In 1965, Jim Licata, the late Barney Clark, and I bought a 260-cubic-inch V-8 Ford Mustang, made during the first week or so of production. The passenger’s seat did not move. Adjustable front passenger seats were optional in early Mustangs to keep the price really low.
I had a scale sideview drawing of the Ford Mustang coupe, and after twenty minutes of thinking and drawing, I had the profile I wanted. I kept the side-glass daylight opening, cut the roof at the high point over the driver’s head, cut the sheetmetal just above the rain gutter, and recapitulated the little joggle around the backlight. I drew up side glass that followed the fender contour and roof profile (note that the glass is taller at the front lower corner and the rear upper corner than it is directly above the centerline of the rear wheel).
I removed the gas cap on the rear panel, added Mustang lettering there, put the fuel filler behind a door on the left rear fender, and cut the three-part taillights so that the tailgate cutline ran between the outer third and inner two-thirds. This created, for safety, a taillight when the tailgate was down. I added a lock on the rearmost part of the deck lid, which was retained. Turning that lock with the key caused the backlight to retract into the tailgate, which could then be dropped to make a horizontal platform. I added bar linkage so that you could sit on the tailgate.
I made the rear seatbacks fold and added fore/aft movement to the passenger seat. I redid the interior in a new black material, including carpeting on the lift-up rear deck to allow access to the spare tire.
The car was originally white, because that’s what was available from Ford stock. Intermeccanica repainted it red at my request.
“We were so impressed by the original American paint job that we tried to repeat it to show how thick the paint was,” Intermeccanica told me. “We finally achieved it after painting it seven times. But don’t worry; we didn’t charge for the time or paint. We just wanted to see if we could do it.”
Translation: Intermeccanica was impressed by the heavy orange peel in the paint and finally replicated it, which is undoubtedly why Barney had Kar Kraft, Ford’s neighborhood body shop, re-repaint the car in British Racing Green, add stripes and the lamps in the grille, and install the accessory instrument package and various other options.
I think those thin sidewall tires were on the car from the beginning, as well as the Kelsey-Hayes “styled steel” optional wheels.
I was in the Turin, Italy, shop when Intermeccanica took the car for paint. Workers were scurrying around, looking for jumper cables. I said, “No, don’t bother, just turn the key.” The car had been sitting for months. And after a bit of cranking to fill the carburetor’s float bowl, it started, provoking much hooting and hollering from the Italians.
“Ah, these Americans! Imagine, it started immediately!” The workmen were as much in awe of American electrical reliability as they were of our superb painting technology.