You never know what’s hiding inside that old barn
Photography by the Rare Finders
“Rare Finds” are Mustang treasures uncovered by enthusiasts. Most have been either abandoned or neglected, although some may be well-preserved and just out of sight for many years. In either case, these Mustangs have been hidden away for a long time and rediscovered. For the past 25 years, I have written these stories for a Rare Finds column. The emphasis is on the photos of the cars as they were found and the story about how they were discovered to jolt readers with the thrill of hoping that one day they too might uncover a Mustang treasure.
(Editor’s note: Readers might be interested in the book, “Jerry Heasley’s Rare Finds: Mustangs & Fords,” published by Car Tech and available at www.amazon.com. Signed copies are also available from the author by sending an email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Saga of the Shinoda Boss
For decades, Mustang collectors searched for Larry Shinoda’s personal ’69 Mustang. It wasn’t until 2011 that John Grafelman realized that the ’69 SportsRoof in his barn (shown above), near Peoria, Illinois, was the long-lost 428 CJ Mach 1 that the famous Ford designer had used as a Boss 302 prototype. When Shinoda was helping create the Boss 302 name and graphics in late 1968, he used his own private car as a canvas.
When Grafelman bought the Mustang in 1976, he was buying a Mach 1, not a Boss 302. Little did this farmer from Illinois realize that he had purchased Shinoda’s Boss 302 “graphic prototype.” The gentleman who sold him the car only mentioned that the fastback had “some Ford history.” Two years after the 1976 purchase, Grafelman stored the ’69 SportsRoof in one of his barns.
Then, several years ago, son Jason, now grown, went to visit family in California and talked to a Ford guy about the car back home in his father’s barn. “Your car could be worth millions,” the man said after hearing a description. Jason found a picture of Shinoda’s Boss prototype and noticed how closely the car looked to the one he had seen in the barn all his life.
The more Jason and his father looked, the more special features they found – prototype rear spoiler and window slats, smooth rear quarters without the’69 fake scoops, Momo steering wheel with “LB” (for “Larry’s Boss”), and C-stripes with no Boss 302 logo. Finally, they verified the car’s history through Kevin Marti’s Ford database. It was the Real Deal.
Most Rare Finds pop up in other people’s barns. Grafelman found his in his own barn.
Two Colts for a Mustang
In 1989 in El Paso, Kenneth Pasquarell spied an abandoned ’65 Mustang fastback under a pine tree in Reid Davies’ backyard. Although the sun had bleached the original Caspian Blue paint, the body appeared ding-free. The odometer read just 40,000 miles.
Davies’ mom bought the six-cylinder fastback new in 1965 at Kemp Ford in El Paso. As is often the case, the car held sentimental value and was not for sale. In 1996, Pasquarell moved to San Antonio but he didn’t forget the vintage Mustang and Davies’ promise, “I’ll give you first chance if I ever sell it.”
Opportunity day came in May 2010. Pasquarell and Davies made a long-distance deal; in exchange for the fastback, Davies got a pair of vintage pistols, a Colt Single Action Army Revolver (introduced in 1873 and often touted as “the gun that won the West”) and a Colt Bisley. Both pistols came with documentation back to 1901 when they were shipped from the Colt factory.
Amazingly, with a fresh battery installed, the Mustang started up and ran. Pasquarell took the car apart and stripped the paint to find a mostly rust-free Mustang except for a little rot in the bottom of the doors.
GT/CS with a CJ
For several years, Mustang collector John Johnson noticed the back end of a Mustang poking out of a garage in a neighbor’s backyard. Curiosity finally got the best of him. In 2006, he introduced himself to his neighbor, John McGilvary, who lived about a mile from Johnson’s home in Alpine, Utah. As Mustang enthusiasts, the two had plenty to talk about and became friends.
McGilvary bought his ’68 California Special brand new. But the Brittany Blue hardtop wasn’t just any GT/CS. Of the 3,867 California Special hardtops built in 1968, only three came with the 428 Cobra Jet engine. McGilvary’s was one of them.
Then one day, McGilvary asked Johnson if he wanted to buy the car. “I jumped on it,” says Johnson.
The coupe wasn’t running and needed new rear quarters, but the floorpans were solid. Best of all, the car was complete with the original 428 Cobra Jet backed by an automatic transmission. With help from restorer Armond Diogastinni, Johnson has brought the rare California Special back to life.
