The only memory I can recall from age three was a ride in my dad's 1967 Mustang convertible. That was also the last time it was ever driven.
For the next 10 years, it sat in our driveway, slowly eroding. The bumpers, mirrors, and other trim eventually found their way into a pile in our shed. Our different cats over the years tore a gaping hole in the roof. I once had to crawl into the back seat to get our cats kittens out of it. Every other year my dad would put a new tarp over it, but within 9 months each tarp would disintegrate. I don't blame my parents for not having the money to afford insurance or upkeep on an extra car, but occasionally I wonder why they decided to neglect such a gorgeous car.
In 2000, the car had to be moved out of the driveway. My dad had a friend who was going to load it onto a flatbed tow truck and store it at his garage. I remember talking to my dad while inflating the tires, and he seemed to think that with some gas and oil, the pony would roar to life. I then remember being mildly disappointed when the move started and one of the axles refused to turn at all. For the next 4 years, I completely forgot it existed.
Then came the day my dad said he had to move it. His plan was to move it to the back lot at his work. I was upset when he returned home. The pants he left in were covered up to his knee in mud. Apparently the car sat on outside of the garage, next to a water hose that leaked. I couldn't believe it sat buried in 2 feet of mud for 2 years. I thought the worse was over and it maybe he would put it in the barn in that back lot. No such luck.
At this point there wasn't even a hint of effort being spent to maintain it. Tatters of different tarps hang off the windshield and drown every time it rains or snows. Once, one of the employs allowed a huge semi tire to smash into its rear quarter panel. My dad tells me that a few times every month, people stop in asking if he's selling it. Every time, he says it's not for sale.
He has an attachment to it. My grandmother left it to him when she passed away. It's hard though, to understand and accept that attachment when he's let it decay to where it has. I've always told him when I grew up and had a job, eventually I'd take it and fix it up. I've always been afraid though that if I took it to a body or restoration shop, they'd say the best option is to scrap it. And yet, I continue to slow accumulate the savings to start restoration.
This car, and that one ride when I was three, is what got me interested in cars. I still have hot wheels mustang cars that are uncannily similar to this car. I remember obsessing over the paint color building a model mustang. I remember when I worked for my dad, and finding excuses to go to that corner of the lot and stare at it. I recently found an early photo of it in one of my mom's photo albums. It's the only picture we have of the car, and shows it in decent condition. The picture currently is in my office, where I occasionally think about the times I've told my dad I would fix it.
This is why I've entered this contest. I'm by no means the best writer, but this feels like a calling. I read the article on this contest and immediately thought of my dad's Mustang. I wouldn't use this money to take a vacation, or pay off student loans. This money would jump start my pony restoration. I don't have grand plans for this fix either. This would be nothing more than a restoration. I want to return this car to its former, 1960's muscle car glory. Same paint, same color top, same hubcaps, same color interior.
I'm not afraid of the rust, rot, cracks or gigantic number of issues I'm bound to discover once I start the restoration. The only thing I'm truly afraid of is never being able to fix it up. So please Jalopnik readers, let me ride in this car again.