An American icon

BY Larry D'Argis. Aug 26 04:00 am

In 1965, the Ford Motor Company approached legendary racer, car designer and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby about qualifying the Mustang as a sports car to compete in the Sports Car Club of America competitions.

As a result, Shelby and Ford created hundreds of GT 350 fastbacks for competition and for public sale. Shelby American even produced 16 coupes in 1966 that competed in the A/Sedan Group 2 class of racing. With the Mustang’s success, more began surfacing in competition, including the coupe model. Many individual racers saw the opportunity to take these lightweight coupes to the next level as racers and they often fared well in competition.

Today, the Mustang fastbacks and convertibles from the 1960s are coveted collectibles. The vintage coupe is also a player in the market, but can be had for much less of an investment, even though it offers much the same driving characteristics. Back in 1966, the coupe was priced only $231 less than the convertible and $191 less than the fastback — but today their values are far less than the other models.

Because of the price differential, the coupes are probably on the cusp of being a hot commodity. With their classic style, ease of maintenance and the plethora of restoration and performance modification parts available in today’s market, it makes them a great buy. Drag car, slalom racer, street machine, classic cruiser or pro touring — all are within your grasp equally with a coupe.

For Derrick Ramsey of Winnipeg, growing up in the ‘60s in Brandon, the Mustang left its mark.

“I would go to the Brandon Fairgrounds with my dad and watch the Canadian Hell Drivers do their stunts driving Ford Falcons and Mustangs,” says Ramsey.

In 2013, Ramsey started looking for a Mustang fastback project, but the cost of acquiring one and getting it roadworthy would have taken him far over budget. In late 2013, he found a 1966 Mustang coupe for sale in Shebandowan, Ont., just west of Thunder Bay. Looking like a solid car online and after trading emails and photos, Ramsey and his friend Paavo hooked up the car trailer at 4:30 a.m. and headed east to look at the Mustang.

Originally a Wimbledon White car, it had been repainted Signal Flare Red with white stripes. Inside was a black vinyl interior with bucket seats and centre console. Under the hood was a jewel, as the coupe came with the optional 271 horsepower high-performance 289 cubic-inch V-8 with Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission and power steering. After making the deal, the duo was faced with transporting the car home to Winnipeg through a storm complete with freezing rain.

Ramsey spent most of the winter months getting the Mustang ready for the safety inspection and doing some upgrades that included new brakes with Wilwood high-performance front discs, new upper and lower control arms, shocks, Pertronix electronic ignition, aluminum radiator, halogen headlamps, LED tail lights and running lights, exhaust headers, full Magnaflow performance exhaust kit and an added leaf on the rear springs.

Other highlights included new 15-inch Vision Torque 143 wheels from the American Muscle Collection with tri-bar spinners, on B.F. Goodrich T/A radial tires. For entertainment there’s a RetroSound AM/FM stereo and satellite radio, with Bluetooth, trunk-mounted subwoofer and 600-watt Clarion amplifier.

The past two summers, Ramsey and his wife, Wendy, have enjoyed many Friday and Sunday cruises in and around Winnipeg, including several excursions for ice cream with daughter Samantha and son Zach. Ramsey considers the Mustang a work in progress, as it’s about to get a new Ford 347 cubic-inch stroker motor built by Competition Engine Machine and a full body prep and repaint.

A member of the Manitoba Mustang and Ford Association, Ramsey currently serves as the club’s secretary/treasurer and welcomes the owners of all classic and special vehicles to the club’s 21st Annual Henry Ford Birthday Car Show.

The show will be held on Aug. 27 at the Rona Home & Garden Centre at 775 Panet Rd., registration opens at 9 a.m. and the show runs to 4 p.m. The registration fee is $10 per vehicle with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Movement Centre of Manitoba.

There will also be class awards, a silent auction and dash plaques for the first 175 cars registered. For more information, contact

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