Jim Smart
May 1, 2009

Southern Arizona's Paul Calvisi has a decision to make with his unrestored '65 Mustang Hi-Po fastback. What should he do with a low-mileage original that he doesn't want to disturb, yet it needs freshening up to be a respected show car and occasional weekend driver?

We were walking the Old Pueblo Mustang Club's annual show in Tucson when we heard the familiar sound of mechanical tappets and the whine of First gear in a Top Loader transmission working its way through the parking lot. When we turned around, we expected to see a first-generation Mustang with the GT Equipment Group and Pony Interior. Instead, we spotted a Vintage Burgundy '65 fastback with Hi-Po fender badges, Styled Steel wheels, and little else. The car wasn't long on options, yet it had the sporty woodgrain steering wheel and a Rally-Pac, both installed at the San Jose assembly line four decades ago.

The more we studied Paul Calvisi's burgundy fastback, the more we began to understand that we were inspecting an unmolested fastback. Although not low-mileage with 91,000 showing on the odometer, it's undisturbed enough that it could be detailed to factory original condition without hurting what really counted. For example, a repaint is never quite as authentic as Ford's original finish. Yet someone in the '70s managed to repaint this car to its proper factory enamel finish with just the right amount of orange peel. It was hard to differentiate it from the finish Ford applied in 1965. At first glance, we thought it was the car's original finish. That's when Paul corrected us.

When Paul opened the hood, all doubt passed quickly. The 289 High Performance air cleaner decal was authentic--not a reproduction. Autolite ignition wires were genuine in every respect although deteriorated from time and engine heat. The Hi-Po engine had its original California emissions closed crankcase ventilation and Autolite 4100 manual choke carburetor. All underhood fasteners were clearly undisturbed. Items that flagged our attention were non-original radiator and heater hoses fitted with aftermarket worm-gear clamps. The water pump had obviously been replaced. Close inspection of the ignition coil revealed a PerTronix ignition retrofit.

In 44 years, the disc brake master cylinder has never been replaced, which is remarkable considering what brake fluid does to seals and hoses. The original C5AF-D (GL-89A) Autolite 42-amp alternator with extra-large Hi-Po pulley had never been off the car. Heater hoses were supported by the original tire-rubber strap and sheetmetal screw. The original Carter fuel pump was gone, replaced in the car's past. (Paul hit pay dirt after our photo shoot when he found a correct button-top Carter fuel pump).

Paul bought this Mustang four years ago from the original owner, who purchased the fastback new from Dick Wareing Ford in North Sacramento, California. When the original owner retired, he moved to Idaho, eventually selling the car to Paul who was looking for a plain-Jane Hi-Po Mustang with few options. He never expected to find anything like this. Buying this car wasn't easy, by the way. Paul had to make several visits to the seller's home before he felt comfortable enough to sell.

While photographing the Mustang, Paul and I discussed the best course of action for his Hi-Po fastback with its vintage black California license plate. Being true to history ourselves, we believe the car should be detailed to its factory original status. Paul doesn't want a pristine show car restoration, but instead he prefers something he can drive yet also show in concours-driven competition.

With that, we turn to our readers. What do you think? What would you do with this car if someone handed you the keys and title? We would like to hear from you at our website, www.mustangmonthly.com, or you can send email to mustang.monthly@sorc.com. Paul would also like to hear from you at calvisip@aol.com.