1968 Ford Mustang: A Very Reliable Ponycar
John Graham was impressed with the new Mustang when Ford introduced it in 1964. But the ponycar really captured his attention after a fastback model was added to complement the coupe and convertible body styles.
Good fortune came his way when a colleague sold him a Mustang that had been built in Ford’s San Jose plant in 1968. That friend was about to get married and the stick-shift Mustang had to go.
Graham knew the owner and knew that the Mustang had always received first-rate maintenance. More importantly, Graham’s wife, Ginny, had no trouble operating a manual transmission.
They bought the Mustang, one of 42,581 such models manufactured that year. It came equipped, he says, “with the deluxe interior package with a stock 289-cubic-inch V-8 engine and a four-speed manual transmission.” The base price of the 2,659-pound car when new was $2,712 — just over a dollar a pound.
For years, weekends found the Grahams making an 800-mile round trip to southern California where both of their families lived. “The car was so reliable,” Graham says, “that it was amazing.”
While in the Air Force, Graham helped keep the fleet flying. Consequently, he learned to respect regular maintenance. “I’ve always changed the Mustang’s oil every 3,000 miles,” he says.
After his discharge, Graham thought about selling the car, but was convinced otherwise by his daughters Jennifer and Kristy, who reminded him that he had brought them both home from the hospital in the Mustang.
When Graham retired, he thought that would be a perfect time to restore his Mustang. With 376,000 miles on the odometer, he started to take his car apart, and sent out both bumpers to be replated.
Power front disc brakes and power steering units were on the car when it left the factory, as were the black deluxe interior with the overhead console and deluxe walnut trim. Graham added fog lights in the grille cavity. “The car is equipped pretty much like I would have ordered it,” Graham says. “An air conditioner would be the only difference. I will never sell the car so we decided to have it the way we wanted it,” Graham says.
The AM radio with 8-track tape was replaced with an AM/FM radio with cassette, and the original steel wheels with hubcaps were replaced with chrome “Magnum 500” wheels from the 1969 Mustang accessory catalog. Finally, after all these years, Graham got the “red” Mustang he has always wanted. When the Wimbledon White paint was stripped off, the body had no rust. “We couldn’t believe it,” Graham says. He now has a very red paint that shines brightly on the Mustang.
“If you told me a car could be that reliable for that long I wouldn’t believe it,” he says. Yet, the proof is parked in his garage.