1968 Mustang was teen’s good-time car

Farm Forum

Like many teenagers in 1979 Steve Zimmerli had a summer job, however, he did not have a car – or a driver’s license – so he hitched a ride to work each day with his father.

A traffic signal by a church turned red as father and son approached the intersection daily. One day while waiting for the green light young Zimmerli saw an attractive Mustang convertible in the church parking lot. Each day that week he admired the Mustang at the church, but by the following week it was gone. Surprisingly, the next week the Mustang reappeared on the church lot. This became a pattern all summer long.

One day in August a different route to work was taken and on a residential street Zimmerli spotted the same Mustang. The owner had parked it in front of his house and placed a “for sale” sign in the window. Two prospective buyers were already looking over the 1968 model.

Zimmerli and his father waited their turn to examine the car. That’s when the owner explained the on-again, off-again sightings of the car at the church. He said that he commuted to work with a friend. They would meet at the church and each would drive every other week.

Zimmerli struck a deal for the Mustang convertible, but since the teen did not have a driver’s permit the seller followed father and son home and then Zimmerli’s father returned the seller to his house.

With an incentive like a 1968 Brittany Blue Metallic Mustang with a white convertible top in the garage it wasn’t long before the teenager studied to successfully acquire a driver’s license.

During the 1968 model year Ford produced 249,447 Mustang coupes, 42,581 Mustang fastbacks and only 25,376 Mustang convertibles. A six-cylinder engine was standard equipment with six different V-8 engines offered as optional extras.

Zimmerli’s Mustang came powered by a 289-cubic-inch, V-8 engine that delivered 195 horsepower to move the 2,745-pound Mustang. When new the convertible had a base price of $2,814. Initially, the V-8 was fed fuel via a two-barrel carburetor, which Zimmerli has replaced with a four-barrel carburetor for enhanced performance. When Zimmerli acquired the car the odometer read 112,000 miles. The mileage figure now is a mystery because the odometer was reset when the engine was overhauled.

The 1968 Ford Mustang served Zimmerli well during his two remaining years at high school and also while he was away at college. Eventually, with holes in the floor pans, rust on the frame and smoke from the engine, Zimmerli put his well-worn convertible in storage.

Zimmerli always treated the Mustang as a good-time vehicle, so while restoration was being completed in 1998 he made some refined updates so his wife could enjoy driving it. The Mustang is currently equipped with power steering, as well as front disc brakes.

The still sprightly Mustang convertible rolls on stylish polished chrome Mustang Rallye steel wheels mounted on a very maneuverable 108-inch wheelbase. From the driver’s seat the half horn ring does not intrude on the driver’s view of the instruments.

A pair of indentations on the engine hood conceal small lights to alert the driver that the turn signals are flashing. At the rear of the Mustang, Zimmerli borrowed from a Mercury Cougar the upscale apparatus that transforms the taillights into sequential operation when the turn signals are activated.

The power mechanism that operates the white top is original but the fabric has been replaced. Over the years the Mustang has worn three coats of paint and been restored five times. That averages out to a restoration every nine years.

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