Jerry Heasley
November 10, 2016

Our “Rare Find” this month is mystery. While hunting cars in the Southwest, we ran across an old Mustang that had been sitting in a field for many years, and we don’t know exactly what this vehicle is. So, maybe a reader will recognize what we’ve found.

Sometimes uncovering a Rare Find is not the most difficult part of the sleuthing process. Knowledge is power in this hobby. Many a Rare Find remains undiscovered until somebody sharp enough to know what they have found comes along to claim the prize. Obviously, the shape of this vehicle is a 1965 or 1966 Mustang hardtop. However, the VIN is gone due to extreme body and chassis modifications many years ago that turned this unibody Ford into a single-purpose drag car.

On first look, “LAWMAN” script on the rear quarter sounded very familiar and was almost an aha moment. We checked our files. In 1970, Al Strickland built a “Super Boss” Boss 429 as part of the U.S. Performance Team driving program.

This 1965 hardtop has been highly modified from stock long ago.
On the driver’s side rear quarter is the name “LAWMAN” in capital letters and a caricature of a lawman wearing a cowboy hat and holding two pistols in the air.
The entire front end—hood, fenders, headlight buckets, and valance—is fiberglass. The front end also tilts forward and lifts off, as well.

But, the name “Sonny Burke” appears faintly on the driver’s door of this hardtop. So, we see no apparent connection between these two cars. Our feeling is this Mustang was probably not a factory effort. Factory-built racing cars are, of course, very valuable. More than likely, an independent racer put this Mustang together for drag racing, perhaps for the A/FX class.

FX, in the ’60s, was short for Factory Experimental. Did individuals build A/FX cars for the strip? Manufacturers dropped the largest engines they could into highly altered production vehicles. The sanctioning bodies also configured classes for B/FX and C/FX. Although the engine in this Mustang is long gone, we did find “427” painted on a fender, hinting at an A/FX-style build. The 427 in a 1965 Mustang would have been the biggest engine from that time frame.

Lifting off the front end revealed an old straight axle, but no engine.
The digits “427” painted on the driver’s side front fender is an obvious reference to a big-block Ford FE engine.
We found “Sonny Grobe” painted on the driver’s door.

So, can anyone look at our photos and unravel the history of this old Mustang? We’ve snapped enough photos to pretend readers are along with us on the hunt.

Please send us any information to help reveal this car’s provenance to jerryheasley@gmail.com. When we uncover the status of the car, we’ll add the information to this column. And if you run across your own rare find, take photos (a smart phone camera is fine) before removing car archeology, or contact Jerry Heasley first.

Follow on Twitter @jerryheasley.

Contact Jerry Heasley for Rare Finds leads at jerryheasley@gmail.com (NOTE: Make sure to take pictures before removing car archeology or contact Jerry Heasley to take the images before car is removed.)

Lifting off the fiberglass deck lid revealed a battery box and dual fuel lines.
Inside we found this roll bar.
The interior featured gauges, an aftermarket steering wheel, and no radio.
The interior had one fiberglass seat.
The front passenger side fender reads, “Pit Crew”, “Don Itra – Devona”, and “Marc & Kris.”
The roll bar integrates with the door latches.