Jim Smart
February 3, 2010

The lines of dreams and destiny sometimes converge where least expected. It's like pulling the handle on a slot machine for the first time and winding up with an avalanche of coins. Bud Byrnes calls Reno, Nevada, home and knows a thing or two about betting against the house. He knows pay-dirt is always a long-shot in the "Biggest Little City in the World" because odds are always in favor of the house. So you can imagine his astonishment when a neighbor knocked on his door with an old Mustang convertible to sell.

Bud's neighborhood knows about his interest in classic Mustangs, a fact not well-hidden due to the '66 six-cylinder hardtop parked in his garage. One of his neighbors was storing a Springtime Yellow '67 convertible for a friend who rarely drove the car. When the friend decided to sell the car, the neighbors came knocking on Bud's door. He checked out the car and made an offer.

When Bud pulled his rust-free purchase into the garage, he decided to perform a restoration, but not for concours showing. He wanted to drive this car because it had the basic elements for a good driver drop-top with a 289-2V engine, C4 automatic, and 2.79:1 cruising cogs. He knew he could slip the Select-Shift into D and go just about anywhere with his wife, Judy. He wasn't interested in building a wild restomod. Instead, he wanted something he could keep on a Battery Tender and drive when the mood hit.

Bud knew he wanted a different persona from the pastel yellow ride with full wheel covers. For one thing, there were at least five layers of paint covering the original Springtime Yellow-all of it needing to be removed. That's when Bud got down to the business of stripping the body to factory steel before applying primer-sealer and working imperfect surfaces.

Building a reliable ride ensued with pulling the 289 and C4 to perform rebuilds to factory specification, right down to the box-stock 289 with Autolite 2100 two-barrel carburetion. When he pulled the engine, he couldn't help but notice a factory remanufactured engine tag, which meant the block had at least 4.030-inch bores. He hauled his 289 to Aims Machine Shop in Sparks and had them knock it apart for inspection. Turns out all the engine needed was a mild overbore and hone to 4.040-inches, along with new cast pistons, ductile iron rings, crankshaft polishing, new bearings, a valve job, and the full complement of seals and gaskets. The block and head decks were checked and machined as necessary. Then Bud picked up the 289 to assemble in his home garage. For Bud, a big part of the thrill was performing much of the restoration himself.

Bud completely rebuilt the braking and suspension systems, opting for a good front-end alignment shop when it was over. Bud managed to choose the right coils and leafs to get the ride height just right.

Early on, Bud didn't know what color he wanted for his convertible. While cruising Reno, he spotted an '03 Cadillac on a used car lot. He drove in and asked to look at the color codes, then took them to an auto body supply store and converted them into Cadillac Garnet Red. Final Finish Auto Body in Sparks transformed the color into a deep, rich Candyapple Red basecoat/clearcoat hue.

What also makes this convertible unusual is its wealth of options andaccessories-Interior Décor Group in black vinyl, tilt steering column, Convenience Group with indicator lights, factory air conditioning, fog lamps, power front disc brakes, and the Exterior Décor Group with GT hood, decklid trim, rocker molding, and pop-open gas cap.

If you have an eye for detail, you will notice the '65 styled steel wheels, chosen because Bud liked the red center caps and rims void of trim rings. Bud has since swapped out the earlier wheels for a set of wider '67 styled steel wheels with trim rings and the correct blue center caps. Wrapped around them are P185/75R/14 Eldorado tires.

Bud will tell you he isn't finished with his Mustang. Believe it or not, he never touched the interior, but knows it could use freshening up along with a new top. These are projects Bud has planned for the near future, but who knows what could get in the way-such as a lengthy road trip with Judy to wherever the superslab takes them.

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