"The Gift Horse"
Jay & Laura Waite's 1966 Pony Convertible
We call this Mustang the Gift Horse because it was a gift to me from our customer. Jay and I had been in business for a few years, while taking care of this car and it's ownera tall thin European man, with strong beliefs in purity and right and wrong. He and I got to talking one day while we were servicing the Mustang, and I told him
that I have always loved his car, and that I thought it was beautiful. He balkedeverything about the car was forty years old, it was a rust bucket….. I looked at him with wide open eyes, "Don't you know what you have here?" I said. "This is a 1966 Convertible PONY! The body is straight and it still has the original engine! Guys would kill for this! It deserves a full restoration." He laughed at my passion, and said, "Awe sure, you'd put big chrome wheels and a bigger carburetor, make it a hot rod". I said "No way! If it were mine, I'd bring it back to stock, showroom quality!"
Years went by, our business grew, and we saw the old man and his Mustang a couple of times a year, but less and less as time went on. Every so often, he would check with me to see if I still wanted it, and of course I did. Then one day, he came in, but I didn't see the car, so I thought he must have broken down. I hung up after my business call and greeted him. He then slid the keys across the counter and said. "It's time I give you this car. I can't see well enough to drive anymore." I said "You can't!! Why don't you sell it? You know it's worth thousands of dollars!!" He said, "I want you to have it. I want you to restore it the way you told me you would". I then told him that I couldn't take it for nothing. I would have to pay him something for it. After much negotiation, he finally settled on a $500 donation to the Salvation Army, which I gladly made in his name.
The car sat in my garage for the next two or three years until we had the opportunity to refinance our house and pull out enough money to restore the car. My husband and I spent one weekend and took it completely apart, every nut bolt and washer. We took inventory as we went, and took pictures and video to help with short memory problems. We found a good body man through one of our employees (body man turned out to be great!) and we had the engine and transmission rebuilt by neighboring shops, and spent the next nine months bringing this pony back to life.
The car was just completed in May 2008, and we have researched extensively every detail. It was such a fun project!
The old man still comes around. He walks everywhere now, but he had a lot of fun watching the restoration, and was very pleased when we showed him our first place trophy from the Spring into Summer show in the concourse driven class, which was the very first show this car has been in. I think we did this restoration justice!
- Laura Waite
"The Gift Horse Keeps on Giving"
Mustang Roundup 2008 - I have been to this show many times but this year was the first time entering my own car. I think we did pretty well because while sitting and visiting with other car owners, a man came over and asked if he could take some pictures for this magazine (Mustang Enthusiast). He was a free lance guy who had been hired to cover the show, so I agreed and began to tell him the story of the car. His eyebrows went up, and he said that maybe I should submit this as a feature article. Then the judges came over and started in, and I watched as they took about TWO HOURS to finish checking every square inch of the car with a magnifying glass...ok no magnifying glass but you get the picture. One person with a clip board would read out the requirement and the three other judges would inspect, and to Jay's and my gratification would often call out "no deductions".
Then on Sunday at the People's Choice show, I sat by the car by myself, just watching people. Suddenly in front of me was Lance Lambert of the Vintage Vehicle Show, and when he was done talking to someone, he walked away a car or two away from mine, and realized he wanted go the other way so he changed direction and walked right past our car. I watched his face as my car caught his eye and he veered to take a closer look. His expression was all the trophy I will EVER need. He looked and looked and finally turned to me sitting about ten feet away in the sun and asked if this was my car. I said "Yes its mine" and he walked over and introduced himself, and I said, "I know who you are, would you like to sit down?" He and I sat and chatted for about 15 minutes and he arranged to have the camera crew come back and conduct an on-camera interview with Jay and me. We will be getting a copy of the DVD in about 2-3 months and they will let us know when it airs, but needless to say we were extremely honored. Our car also received a "MNW President's Award", and at the awards ceremony, the car achieved GOLD, and I really felt like I had won an Academy Award. With my own cheering section, Jay insisted that I be the one to accept the award, even though he did the lions share of the work. He says we wouldn't have the car if it weren't for me. I feel like I have kept my promise to the man that gave me the car, and that we will have done him proud.