Car Restoration Projects
Jim and Gill Gibson have owned two of these legendary automotive-equines and like the gal said in Mack Rice’s 1965 song, “All I wanna do is ride around”, they loved doin’ just that. The accompanying Kodak Box Brownie photos have been through the mill, unfortunately.
In the mid-1970s the ‘Gibbos’ were living in Brisbane and bought their first Mustang. This light-blue, 1967 coupé was in first-class condition, having been professionally converted to RHD.
It came with a 289 cubic inch Windsor V8, a C4 auto, power steering and factory integrated air conditioning. The aircon needed some immediate attention, but the car was otherwise OK.
When the Gibbos returned to Sydney, it had to be re-registered.
That meant changing the rear blinker system, as it had the original US red brake/blinker light system. An Australian conversion kit that you can buy these days was not available back then:
“So, I converted the reversing lights to blinkers, by rewiring them and fitting amber lenses,” said Jim Gibson.
As Jim had a company car at the time for weekday use, Gill used the Mustang as the Gibsons’ daily driver with new son, Jeff, as shotgun, cradled in a blue denim papoose. This was his indoctrination into the blue oval Ford Mustang family and he spent several years riding around in the family Mustang as his mum’s sidekick.
Now in his forties with the financial responsibilities that go with having a family, Jeff still lusts after a Mustang: “Dad, the day will come,” he reckons.
In the mid-1970s, there was a Mustang Club in Melbourne, but not in Sydney. The Saturday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Vehicles For-Sale section was the weekly automotive injection for those wanting used cars, parts and anything else.
One Saturday in late 1977, the ad read:
Mustang owners, I would like to start a Mustang Owners Club in NSW. If you own a Mustang and are interested, please meet up in the car parking area at the Woronora Dam off Heathcote Rd, on Sunday week at 10am – Eric Lang.
The Gibbos did and sure enough some dozen ’Stangs rocked up with partners and family on board:
“Gill and I were there, with Jeff, of course,” said Jim.
The gang formed the NSW Mustang Owners Club in the late seventies, with great enthusiasm and these days, there’s a Mustang Owners Club of Australia with an affiliation in every state.
The Gibbos’ blue Mustang was well enough presented to enter several Ford club- affiliated concours events.
“I remember one that was held at the Nuford dealership in Lakemba,” said Jim.
“The first prize was a trip to the USA, but our car missed out by a half-point, because of a small drill hole in the rear parcel tray.
“A 1934 Ford coupé owner was the lucky winner.”
Several years later the family and business commitments changed, and unfortunately there wasn’t any room for the Mustang in those plans. Regrettably they sold old faithful.
How many of us have sold cars that we wish we hadn’t, like the Gibbos with their first blue Mustang, although circumstances at the time may have necessitated it?
The second time around
A few decades passed before Gill and Jim decided to buy another Mustang. This time it was a red 1965 auto coupé, needing some TLC.
With the project ensconced in the shed, Jim opened the toolbox and got to work.
“The engine needed some fettling, so out came both the engine and transmission,” said Jim.
“The engine needed a set of piston rings and bearings and the C4 scored fresh O-rings and seals.
“The front-end spring saddles and shocks also need attention.”
With the engine bay fully accessible it was resprayed with satin-black paint.
The seats were in good nick, but Jim enhanced the interior with a centre console.
“I also installed a ’66 dash, as the original ’65 instrument binnacle reminded me too much of an early Falcon,” he said.
“I also put in a professional taillight conversion kit, which instead of having three red lenses, had two red for brake and taillights and the outer one amber for the blinkers.”
With the exterior red paintwork buffed up, the Mustang looked a real glamour. But as the saying goes, ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’.
“When I bought it I know I was anxious to buy another Mustang, so I must have looked at it through rose-coloured glasses,” Jim confessed.
“I’ll admit it wasn’t my best buy.
“Although it looked the part, it was a left-hooker six that wasn’t a good enough example to give to Jefff, eventually, which was always our plan.”
The Gibbos used it for a short time – a couple of sexagenarians reliving their youth – before they sold it.
In the intervening years, since obtaining his driver’s licence at 17 years of age, Jim Gibson has been a keen Ford owner.
“Fords that have passed though my hands include three Customlines,” Jim happily recalled.
“One was a ’54 flathead and two had OHV 272-cubic-inch engines.
“The first of these was a low-mileage Black ’56 model and the second was an absolute ’57 cracker that I bought from the Geoghegan brothers on Parramatta Road in Homebush, Sydney.
“This car had a very rare, genuine Ford tachometer installed in the dash.”
To give this beauty a voice, Jim fitted Jack Myers’ exhaust headers and twin Lukey mufflers to it.
‘I reckon the exhaust note was enough to make an angel cry!” said Jim.
“That’s another bloody car I wish I still owned.”
There were several other models with the famous blue oval that Jim has owned during those many licensed years and he fears son Jeff has caught the ‘Henryitis’ disease as well, so it must be in the Gibbo genes.