Jim Smart
June 29, 2011

Bill Laursen has never forgotten the thrill of his first car because he still owns it.

Bill was 22 in 1970 and had a definite idea about the car he wanted to buy. It had to be a ’68 Mustang fastback, yellow with a black interior, and it had to have a V-8. In those days, you couldn’t pop out the iPhone to see what’s for sale. Back then, there were newspaper classified ads, local auto traders, and used car lots.

For Bill, it was a small newspaper ad for a ’68 Mustang fastback at a Dodge/Toyota dealer’s used car lot about 70 miles from Bill’s home in northern Utah. The voice on the other end of the phone described a yellow fastback with a V-8 engine and automatic transmission. Bill hit the road with his mom and brother to discover a relatively fresh Mustang with 37,000 miles, a lot for a two-year-old car. The creamy Meadowlark Yellow paint was off-set by black C-stripes and hood stripes, and it was equipped with a 302-4V, GT Equipment Group with styled steel wheels, and something he’d never seen before in a Mustang—a bench seat.

At the time, Bill didn’t give that bench seat much thought. In time, he would learn that only 1,079 were installed in ’68 Mustang fastbacks— and certainly fewer in cars with the GT Equipment Group.

Bill had found the perfect car for $1,900. He signed the purchase agreement and forked over the $50 deposit fronted by his mom.

Bill would drive the Mustang a lot over the next four years before parking it in 1974. It was garaged and never driven in bad weather again. For the next 30 years, the Mustang was driven perhaps 100 miles annually. Other than a repaint in 1978, the 88,000-mile fastback remained untouched.

“This dependable, trouble-free car really sold me on Fords,” Bill says. “In 2005, it still had its factory water pump.”

Thinking ahead, Bill started amassing new-old-stock parts for a planned restoration. Even more challenging was finding someone qualified to restore his Mustang. He didn’t know where to begin his search for a reputable restoration shop.

In April 2005, Bill spotted a meticulously restored ’65 Mustang GT convertible at a local Mustang show. A young man was sitting with the car so Bill asked him who had performed the restoration. “I did,” Dan Green replied.

Bill recalls that Dan was only 26 at the time, yet his ’65 Mustang restoration was eight years old. “I was impressed enough that I asked Dan if he’d be interested in restoring my fastback,” Bill says. So Bill delivered his fastback to Dan Green Restorations in Sandy, Utah, for a restoration that would serve as a flash-back to that used car lot in 1970.

It wasn’t long after the restoration was completed that Bill became curious about the original owner. He remembered that he still had the Ford Owner Card with the original owner’s name, James Hobson. Directory Assistance was no help, but a Google search turned up a single match. He sent an email and got a response: “I am not the James Hobson who originally owned your car, but I am his oldest son and named after him. My dad sold the car because my parents wanted to have kids and that Mustang wasn’t going to do the job. My dad talked about that car for years like it was his most prized possession. I wish he had found a way to hold onto it. Unfortunately, my dad died in 1986.”

Bill eventually hooked up with the son at a Mustang show. When James Jr. flipped through the original owner’s manual, he was surprised to find his father’s signature inside.

As someone who appreciated what he had found but never forgot a youthful dream, Bill can be considered as rare as his bench-seat Mustang.

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