She has some wear – but she’s perfect
As far as I can remember, I have always been a car person; I’ve always loved the curves of a classic.
As a teenager in California, I started going to car shows as often as possible. There was a local Classic club that met at the nearby Burger King every Thursday, and I would go every week to walk around looking at these beauties. I got to know the owners and the stories of their cars, and we would chat about my dream of owning a 1964-½ Ford Mustang. I never thought it would actually happen.
In 1999, my dream turned into reality.
I bought the car in 1999 sight unseen. At the time, I was bartending in California and was on the phone with the guy I was dating. He was working at the local Honda dealership and the car pulled in.
Knowing my obsession with classic Mustangs, he said, “You should see this beautiful old Mustang that just pulled in.” I asked him to find out what year it was and heard the owner’s response, “It’s a 64-and-a-half.”
So, without missing a beat, I said, “Ask them if they want to sell it and what price?”
The 64.5 convertible was my dream car, and knowing how rare the 64.5 was, I had to have it. That afternoon, I was doing inventory at the bar and couldn’t leave just yet, so I had my boyfriend come and get a check. Thirty-five minutes later, the car was mine.
After purchase, I attempted to drive the Mustang the first day I got her, but I stalled out several times and gave up. She was garaged until I moved to Oregon in August 2001, where it was, again, stored.
I finally drove her for the first time just a few years ago when my neighbor and dear friend’s son and his buddies saw the car in the garage and asked to try and get her running. At the time, the boys were seniors at Tigard High School and loved working on cars. They pushed her out of the driveway, started doing their thing and brought her back to life for me.
At that time, I decided she was worthy of a name. Because I was frustrated with her issues, I named her Hellanor Betty Ford for putting me through hell! I then joined several Classic Mustang First Generation groups on Facebook and started learning all I could about my girl.
She was born on July 29, 1964, in San Jose, Calif., at Ford’s West Coast manufacturing site. The last of the 64.5s were built in the next two days, and the 1965 model started production on Aug. 1, 1964.
Hellanor Betty Ford is Wimbledon White and has an inline six-cylinder engine putting out 170 horsepower to go with a three-speed on-the-floor transmission.
I have never restored a car or owned a classic before, but Mustangs have always been my favorite. My first was a brand new 1992 Mustang LX 5.0 Convertible that I got when I turned 16. I remember my mother also owning a custom Mustang Fastback in the late 1960s.
One day I would love to restore Hellanor Betty Ford to her original glory, but at the same time, I think I’d be afraid to drive her and mess up the beautiful new paint job or anything else. She’s not a show car and has some dents and dings, chipped paint and a torn interior, but she’s perfect in my eyes.
The biggest conversation piece is the engine size. Most people associate the Mustangs with the 289 cubic inch V8 and are intrigued or confused by the smaller 170 that most don’t even know existed.
I get different reactions while driving it. I’ve been videoed, photographed, followed, and yelled at once when the exhaust sprung a leak on my way home! Not everyone appreciates a classic, I guess.
My advice to those considering a classic car: know that there will be tears shed, frustrations and anger. But keep your eyes on the prize. Nothing worthy comes easy, and you will run into different problems over and over again.
I appreciate any and all classics. I love seeing them when the weather starts to warm up, and I dream of driving my old girl down Route 66 and Highway 101 along the coast back to San Francisco, where I was born.
One day, I hope to pass her down to my son when he learns to appreciate the classics as I do.
MY RIDE: TIGARD is an occasional series written by Tigard locals with interesting rides to share. If you’d like your ride, and the story behind it, to be featured in a future issue of Tigard Life, contact Mike Antonelli at email@example.com or 503-692-9215.