Real Barn Find
The comment “Dan has an old Mustang in one of his barns” got Kurt Zabel’s attention. The high school chemistry teacher from Hastings, Minnesota, had just discovered that his mom’s new beau, Dan DeVaney, had bought a Mustang in the 1960s. Unfortunately, his mom did not know the specifics.
Two years passed before Zabel found out more. DeVaney had purchased a new ’64 ½ while he was in Southern California, but he sold the car in the early 1970s. Buyer remorse sent him scurrying for a replacement. He found another ’64 ½, which he drove back home to Dell Rapids, South Dakota, and parked under a tarp in one of his parent’s barns. It sat there for the next 30-something years.
Zabel uncovered a complete 60,000-mile car with no rust or body damage except for minor dings. The engine was frozen so Zabel found an old 260 for $30 and performed a complete engine rebuild. The next summer, Zabel tackled the interior. Amazingly, he was able to save the original Vintage Burgundy paint.
Diamond In The Rough
Dave Chapple sent photos of a ’71 Mach 1 he found parked outside, under a car cover, in the woods. I wondered how a car cover could keep a car this nice over 18 years – 1992 to 2009. With the cover peeled back, the white Mach 1 looked like a sparkling diamond in the rough. No wonder Chapple remarked, “I almost had a heart attack.”
Chapple discovered the Mach 1 during a heating and air conditioner service call to a home in Flagstaff, Arizona. He asked the owner if she wanted to sell the Mustang. The answer was yes.
Investigation revealed a ’71 Mach 1 with a 351 Cleveland four-barrel engine backed by a C6 automatic. By factory order, the body did not come with the hockey stick side stripes or blackout hood. The single graphic is the stripe across the back of the trunk. Otherwise, the body is plain Wimbledon White, accented by black lower rockers.
Chapple bought the Mach 1 for a reasonable price and towed it home. He replaced most of the fuel system, rebuilt the carburetor, and fired up his rare find.
6,452-mile GT 350
At the Barrett-Jackson auction in January 2011, I met LaWayne Musslewhite, a Canadian lottery winner who was buying Shelby Mustangs at the auction. That’s one reason why Ford collector Marty Burke told Musslewhite about a 6,000-mile ’65 Shelby GT 350 parked in the garage of its original owner.
Right away, Musslewhite called the owner, Jerry Mendes. A few months later, Musslewhite and his wife drove from their winter home in Phoenix to Sacramento to inspect the ’65 Shelby. What Musslewhite found astounded him. Parked on blocks in a hobby shop-type garage was a ’65 GT 350, 5S242, with original paint and stripes, packing its original 289 High Performance that had never been rebuilt, very odd because Mendes bought the car specifically for drag racing.
Mendes bought the ’65 new in January 1965 at Mel Burns Ford in Long Beach, California. That very day, he drove his new Shelby to Performance Associates, the same company that modified Shelby American’s GT 350s for drag racing. Essentially, Performance Associates built Mendes’ Shelby using the same formula as the eight Shelby drag cars. When Mendes stopped drag racing his GT 350 in 1968, he kept it as a “retirement toy” and bought a Cobra Jet for the strip. Other than occasional street racing in the late 1960s, the car sat until Musslewhite became the proud new owner.
Urban Legend Comes True
Michael Hudock “did a lot of searching, traveling streets, knocking on doors,” but could never find the ’68 Shelby GT 500KR that he had heard was in a field somewhere in East Liverpool, Ohio. Maybe the car was just an urban legend?
Then Hudock got a call from someone looking at a KR convertible in East Liverpool and wanted to know his opinion of value. Could this be the elusive KR that Hudock had been hunting for years?
Although Hudock did not have a location, he did get the VIN, which led him to someone named Ronhausen who lived in East Liverpool. When the local phone directory showed no such name, ditto for a Google search, Hudock resorted to old school tactics by phoning a friend in the area. The friend checked with former school classmates and came up with a Bruce Ronhausen in town.
Hudock drove by Ronhausen’s house and - wonder of wonders - there was a Lime Gold ’68 GT 500KR convertible, barely visible through wooden latticework and vines.
The owner had inherited the KR when his brother was killed in a motorcycle crash. He drove the KR for a number of years and had plans to restore it, just “never had the means or ambition.” So the car sat in a field for nearly 30 years. A lean-to was built over the car in the early 1990s.
Hudock made a deal for the Shelby. In June 2011 it was restored and on display at the All-Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.