarely saw the light of day. Because Art has worked in Vehicle Operations at Ford for many years, he has spent most of his life on the road, charged with new vehicle launches at Ford plants all over North America. This kept 100148 in storage and out of circulation for the better part of two decades.

In 2002, Art became concerned about the hardtop because it was beginning to suffer the effects of storage, dampness, salt spray, and inactivity. When Art asked us how he should approach 100148's restoration, we suggested a thorough inspection to determine the proper course of action. What Art found wasn't good. Rust, decay, and even mice had taken a toll. It was then that he began searching for someone who could perform a spot-on restoration. It was going to be expensive, more expensive than he ever imagined. It ultimately took the coordinated efforts of Mustang Monthly, National Parts Depot, Mustangs Plus, and the discovery of Rustbusters in Redford Township, Michigan.

When Rustbusters went to work on Art's HFII car, they did so with extraordinary care. There was the leather interior to consider, and there was also a leather top and headliner to think about. Rustbusters disassembled the car one piece at a time, taking notes and shooting pictures to make sure it was put back together properly.