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Wheels: Rare pony

A 1968 Ford Mustang T-5? T-5, you say, what’s a T-5? It appears that early on, Ford manufactured and exported Mustangs to Germany to be primarily purchased by our military overseas. They were bought at the base exchange and driven while the servicemen were overseas, and then they were allowed to bring them home with them when they returned.

These Mustangs were badged as Fords with a T-5 emblem. There was never the word “Mustang” anywhere on the car. It would seem that there was a conflict of trade names with a company in Germany that was already using the word “mustang” for a light duty truck.

As close as I can tell, these Mustangs, or properly termed “Ford T-5s” were manufactured at the Metuchen, N.J., assembly plant for export. To the best of my knowledge, this is the same plant where the Shelby Mustangs were manufactured in limited numbers as well. I suspect this plant may have been set up to do limited runs, as it is no longer in existence. I’m also sure that there will be more than one person who is much more knowledgeable than I am on Mustangs who will provide me with more than I want to know about these cars.



The car featured today is indeed an original and very rare (one of 109, to be exact) T-5 fastback Mustang that was built in 1968. The present owner, Jerry Brown (no, he doesn’t know Linda Ronstadt) has owned the car for six years. When he purchased the car, it wasn’t running and was torn completely apart and needed a total restoration. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Brown bought the Mustang from a person who had retired from the Air Force. Brown didn’t know the exact history of the car or how it got back to the United States. But I’m guessing that it came back with someone in the Air Force and was probably traded around as people were discharged.

The T-5 has been totally restored back to its original condition with Wimbledon white paint and red interior. The 289 engine has been rebuilt, while the 3-speed transmission was replaced with a 5 speed. Brown very cleverly, however, has managed to adapt the 3-speed shifter so that it appears like nothing has been modified.




The car has power brakes and a rear end ration of 2.79 to 1. I suppose that was so it could keep up on at high speed on the Autobahn. I’ll bet it took some work with the clutch pedal to get that Mustang moving with a 3-speed transmission and high rear end ratio.

The Mustang is a feast for the eyes with all of the beautiful workmanship, fit and finish. It was an award winner at the Sacramento Autorama this past year.

Not seeing the word “Mustang” anywhere on the car takes some getting used to. But all of the exclusive badging that they replaced it with is quite unique.

Brown drove a 1930 Ford 5-window coupe with a ’48 Mercury engine in high school. Like most of us, he went through enough cars in the early ’60s to fill up a museum these days. Cars such as a ’59 Impala custom, ’50 Ford convertible, ’56 Chevrolet, ’57 Ford-the list just went on and on. Brown says he loves working on his cars and tinkering around. As I was in his shop and home, I saw several of the things he has “tinkered” on, like antique jukeboxes, gas pumps, barber chairs, and numerous pieces of antique furniture.

He has one skill that didn’t manifest itself until we were sitting at his kitchen table, taking notes-dog trainer. His chocolate Lab, Tule, came in and laid down by us. After a moment, Brown said, “Tule, I’d like a beer.” As God is my witness, that dog went to the refrigerator, opened the door, got a beer off the shelf, brought it back and handed it to him. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve been trying, for 36 years, to teach my wife to do a similar trick for me. And I haven’t succeeded yet. Good job, Jerry.

ooo

A week ago Wednesday, a group of the Roamin Angels went down to Sacramento Raceway for the “run what you brung” bracket races. They had a great time. I wish I would have gone with them. If you’ve never tried bracket racing, especially with friends, it’s great fun.

I tried to go to Fast Friday’s last week for the speedway motorcycle races, but the event was rained out. Will attempt it again soon, and give you a report.

Don Dickerman, president of ABATE, a local motorcycle group, notified me that May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. I’m a little tardy letting everyone know this, but I figure better late than never.

Have you guys all heard of the new CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle)? The automotive designers would have us believe that this is a totally new and daring concept. A 4-door vehicle built on an automotive chassis, with room to carry children, a dog and groceries in the back. Sounds to me like a good ol’ station wagon. But that’s just cynical Jack. At least when we had station wagons, they didn’t all look exactly alike.


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