Jim Smart
March 1, 2008

Jerry Kubitsky was 11 years old when his father, Lester, traded in a '63 Impala for a red Mustang hardtop at Galpin Ford in Southern California's San Fernando Valley. Ford's most successful dealership had been in business 20 years and was already well-established when Lester drove out of the lot in his new Mustang.

Lester worked for Seagram's Distillery and had the entire Los Angeles area as his sales territory. Jerry tells us his father always dressed in the finest suits and traded cars every two to three years. "He was a show off, and what better car to show off in than a new Signalflare Red '66 Mustang? However, my father was not a car nut, so he opted for a two-barrel 289, standard black interior, and air conditioner. You would never want a car without air conditioning in Los Angeles."

Jerry recalls the family's first trip in the Mustang: "When Dad brought the car home, he decided to break it in with a road trip to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the thermostat stuck and we wound up driving 15 minutes at a time to Vegas, with 30-minute cool downs in between. A trip that would normally take four hours took eight." Lester took the car to a Las Vegas Ford dealership, where the thermostat was replaced.

Jerry tells us his father ended up keeping the Mustang longer than any other car. It became a daily driver for Jerry's mother, Libby, who subjected it to the traffic and congestion of greater Los Angeles. As the car aged, Lester moved it outside, which didn't help its condition.

Fifteen years ago, Jerry decided to take his parents' Mustang and store it for safekeeping. But he had a long-term plan in mind. "When I got the car, the interior was torn up, the headliner was gone, and the right fender was dented-along with most of the rest of the car. For most people, the Mustang looked as though it should've been sent to the scrap pile long ago, but this was my family's car."

Jerry considered what it would take to get the car working again, knowing it wouldn't be cheap or easy. He started by delivering the Mustang to Santee Collision, where the body was stripped. Meanwhile, Jerry placed the mechanicals in the good hands of Ed Hale, who knocked the unmolested 289 apart for a rebuild. Because it was a Thermactor-equipped 289 with air-injection heads, Jerry decided to shelve them in favor of 302 non-Thermactor heads. Inside is a mild RV flat-tappet hydraulic camshaft profiled for good low-end torque and fuel economy, which is exactly what Jerry had in mind.

Jerry didn't dress this 289 in dead-stock clothing. He added a Ford Motorsport air cleaner and opted for aftermarket ignition wires. Because he owns an automatic transmission shop in San Diego, rebuilding the C4 Cruise-O-Matic was easy. As you might imagine, Jerry's '66 has its original 2.80:1 8-inch peg-leg differential ready for more action. Behind the steel wheels and full wheel covers are manual drum brakes, just like 42 years ago.

When Jerry completed the restoration, he contacted Galpin Ford about surprising his brother and sister with an unveiling in Galpin's showroom on the car's 40th anniversary. On a December afternoon in 2005, with Ron and Adrienne standing by, Galpin Ford pulled the cover off Lester and Libby Kubitsky's restored Mustang in front of friends and press.

This gesture says a lot about Jerry's character. It also says something about Galpin Ford and its commitment to customer service, which explains why it has been the number one Ford dealership for the past 16 years. And Jerry? He and his family are in a class all by themselves.