RARE FINDS

Mus­tang pur­chased for $50 is a fam­ily heir­loom—now it just needs to be re­stored

Mustang Monthly - - CONTENTS -

MOST OF US SOLD OUR MUS­TANGS BACK IN THE DAY FOR WHAT­EVER REA­SONS, AND

THEN WE WENT ON THE HUNT FOR THEM LATER. Ken Spera is dif­fer­ent. In­stead of selling, the re­tired New Jersey fire­fighter stored his 1965 Mus­tang in a garage—in 1977! Only re­cently did he get the car out for a restora­tion, re­triev­ing a barn find he planted (and re­planted) for him­self 40 years ago. So tech­ni­cally, this isn’t a rare “find,” since it’s been in the same fam­ily for decades, but it’s still a cool story of a car that the owner re­fused to let go.

Ken says, “I bought it, be­lieve it or not, for $50 in 1973. My wife’s friend got in a lit­tle ac­ci­dent. She smashed the front end be­low the hood, be­tween the fend­ers.”

Clas­sic Mus­tangs were not clas­sics in 1973, and a wrecked ’65 hard­top wasn’t worth much, but Ken was in high school and needed a set of wheels. He re­placed the up­per and lower valance, ra­di­a­tor sup­port, wa­ter pump, and front bumper. For a grand to­tal of $200 the teenager had a ’65 Mus­tang with a 289 two-bar­rel, au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, and bench seat.

He and his wife went on dates in that car and got mar­ried in Au­gust of the same year they grad­u­ated from high school. Ken rolled the odome­ter from some­where around 30,000 to 93,000; then he stored the car in a garage he built next to his house in Belleville, New Jersey, and that was it. He never drove the Mus­tang again. So, why did he keep it all this time? He ex­plains, “I’m a big Ford guy. I didn’t want to give it up. I couldn’t see send­ing it to a junk­yard. I love the car.”

Ev­ery­where that Ken went the car was sure to be hauled and given its own room. In 1998, Ken and his wife built a new house in Bayville,

New Jersey, where he stored the ’65 Mus­tang in their two-car garage. He re­tired as a fire­fighter in 2002 and moved to Ken­tucky in 2008. While his new house was be­ing built, Ken rented a stor­age unit in the Blue­grass State for a year to house his Mus­tang.

Ken says, “It’s still in my base­ment to this day. Since I moved out here

I’ve had a cou­ple of­fers for the car as a sur­vivor, be­fore I took it apart. But, I couldn’t come up with a num­ber and I just couldn’t do it. My two older boys won’t let me sell it and my wife will def­i­nitely not let me sell it be­cause it came ba­si­cally with us be­fore we were mar­ried.”

Now re­tired, Ken has fi­nally de­cided to start a restora­tion. Ob­vi­ously, he is a Mus­tang en­thu­si­ast, but not a col­lec­tor. He came by his Mus­tang as a used car, a di­rect link to those Bruce Spring­steen, New Jersey Glory Days in a young girl’s eyes—some­thing Ken didn’t ar­tic­u­late in those ex­act words.

In­stead, he is try­ing to re­cap­ture the magic, as so many of us do, with tech­ni­cal ques­tions. He is cu­ri­ous about the color Ar­ca­dian Blue, which he does not find in source books for 1965 Mus­tangs. His ’65 hard­top was

built, ac­cord­ing to the data plate tag, on May 10, 1965. Our guess is by this late date in the model year Ford had added Ar­ca­dian Blue, which source books do list for 1966 Mus­tangs. Also, this paint was avail­able in 1965 in the Thun­der­bird line. Just as­crib­ing rel­e­vance to those 20th cen­tury dig­its rekin­dles flames of de­sire.

Ken’s cu­rios­ity about the rar­ity of the bench seat op­tion in his hard­top was an­other one of his ques­tions that gives mean­ing to the Mus­tang. The ex­act num­ber (for 1964½ and 1965) is 14,905 in the hard­top, com­pared to 372,123 with bucket seats.

This 1965 Mus­tang is the car they couldn’t sell. Ken and his wife kept it all these years, and now they have de­cided to get it out and do a restora­tion.

How many 289s are left with the orig­i­nal Au­to­lite two-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor?

Ken and his wife went on dates in this car in high school and got mar­ried the sum­mer after grad­u­a­tion.

The orig­i­nal pur­chase price was $50 in 1973. The caveat was that it was a slightly wrecked Mus­tang.

This Mus­tang came with the rare bench seat op­tion.

This Mus­tang is not high per­for­mance or su­per rare, but emo­tions and mem­o­ries mean noth­ing can re­place it. This ’65 Mus­tang is a fam­ily heir­loom with a 45-year fam­ily mem­ber­ship that comes with room and board, and now full health care as well.

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