The car: 19641/2 Ford Mustang
The owner: Sherman “Sonny” Stevens, Atwater
1. What are the key features of your vehicle? It is a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang convertible. It’s one of the first produced, according to the vehicle identification number.
2. What did you have to do to get it in its present state? I had to replace the dash pad, carpet, and I polished and shined it up.
3. What else do you want to do to it? There are many other things I need to do to it, including replacing the seat covers, have it painted, replace the rag top and polish the chrome.
4. How did you acquire your vehicle? I acquired my vehicle in 1979 after my father passed away and I inherited some money. I took that money and purchased this car from Leonard Rich, owner of Rich’s Auto Body. I really did not have to do a whole lot of work to get it into its present condition. I had to have the engine overhauled and added a fan so the motor does not overheat while being driven in a parade.
5. Why did you pick that particular vehicle and what do you find appealing about it? The reason I picked this car is because I am a Ford man and I had always wanted to get a Mustang. I just really like the looks of the car. I also always wanted to have a convertible.
6. What started your love affair with cars? My love affair with cars started when I was about 9 or 10 years old and a grammar school student living in El Nido. I would stop by Mr. Dougherty’s repair shop on my way to and from school. I would sweep the floors for a Coke. I watched Mr. Dougherty work on cars and farm equipment. I helped him work on a 5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton motor. I took it apart with Mr. Dougherty’s help and put it back together. We were both impressed that it started up the first time. From that time on I was hooked.
7. What advice would you give others about starting such a project? My advice to others starting a project like restoring any old car is plan on doing the hard work. I was fortunate. I did not have a lot of work to get this car to its present condition, but I went through several other Mustangs before I found this one. Most of the others required a lot more work.
8. Do you have any other collector vehicles or project cars? I do not have any other collector cars, but I have owned many vehicles in my lifetime. My all-time favorite car that I owned was my Model A that had a 1948 Mercury motor in it. The Model A was when I was a high school student at Chowchilla High School. I really wish I had never sold that car. I also own a 1947 John Deere tractor that I would like to restore.
9. What’s your favorite memory about this ride? My favorite memories are driving my Mustang in various parades in Atwater and Chowchilla. We have taken the car on a car club road trip to Mariposa, cruised Main Street in Merced recently when a gathering was posted on Facebook. In 1987, a not-so-favorite memory is when I allowed my 16-year-old daughter to cruise Main Street in Merced. She had too many friends riding with her, plus being caught in traffic the car overheated and blew the head gasket. So I parked it in the garage until my children were grown up, and then I repaired it eight years ago. Now I have grandkids who are driving and they want to drive the Mustang, but I am not ready for that. It has become a tradition that on the last day of school they want to be picked up in the Mustang.