You were bitten by the car bug thanks to a VW Bug, right?
Yes — it’s ironic. My parents had a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle convertible and I always had a soft spot for it while growing up. I’ve always loved these cars and best of all, they still own it. So whenever I visit them I always make sure that I get to have a drive in it.
Your first car was quite interesting...
It was a first-generation Mitsubishi Pajero. It really was a great car and although it was not the fastest, it proved to be exceptionally fun during summers. It was a two-door and one heck of a solid recreational vehicle. Since the Pajero, I have to admit that none of my subsequent cars have been worth shouting about. I do like the Volkswagen Golf and have owned a bunch of those.
You can’t go wrong with a Golf. If money was no object, which cars would you buy?
I have so many, but if I had to narrow it down, I would love to own a Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA (1965-69 model years) while a Porsche 911 Targa (1965-83 model years) shouldn’t be missing in anyone’s list. Neither should a 1971 Dodge Charger with a 426 cubic-inch (7.0-litre) Hemi V8 and at last but not least, I’d want an Iso Grifo 7 Litri.
Those Isos paired Italian flair with American power. Quite a combination. Speaking of American cars, your 1965 Ford Mustang is a beauty.
Thank you. The dream to own a Mustang started during my first year of studies while I was in Hamburg, Germany. I always loved these cars — their heritage, style and power. Having saved solidly for almost 20 years, I was finally able to splash out on such a car in September last year. It was around the same time when my wife was expecting and I was wondering which one of my “babies” would come first. Our son won the race but the Mustang followed two weeks later.
A bouncing baby boy and a stunning Mustang. You must be a very happy man. Where did you find your Ford?
Well, about two-and-a-half years ago, I met a distant relative, Norman Cantori, during a family gathering in Munich. He restores classic cars for a living and we got talking. He asked me if I would like to have a look around his workshop. I jumped at the opportunity, hoping to come across my dream car. Lo and behold, there it was! A 1965 Ford Mustang in mint condition. Unfortunately, it was his wife’s car and not for sale.
But we discussed how much a Mustang in this kind of condition would cost and also what sort of work and how much time and effort would be required to restore a similar model. He’d already restored several American muscle cars and gave me the lowdown. We went through all kinds of details together and it gave me a solid understanding of the amount of time that would need to be set aside and the sort of money that would be required to finally own a Mustang in top shape.
This put you off the idea, did it?
No, I was even more excited at the prospect even though I knew it would be a long and winding road. Norman was going to travel to the US to buy five or six cars for some of his customers and that is when I asked him to look out for a Ford Mustang coupé with manual transmission and a nice V8 engine for me. Just two weeks into his trip, he called to tell me that he had found the car I was looking for in Florida. I was very pleased.
The ‘Stang was shipped to his workshop where he completely rebuilt it over 14 months. It wasn’t in a really bad condition — not for a 45-year-old car. There was almost no corrosion on the body or the chassis while the engine was running smooth. It was evident that the previous owner had taken good care of it but it was time to take it to the next level.
What did you have in mind in terms of restoration?
I always wanted it to be as original as possible, so I avoided any major modifications to the engine and concentrated mainly on safety and convenience features. So we improved the brakes to give it better stopping power, a new alternator and a second battery to supply power directly to the extra electric fan to help keep the engine from overheating and added a new AC. The car and the engine were stripped down to the bare bones and rebuilt from the ground up.
One of the most difficult and lengthiest processes was deciding on the colour. It came with a baby blue paint job, but as the original colours are quite difficult to match and in my opinion, not as good as the range available today, I decided to paint the car in a totally different shade than what was on offer in the Sixties. I opted for Midnight Grey with a burgundy and white interior.
It looks great, and I guess goes great too what with a V8 and four-speed manual…
The 289 cubic-inch (4.7-litre) has plenty of power and lots of torque and can still burn the rear wheels if I get a little eager. It sounds fabulous, even if I do say so myself. This car always makes me smile when I take it out for a drive or even when it’s just parked.
It’s given you a problem, but not the sort that classics are associated with…
That’s right — the only problem it has given me is that it’s got me hooked on classics and I am thinking of buying a second old-timer!
Do it! What sort of reaction does it get when you are out and about?
It’s mixed; most really like it and want to take pictures of it but others must think I’m crazy to spend money on such an old car when modern ones are available for far less and are more comfortable, economic and reliable.
Finally, this one is for keeps isn’t it?
Yes, my plan is to pass this car on to my son once he is old enough to drive. I just hope fuel will still be affordable because this one chugs it back like there’s no tomorrow.