Back in November of last year, a Georgia man drove to North Carolina to pick up a 1968 Ford Mustang fastback, but when he arrived, he found a surprise. In the passenger seat sat a mason jar filled with the ashes of the pony car’s former owner. The story, originally written last fall by MustangFanClub, is absurd.
Zach Taylor is a total car nut, which isn’t surprising since he comes from a family that runs Napa Auto Parts stores in Georgia. He currently works for the school system in Atlanta, and is the proud owner of a 1968 Ford Mustang California Special, a 1966 Ford Mustang Fastback, a 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, a Lexus LX (a “Lex Cruiser,” as he calls it), a 2001 Honda S2000, and a Subaru WRX.
So in the summer of 2017, when he spotted on Craigslist a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback for sale in nearby Franklin, North Carolina, he had to pick up his phone and give the seller a call. He wound up talking with someone who claimed to have listed the car for a friend who didn’t have internet. That friend was named Bruce, and after received his number from the person on the line, Zach called him up and later drove to North Carolina to take a look at the pony.
Bruce told Zach that he had been a friend of the original owner, James, and that he had planned to fix his friend’s old car, but couldn’t, so it was time to let the car go. Bruce and James apparently used to live in Florida, but after the latter died, his family decided to sell the car to Bruce, who brought the fastback up to North Carolina.
That’s where, in July of 2017, Zach drove from Atlanta to find the 1968 Ford Mustang—an “S-Code” GT car with the special paint option, a four-speed manual, and a big 390 cubic-inch motor—sitting in a chicken barn. Looking at the vehicle’s interior, Zach found what looked like a pickle jar in the passenger seat. I’ll let MustangFanClub describe what happened next:
While Zach was looking over the interior of the Mustang, he noticed a jar full of something that looked like powder. Zach, asked the owner, “What’s up with the jar on the inside?” The current owner replied, “That’s James!” Zach took a moment to gather his thoughts and understand everything that was just said. After a brief pause, Zach responded with “Well, does James come with the car?”
Based on his conversations with Bruce, and especially the fact that the seller seemed to speak about James as though here were present, Zach told me he was certain that the jar indeed contained the ashes of Bruce’s friend, James, whose name was on the car’s title.
Bruce was, according to Zach, an extremely eccentric character who, after Zach had initially decided not to buy the car, called the potential buyer back in the early hours of the morning to talk about his times living with James in Florida, and other random topics.
Zach told me over the phone that between July of 2017—when Zach had first laid his eyes on the Mustang and the apparent remains of its former owner—and November, 2018, Bruce kept calling and texting, with Zach guessing that he spoke with Bruce probably between 30 to 50 times over the phone in the span of about a year. Zach found this strange, but remained patient.
By November, 2018, Zach and Bruce agreed on a price of $7,000, so the former drove back up to North Carolina and picked up his new pony.
After deciding the car was in too rough of condition to fix (likely because the previous owner’s family had left the car outside in Florida), and after cleaning the hideously filthy interior and installing a set of polished hubcaps, he listed the car—which came with the original keys and title, as well as the remains of the former owner—to eBay and sold it to someone in England for $23,300.
A restoration shop on the Isle of Wight called Corner Classics is in the process of giving the car a new body shell for one of its clients. Here’s what the car looked like as of the shop’s post on April 31:
It’s a bit of a shame that this Mustang’s original sheetmetal won’t be preserved, but I guess it’s a better outcome than the car just rotting away inside an old barn.
Hopefully, when the car is finished, there will be a place for James to ride along.