The Time is NOW to Get Kids Into Cars!
Young Guns: Some examples of parenting done right—from Mustang Monthly’s perspective
In the January 2018 issue, the editor’s column and a story inside the magazine introduced readers to young Frankie Waters and her passion for her 1967 Mustang fastback project. That story and column elicited more comments than we’ve gotten in quite some time, showing that it hit a real nerve about saving our automotive hobby and industry by getting young people off their cell phones, out in the garage, and interested in cars and, hopefully, Mustangs.
This month’s cover story is on the Rebuilding Generations program that does just that—gets kids working with adults to build cars while teaching the generations about each other. Kids and adults alike learn new things through the program under the guise of mentorship, and great cars come out of it as well. It’s a real win-win. This story is meant to show more real-world examples of young people and their passion for Mustangs using their own words and pictures. We started it off with the story of Timothy Baba and his two daughters as they restored a Mach 1 (which you may have seen on Mustang-360.com back in December).
Papa’s Race Car
J.M. McLain, from Lake Elsinore, California, wrote in to tell us about his grandson, who already has the Mustang bug. He said, “Our grandson, Jacob, has been a Mustang enthusiast since he was a toddler. He would go out to the garage with Papa and work on Papa’s ‘race car.’ The ‘race car’ is really a 1965 fastback that has been on the project list for over 20 years after the framerail ended up in the trunk compartment. It's a work in progress but holds a special place in our grandson's heart and mind.”
Jacob doesn’t live very close to his grandparents anymore, but his grandfather said, “He still remembers working on ‘Papa’s race car.’ He visited us a few months ago and he was out in the garage ready to work on the Mustang with his grandpa. He is eight years old now and is anxious to learn more about Mustangs and cars in general. He and grandpa decided it would be cool to get the car running so they could hear it rumble. Jacob was grinning from ear to ear. Because of his great love of Mustangs, we ordered him his very own subscription to Mustang Monthly so he and grandpa can look at it together across the physical miles that separate them now. He also learned how to change a tire. Grandpa taught him how to remove the lug nuts, jack the car up, use jackstands and place the tire under the car for safety, rotate the tires properly, and tighten the lug nuts in the star pattern. It gives his grandpa great pleasure that the disappearing desire for working on muscle cars is still strong in Jacob.”
Making Memories Together
Joey Burkman read the Hoofbeats column on HotRod.com and wrote to say, “It had me reflecting back on so many memories from my youth, building cars and friendships. Late nights in the garage with buddies firing up the latest engine build at 2:00 in the morning to break in the engine…no, the neighbors weren't very appreciative of that, to say the least.
“The reason for my email is to talk about my son Logan who turned 16 this past June. He currently has his learner’s permit and he is very enthusiastic about cars. He purchased his first car over this past summer from the money he saved from his part-time job, a 1991 Mustang GT. We’re no strangers to Mustangs here as I’ve owned several over the years. He currently has it in the garage ready to pull the engine to deal with the oil leaks, and the plan is to swap out the AOD for a manual. While it’s up we’ll also address the almost 30-year-old suspension. The car sat for a number of years, the paint is faded—quite badly actually—but the interior is very clean and the ashtray door works! It’s hard to believe looking at it from the outside that it only has 86,000 miles on it. We continue to source parts for it and have hit a few swap meets, which has been a huge help. The memories we’re making and the time we’re spending together on his car are priceless. I hope that one day when he has his own son he’ll look back and remember all the great times we’ve shared.”
Mechanically Inclined Kids Are Still Around, and I’m the Proud Parent of One!
Linda Cocce of Wayland, Massachusetts, says:
“My son John became fascinated with my ’64½ Mustang at a young age. He would have slept in it if allowed. To keep him happy I made him a Mustang bedroom with a custom rug, comforter, curtains with radio knob ties, and later he added Chip Foose signed Mustang emblems to the wall. He read everything he could about Mustangs, especially Mustang Monthly.
“If the Mustang was going in for service he was there trying to help. He was like a sponge—he wanted to know how everything worked; luckily, we had a very patient mechanic who would take the time to explain things to him. This just piqued his interest even more.
“He never had an X-box, computer games, or was allowed to watch TV during the day, so for fun he played outside with friends or used his tools to fix something. His fascination with motors continued, and soon other people’s discarded machines filled the garage. He would take them apart to see how they worked and make a new contraption out of the parts. By age 15 he started his own lawn care business. When his machines broke down, he’d fix them himself. This led to John repairing broken go-karts, mowers, chain saws, etc. for people in our town.
“He is 21 now, studying to be a mechanical engineer. During his summers, he works in his landscape business, fixes machines, and works as a mechanic in a garage. The first thing he packs when heading off to college in the fall are his tools!”
