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1972 Canadian Sprint Mustang - Sprint For The Border
Eric Shink's First Car Turned Out To Be A Rare '72 Canadian Sprint
Having a similarly vast land area but with a population hovering around only 10 percent of the United States', the number of vehicles sold in Canada is understandably trivial when compared to its southern neighbor. But that invisible border between two nations also makes for some occasional interesting distinctions between U.S. and Canadian vehicle content, Fords included. In fact, back in the '50s and early '60s, it wasn't unusual to see wholly distinct models and/or powertrain options in the Great White North. Small standard- and optional-content differences exist to this day, though you'd be hard pressed to discern, say, a current Canadian Mustang from its American counterpart. But it was a little easier in 1972, at least on the Sprint.
While there's nothing earth-shatteringly different about the Canadian version of the '72 Sprint, one look at the maple leaf on the rear fender decal pretty much gives this away as one of the 495 Sprints sent north of the border, which itself is just a stone's throw from the Dearborn assembly plant.
This one, however, went further east to the province of Quebec, that uniquely French enclave where it was initially sold to a woman in her mid-sixties who used it sparingly and gently. It still suffered the ravages of winter, though, before changing hands to a pair of brothers who were decidedly less gentle with it. By 1986, when it passed to the third and present owner, Eric Shink, the 34,000-mile hardtop was rusty, collision-damaged, and apparently multicolored.
"It looked like a zebra," says Eric as he describes the condition when he bought it-against his father's advice-for the princely sum of $1,500 at the ripe young age of 16. Being so young, and his purchase being so rough, Eric didn't even realize that his first car was a fairly rare piece of ponycar history.
Frankly, at that point he didn't really care. It was a Mustang and they had fun together-to the tune of four sets of rear tires in the first summer. The next year, the president of a local Mustang club noticed the distinctive white, blue, and red-striped interior and informed Eric that he might have something special, but it still didn't matter because, as a student, Eric only had enough money "to put in some gas and buy tires."
Then, one rainy day, the odds caught up with him and he slid off the road, heavily damaging his Mustang's front end and making it an unsightly piece of driveway sculpture for the next three months. But Eric refused to give up on it, finally raising the roughly $5,000 necessary to get it back on the road, where it stayed until the mid-'90s, at which point Eric's job had him travelling all over the province. So he decided to store the still-rough hardtop. It would stay in the barn for about a decade
In the meantime, Eric began to do a little research and soon came to realize that he indeed had something special. He was now determined to restore his Sprint properly and so began the search for N.O.S. parts to help return it to factory condition. He says the Sprint-specific upholstery material was the hardest thing to find, eventually taking about eight years to hunt everything down, including help from three parts cars.
The Sprint then went off to a body shop owned by Gilles Blanchet for an 18-month rotisserie restoration. As you can see, the results were worth the effort and expense. The F-code 302-2V and automatic tranny did not need rebuilding and are still 100 percent original, probably because the northern Sprint still shows less than 60,000 miles on the clock.
For those keeping track, Eric's hardtop has the Sprint A package, which, in Canada, included the Wimbledon White with Grabber Blue finish with hood stripes, the Dcor Group, and the unique Canadian-flag-inspired rear fender decals (as opposed to the red, white, and blue USA emblem on American versions). The tri-tone cloth/vinyl interior, blue-striped hubcaps with trim rings, and E70x14 whitewalls rounded out the package, which carried an option price of $164.50 in Canada.
Eric's Sprint also has power steering and disc brakes, an AM radio, a Cruise-O-Matic (FMX) tranny, and the rare (for a Sprint) Competition Suspension. The open rear differential has a 2.79:1 gearset. The total Canadian list price was $4,099.30, and aside from that pricing, the unique decals are about the only things we can see that differentiate this from an American Sprint. Even so, these are rarely seen Mustangs, and we owe Eric a debt of gratitude for investing his time and money to preserve a valuable piece of ponycar history.
As a bonus, unlike most of us, he still has the pleasure of owning his first car.