Jim Smart
November 1, 2008

John Murphy goes into the inner sanctum of his cozy garage to savor that which he loves most-automobiles. He has spent the better part of his lifetime studying and enjoying American automobiles, marveling at how they were designed, manufactured, and sold. John has always felt a sense of duty to history and authenticity. He will tell you that none of us ever really owns these cars; we're just stewards to their preservation and care while we are here.

When John takes on a classic Mustang restoration, he concentrates on using original Ford parts wherever possible. He takes his commitment to excellence seriously, disassembling all components and rebuilding them to Ford specifications. To him, it has to look and feel like 1965 again or you're cutting the effort short.

John has owned this '65 GT Hi-Po fastback since spotting it for sale in January 1986 in Hemmings Motor News. Offered for sale by its second owner, John snapped it up for $5,600, which was a lot of money in those days. At the time, the car was a nice driver in excellent condition. John taught his son, Pat, now 40, how to drive in this car. This is where Pat learned to drive a manual transmission with a conventional three-finger clutch and broomstick-in-a-barrel stick shift.

The GT fastback powered by the K-code 289 High Performance engine was the ultimate Mustang for '65-just shy of Shelby's GT350 if your objective was power and handling. What makes the Mustang GT a premium choice is those sweet appointments buyers craved then and now-GT stripes and badges with cool exhaust trumpets and foglamps. Shelby's GT350 was rough and tumble; the Mustang GT was elegant.

Inside John's GT is the Mustang's Interior Dcor Group, introduced on April 17, 1965, along with the GT Equipment Group. Molded door panels with pistol-grip door handles borrowed from Thunderbird's parts bin are a vibrant message beyond anything Detroit automakers across town had going at the time. The new five-dial instrument panel was borrowed from Mercury's Comet and exclusive to Mustang GT and the Interior Dcor Group for '65. A woodgrain steering wheel of striking stainless with finger-touch horn buttons whispers elegance. Those legendary galloping ponies across John's seatbacks penciled out by late Ford stylist Damon Woods are what made this desirable option our beloved pony interior. Between the buckets is a full-length console in woodgrain and chrome. Across your lap are deluxe seatbelts color-keyed in Avocado Green to provide sharp contrast, making it impossible to see them as purely safety features because they complement our threads nicely. Straddling the steering column is this Mustang's original factory Rally-Pac sporting clock and eight-grand tachometer.

It may surprise you to know that this car isn't restored, but more preserved to Dearborn assembly plant standards. John never had it in him to completely strip down this Chicago native. The only time it left John's 24x24 garage was to visit the body shop for fresh Sikkens Honey Gold single-stage paint. Aside from scuffing and paint, no bodywork was required.

John searches the globe for new-old-stock and good, restorable Ford parts. He's committed to finding original suppliers, so he beats the bushes to see who's still around so he can learn what they used in the production of parts supplied to Ford assembly plants. Most of the time, he doesn't find exactly what he wants because, after all, this car was produced 44 years ago and most of the original players are gone. However, John strikes it rich from time to time, finding what he needs for an authentic restoration. One example is seat upholstery. He found Ford's original supplier of seat vinyl and had TMI Products make the upholstery.