A Ford Family Through and Through
The Hamilton Family lives in Eastern Oregon and are dyed-in-the-wool Ford people, with all the kids into building their own Fords, including a few Mustangs and Mavericks. The family patriarch Marvin wrote, “I was glad to see other families doing what we have been doing for years. I have five children (four daughters and one son) and all have received an old Ford at the age of 13 and began the process of tearing down and rebuilding on their own car. We have three Mustangs (a ’67, ’72 and ’73), two Mavericks (’75 and ’72 Grabber), and a 1967 F100 Stepside truck. My son Marvin is the second to oldest and he has been there for every car from day one. He has an amazing thirst for knowledge and a big heart. My daughters Cassie, Neali’i, Nive, Teelay, and Lani have also had the thrill of their first car and the pain of busting their knuckles on a flywheel (that is how you learn). I have been blessed to see how they have taken what they have been taught and use it to diagnose and repair an engine problem. I have also gotten my wife, Tile (pronounced “TEE lay”), into the game. The kids and I pulled together and built her a beautiful 1997 convertible with three-stage paint, and I had her in the 100-plus summer heat swapping out the top.”
“We are Hawaiian and Samoan; we do great BBQ and have fun with cars. We attend an awesome church where there are members with more Ford parts stored in their houses and out buildings than in Detroit, and our pastor always works his ’65 Mustang into the sermon one way or another. We are all about trade at the church and I have traded paintwork, beef jerky, BBQ (I make the best), and child labor for parts. If my kids need a part or something they want but don’t have they look to them for trade and go work for the part or the help fixing it. Not only do they learn the love of cars they learn community and the value of ‘trade’ (trade is a lost art). So many memories to share with my wife and kids and their cars.”
The Longest Summer of All Time
Tommy Ratatsidis has been into cars his entire life, saying it started when he was a toddler, “My friends call me obsessed. I think it’s in my blood. My mom and dad bought a brand-new 1988 LX hatch when they got married, and when I was 3-4 years old my dad would street race his 1978 Cobra and my mom would take me to watch him race his LX. My dad always had Mustangs growing up.”
Dad’s stable included the ’78 Cobra, as well as a 1971 Boss 351 clone, a ’78 King Cobra, a ’73 Mach 1, an ’88 coupe, “and many in between.” When Tommy was 15, he worked at a car wash for the summer and saved everything he could to find a project car. He said, “I had my heart set on a 1969 SportsRoof. I would have settled for a shell, then work from there. Every week the Auto Trader would come to the shop and I would go through it on my break and the prices for first-generation Mustangs were starting to climb and climb and the cars were junk—rotten garbage cars for too much money. Then one day I was skimming through the pages and found an ad for an original-owner 1978 that ‘had to be seen’ according to the ad. I got home that day and told my dad, ‘You need to drive me to see a car!’”
With a mere $500 in his pocket and expecting to find a basket case, the car turned out to be clean and spotless with no filler and Tommy asked his dad what he thought. “He turned to me and said, ‘This is your car and your money, go make a deal.’ So [the owner and I] went to the backyard patio table and I told him I only had $500. He gave a look that said, ‘Do you know how much the car is worth?’ I told him I’d work all summer and could make $1,500 to $1,700 maximum, and he said $1,500 was enough. I offered to give him the $500 as a deposit and he said, ‘No, the car will go back in the garage with your name on it.’ We shook hands and went on our way. It was the longest summer of all time. I worked and made money and phoned him every two weeks to update him on how much more money I had. Finally at the end of August I got to go pick up the car. I couldn't drive of course, so my dad drove it home but I couldn't have been happier. Right away I yanked the four-cylinder drivetrain out to make room for a 351 Cleveland and automatic.”
Tommy later swapped the gas-guzzling Cleveland for a 302 and five-speed combo that he blew up street racing, so now the car has a 5.0 EFI engine from a 1989 Mustang GT and a Vortech blower. He also just added a 1978 Cobra to the stable, saying, “Now I have a newborn and wanted a project for her when she’s older, so we picked up a clean ’78 Cobra originally from Texas that had been sitting in a garage since 1983. My brother followed my footsteps and bought his first car when he was 15, a 1974 Mach 1. He’s 17 now and works incredibly hard and has a 1991 Fox coupe and a 1987 Bronco. We love our Fords; it’s in our blood.”
The Top of His Class
Don Cort wrote to tell us, “My wife and I recently purchased a Mustang for our son, Donny. He then taught himself, with my help, and worked through to complete a ground-up restoration of this 1966 Mustang GT hardtop. He stripped and restored the entire car by himself. He rebuilt the 289 engine and four-speed transmission, completely stripped the body, straightened it, then painted it and then reassembled the entire car with a full detailed nut-and-bolt restoration. He worked through the entire interior (bench seat car), wiring, and suspension as well. Essentially, the 15 year-old completed the entire project himself with some guidance in a year and learned incredible skill along the way, which put him at the top of his entire school’s automotive class as a freshman/sophomore. I offer this as an example of what is possible with our younger generation if opportunities are available. The pride, knowledge, and skills he gained were incredible and I could only hope you may find it in your best interest to reflect this in your fine magazine so others may see the light and opportunities available to the younger generation which may occupy their minds with something other than a video game, a cell phone, and the rest of time-wasting devices which so many are lost in.”
Absolutely Mr. Cort!