Bair Customs



I’m pretty sure that if it weren’t for cars like this ’66 Mustang GT convertible, I wouldn’t be here writing about these amazing pieces of history. The Mustang didn’t start the muscle car craze, but it did define an entire generation of hardware coming out of Detroit (or Dearborn), driving millions of Americans into high performance, sporty, fun-to-drive cars that sold by the truckload. No matter if you’re into GM or Mopar instead of Ford, you have to give the original pony car credit for lighting the fire that created some of the most memorable cars ever built.

This particular car is a recently restored (finished just before Christmas 2009!), matching numbers, A-code GT convertible with a 225-horsepower 289 and a 4-speed manual transmission. Painted in the original Candyapple Red with a black interior and white top, this is the car most folks think of when you say, “I’ve got a Mustang.” And honestly, can you think of a better way to get from Point A to Point B on a sunny summer day than behind the wheel of this car? Hell, even if you’re just going from Point A and back to Point A for the sheer enjoyment of driving, there are few better companions than a drop top Mustang with a V8 soundtrack and a transmission that gives your left foot something to do.

Here’s the data plate decoded:

Body: 76A (Convertible, standard bucket seats)
Color: T (Candyapple Red)
Trim: 26 (Black Crinkle Vinyl, Standard Interior)
Date: 17L (November 17, 1965)
D.S.O: 34 (Indianapolis)
Axle: 1 (3.00:1, Conventional)
Trans: 5 (4-Speed Manual)

The car has received a frame-off rotisserie restoration, which is fully documented with photos and receipts. Every step of the process was documented so that you can see how the car started, the work that was done, and, obviously, the final result, which is gorgeous. The goal with this car was to create a top-notch driver that would be reliable and show-worthy for years to come, and they hit the bull’s eye with it. The guys at Big Hemi took this car apart and repaired every single flaw before spraying a drop of that brilliant Candyapple Red paint. Yes, the floors are new, as are a few of the body panels, but the workmanship is first rate throughout—honestly, does anyone still freak out over new floors in an old car?

They spent a lot of time and effort over at the body shop getting this car to look and fit right, and you can see from the photos that the gaps are very good, and panel alignment is first rate. I like the deeper, darker Candyapple Red a lot better than the Poppy Red used in ’65, which wasn’t quite sure if it wanted to be orange when it grew up. This is definitely the car to drive if you want to be noticed—I guarantee you’ll have perfect strangers asking for a ride when you pull up in this pony.

Mustangs, as popular as they are, have a vast aftermarket supporting them, and the trim and other bright work on this car is a combination of restored original pieces and quality reproduction items. The bumpers are straight and wave-free, while the GT grille with integrated fog lamps is a very nice reproduction piece. All the stainless has been treated to an expert polish, including the convertible top moldings which were done by Reckon Plating. The glass looks new all around, too. The white rocker stripes and Mustang lettering have been expertly applied and look great.

The engine is a well-dressed 289 small block V8 that is original to this car, casting number C60E 9425-B. The original engine tag reads as follows:

289 Displacement
C Cleveland engine plant
66 Model year
10 Design change level number
5-L Motor build date (November, 1965)
250-S A-code 289 4-barrel/premium fuel

The engine was treated to a full rebuild then dressed in a glossy coat of Ford Blue engine paint that looks dynamite in that red engine compartment. Everything around it was detailed for show, and is correct, from the markings on the coil wire, to the FoMoCo washer fluid bag, to the hoses and clamps. The brake master cylinder has the correct finish and warning decal on the lid. The battery is a correct Autolite reproduction with red caps, and all the original decals and markings have been replaced. Of course, with Mustangs being as popular as they are, there’s just no excuse not to do it up accurately, especially given all the parts that are available for these cars.

Underneath, you’ll find a clean chassis that has been thoughtfully undercoated for durability. It isn’t a heavy, thick tar undercoating, either, but more like a textured black paint that still allows all the detail to show through. Of course, there’s also the original 4-speed manual feeding a 3.00-geared 9-inch rear, but everything else has been similarly restored to new condition. There are new lines and hoses, fresh U-joints in the driveshaft, and an expensive reproduction exhaust system from CJ Pony Parts. You’ll also notice some of the beefed-up suspension bracing that came standard on all convertibles and was correctly reinstalled on this ragtop—some of the bolt-on pieces get removed by shops who never bother to reinstall them, but they’re all present and accounted for on this car. New Mustang styled steel wheels from Wheel Vintiques wrapped in 205/70/14 BFGoodrich T/A radials give the car just the right stance.

Bucket seats up front with a four speed shifter get things moving in a hurry. You hang onto a new reproduction Mustang steering wheel while sitting on all new upholstery bolted down onto new carpet. There’s a set of color matched floor mats and new sill moldings below, new door panels on the sides and a new dash pad up front over the GT gauges. New chrome pieces from the door handles in brighten things up without looking too flashy. Ssnake-Oyl supplied the new seat belts for front and back seat occupants. The white vinyl top is brand new as well, well fitted by the experts at Garrett Auto Trim at a cost of over $1100. The trunk is just as detailed as the rest, too, with a new mat, a new spare tire and the correct jack. Pull up the mat and find solid sheet metal and a new fuel tank pad. Throw in the lounge chairs and cooler and head to a show, or pack a couple weeks’ worth of clothes, pick up your best friend, and tour the country. This car can and will do it!

I mentioned documentation earlier, and this car certainly has a lot of it. There’s a large binder full of restoration photos and receipts. I didn’t total everything up, but restoring a car to this level costs more than sending a kid to college these days. There are also those restoration photos I mentioned earlier, some early paperwork from previous owners, owner’s manual, Ownercard (Ford’s version of the Protect-O-Plate), and some 1966 Ford brochures. There’s also a summary sheet included that details all the parts that make this a 100% matching-numbers Mustang.

Early Mustang convertibles are universal cars—everyone likes them. They’re fun to drive, cheap to maintain, parts are plentiful, and you’re a celebrity wherever you go in one. The fact that they made millions of them has exactly zero effect on their value for these reasons, so picking one up now can also be considered a smart investment, since prices on these cars is only going to go up. Nicely restored ones like this ’66 GT ragtop command a premium when they carry matching numbers and a great color combination, and you’ll be able to drive and enjoy this car while it appreciates. That’s the very definition of smart investing. So call us today and put this pony in your corral before someone else rustles it out from under you.

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