We were hanging out at Milt Robson's musclecar collection recently near Gainesville, GA, drooling over (but not on!) some seriously expensive and powerful American iron and having a grand old time. Don't worry if Milt's name doesn't immediately ring a bell; like most people who collect cars for purely personal reasons, Milt doesn't advertise his treasures. Word-of-mouth has kept the buff books full of Milt's musclecars since the news first leaked out more than 20 years ago, but there is no neon sign to attract the general public to the rural horse farm/private automotive museum near Road Atlanta.
Milt is one of those guys who worked hard since childhood, got some lucky breaks in business and sold his company for a gazillion dollars. All along, he fed his love of rare American iron with exotica from the '50s and '60s, cars such as the three '69 Trans Am four-speed convertibles (Pontiac only made eight). Milt's taste is eclectic - not strictly limited to one brand or country of origin - but his natural attraction is to the GM family and it often has to be something unusual to win a slot in the big barn.
On our latest trip therefore, we were surprised to see the only '69 Mustang convertible Ford built with a 428 Super Cobra Jet V-8 and four-speed sitting next to a beautiful '70 Shelby GT-500 convertible. Ford Motor Company was also represented by a '34 woody wagon, which caused us to remark to our tour guide Joe Steinmetz that Milt was finally starting to come around our way of thinking. Joe happens to be the primary restorer and wrench-turner for the collection.
"Oh, if you like Fords, I've got a Mustang out in the shop you should see," he said. Needing no further encouragement, we left the three dozen or so museum-quality musclecars and followed Joe to the main garage.
Sitting next to a stripped shell of a '71 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible (one of only 17 built, of course) was Joe's personal car, a Teal '85 Mustang GT hatchback that had "street monster" written all over it. Forgetting about the million-dollar trailer queens just a hundred feet away, we started grilling Joe about his ride. We know a good feature car when we see it, and this one was perfect.
"I've had a few hot Mustangs in my time," the 36-year-old told us. "I was between cars when my wife Renee and I had our son Dallas, so the Steinmetz family budget had very little money for doing a Mustang project.
"Keeping that in mind, I started looking for a good, solid Fox Mustang that wouldn't need a ground-up restoration. I found this '85 in the local want ads and liked that the body work and paint were fresh and flawless. Terry Anderson, the guy who owned it before me, does paint and body at Akins Ford in Winder, so the GT had received some new/old stock parts - including new windows - and many hours of labor."
It had also been fitted with a new roof, according to Joe. The hatchback originally came with T-tops, a desirable option for restorers and collectors, but not so much for aspiring drag and road racers. Terry knew the T-tops leaked and caused the body to flex, so he re-skinned the roof. The solid top may not look as cool when cruising the Sonic parking lot, but it helps stiffen the chassis when flying around corners.
That explains the color and roof, but what's up with the flying rodent we see on the hatch lid, seat headrests and cargo hold?
"I used to own an '87 LX coupe - a former Florida state trooper car," Joe explained. "It had a few mods and a lot of nitrous oxide. That small-block Ford outran a Chevy big-block that belonged to a local racer, so since it was faster than a 'Rat' motor people started calling it 'Mighty Mouse.' Since then, all of my Mustangs have been called 'Mighty Mouse.'"