This Mustang’s galloped through 14 owners
Bill Holman is well known about town. Go to an event at the Miners Foundry and you’ll find him tending bar. Go to a chamber of commerce mixer, and you’ll see him there schmoozing.
Attend Nevada City’s Constitution Day Parade, and you might recognize him as President Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885), one of the Marching Presidents, all duded up in his black suit and stovepipe hat. No doubt about it, Holman gets around.
Another place you’ll find him is at Mustang meetings, because he’s the proud owner of a 1966 Mustang Fastback-GT, K-code car that spells f-a-s-t.
Whereas many people like to boast that they are only the second owner of an oldie, Holman says boldly he’s well neigh the 14th owner of his.
“I found my current Mustang on the Internet through the Nor-Cal Shelby Club Web site,” he says in an article he wrote for his car club’s newsletter. “The car was a stock K-code when the previous owner bought it, but was soon turned into an open track car. By the time I bought this Mustang it had seen track time at Laguna Seca, Sears Point and Thunderhill in Willos.”
The Petaluma man he bought it from had, luckily, saved all the stock stuff, making Holman very happy. “I had to bring a truck and trailer to load the parts onto,” he says, “things like four complete sets of wheels and tires, original steel-style wheels out of factory; the original bucket seats.
“When I got it home I had to civilize it. The heater, radio, and wipers didn’t work, because they weren’t needed for track. I didn’t have to do a lot, though. After all, it had only 3,500 miles on its present engine.”
While he paid $13,500 seven years ago for it, he estimates it’s now worth about $20,000.
It’s all in the engine, he says of the K-code designation. While it’s the same popular 289 cubic-inch engine as the “A” code, about 20 modifications – from stronger main bearings to thicker harmonic balancers – have turned it into a tiger that develops 271 horsepower at 6000 rpm.
One of the first things he had to do was learn to control this tiger, so off he went to a high-performance drivers’ school at Thunderhill Park in California. The article he wrote about this experience describes the intensity and thrill of what it’s like to let her out yet feel in control following “the line.” Pretty heady stuff.
Where did this passion for speed come from? “Speed,” he says, “is like an adrenaline rush. It’s a challenge to make the car go faster, safer.” As a teen he took part in drag racing. With no money but with lots of willingness to work on cars, he and friends would “buy old junkers for $50” and fix them up. In the early ’60s they were really into old flathead Fords. Before that, as a youngster, it was go-carts and scooters.
A technical graphic artist, Holman, 60, has lived permanently in Nevada City for 16 years, enough time to get well involved in the community. A past board member of St. Joseph’s Cultural Center, a member of both chambers of commerce, and a member of the founders circle of Miners Foundry, he is also on the board of Vietnam Vets, an organization that helps veterans and their children (he himself served from 1961 to 1975).
In his spare time he does sports. “I fish (trout in lake and river), and I mountain bike at Tahoe along the river.” He’s loyal, too. Some of his friendships go all the way back to third grade.
Is Holman racing his Mustang now? Well, no, if the truth be told. “I haven’t been out in three years,” he admits. Given that a driver “can go through a set of brakes in two days and that race fees for one day along can be $250, “a weekend could cost you $800, and that’s just too expensive,” he says. Cruising to Tahoe is more like it. “I take it out sporadically. It’s not a daily driver, considering its gas mileage is about 10 (miles to the gallon), and high test at that.”
The comfort factor is a consideration as well. “A car that’s set up for racing has a stiff suspension,” he says. “I went to a family reunion in San Luis Obispo, thinking it would be fun to drive this car down; but by the time I got there I couldn’t hear and I felt like I had been in a football game – not comfortable to ride in, but still fun to drive.”
Anyway, he’s too busy being a man about town with all his activities, and simply enjoying life here in Nevada County. “It’s a slower pace of life (than the Bay Area from where he comes), the people are friendly, and it’s so beautiful. I have a view (on 20 acres) that people would drive four hours to find and camp out for.” That, alone, could be worth staying home for.
Pam Jung writes about classic cars for The Union. She can be reached at 265-8064. She welcomes suggestions for stories.
For more information
The Nor-Cal Shelby Club Web site: http://www.norcal-saac.org
Local Mustang club meets the last Tuesday of the month. Call Rick Briggs at 639-2803 for information.
For more information on the K-code engines, Holman recommends “The 289 High Performance Mustang” by Tony Gregory. Other information on Ford high performance engines can be found in “The Off Highway Parts Book,” published by the Ford Product Information Center. If hard to find, he suggests going on eBay.
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