First love proves lasting for mustang owner |

First love proves lasting for mustang owner

Submitted photo by Ron Cherry

For car people who have one particular year, make and model that just “does it” for them, it’s hard to explain why. It’s like it can be difficult to explain why you fall in love with one person and not another: an emotional thing rather than reason and logic.

When Eric Starnes was 16 years old, he wanted to buy a ’66 Mustang as his first car. They were built the same year he was born, and he had loved them all his life. His parents were against it (isn’t that too often the case with your first love) and wanted him to get something more “practical,” but Eric persisted and they finally agreed. The car was nothing special, just a white coupe with a low-horsepower 289 CID engine, but Eric was head over heels in love. Unfortunately, when he went to college, he was forced to sacrifice his love. But she was never forgotten.

After college, Eric ended up working overseas for 16 years, and Mustangs are not plentiful outside of the U.S. When he returned this year, Eric went on a quest to find a ’66 Mustang. There was never a question of flirting with other cars.

“It was always only a ’66 Mustang for me,” he says.

He hooked up with a Mustang mechanic in Sacramento and gave him his wish list for a Mustang: a red convertible with a white top and red and white “pony” interior, rally package with dual exhaust, dual side mirrors and fog lights, power steering and power disc brakes, rally wheels and a manual transmission. It was not exactly like his original Mustang but a sexier version of his first love. He never expected to get everything on the list, figuring on settling for about half of the specifications on the list and upgrading the car after purchase.

In March, about two months after making the list, the mechanic called him and said, “You won’t believe what I found.”

Sitting in a warehouse in Redding was a Mustang that fit the bill almost to a “T.” The only difference was that it had a C-4 auto trans instead of a stick. It had been restored in 2002, driven for four years and parked in storage. As an inland California car, it had a rust-free body and frame. It even had original 1966 license plates with tags from 2006. When he went to see it, Eric says there was never any doubt he was going to buy it. And he did.

He says, “It’s the one toy I’ve afforded myself after years of hard work.”

Eric’s reincarnated love has a couple of other non-stock additions, but they are improvements rather than detractions. It has an aftermarket air conditioner and aluminum radiator, which are nice if you are sitting in traffic on a hot day. Eric has had a chance to check it out since he has put about 5,000 miles on his Mustang since he bought it. He joined the Roamin Angels to have a group of fellow car nuts for cruises, parties and serious car talking. After all, driving a classic car is the reason to own one. And while it may not be a fountain of youth, being with his first love makes him feel young again.

Eric says, “When I first sat in that Mustang, it was amazing how similar it felt to the one I had as a teenager.”

That’s what love can do for you.

For more about Ron Cherry and his writing, see The Roamin Angels Car Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary of its founding this year. For more information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, go to, call 432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, PO Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or just stop by IHOP on Taylorville Rd. Some Friday at 6:30 am for breakfast.

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