FAIRFIELD — Twenty years ago, Dan McCabe met his first Mustang. He didn’t know much about the car, a 1964½ model, the first generation of the car and the impetus for the “pony car,” a class of American autos that feature sports car-like coupes with long hoods and short rear decks.
That was just the beginning. McCabe and his wife Norma McCabe have owned eight Mustangs. At one point, they had five of the cars.
Today it’s three – the much coveted 1964½ model, which will be given to a granddaughter, a 1969 Fastback and a 2009 model.
Bob Loya found his 1968 California Special Mustang in the vein of “American Pickers.” He was traveling in Redding area and caught sight of it in a barn.
It was bad shape, but Loya wanted it.
“There was rust on the roof, it was bubbling up,” he said. It was painted orange.
Today, it’s back to its original Acapulco blue. Loya’s research led him to discover there were only 4,118 California Special Mustangs manufactured. Of those, 234 were Acapulco blue and only six had the black vinyl roof. Loya’s has the black vinyl roof.
He purchased it from the original owner who, before he left the car lot, switched out the wire wheels for hubcaps. It was the only California Special Mustang made with the wire wheels.
McCabe and Loya are members of the local Golden Hills Mustang Club. About 20 fellow members accompanied them to the model’s 50th birthday celebration in Las Vegas.
The McCabes traveled in their 2006 Mustang. Loya put his in an enclosed trailer for the trek. He had six people offer to buy it on the spot, he said.
They were fair prices, but Loya has no intention of letting it go.
“It’s going to stay with me,” he said. “I could never sell it for what I put into it.”
More than 170 Mustang clubs were represented, said Dan McCabe. They came from New Zealand, Finland, Germany and Austria, to name a few, he said.
The festivities included laps on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and plenty of time to see and talk Mustangs.
Dan McCabe finds it hard to pinpoint just one thing that makes him love the Mustang. One of the reasons is that it’s been in production most of his life. Another is that most of the car is made in America.
There’s also the friendships he’s formed through the Golden Hills Mustang Club and attending Mustang-related events where he meets people from around the globe.
“It’s much more fun car than your average four-door sedan,” Norma McCabe said.
Loya was a longtime Chevrolet Camaro fan and decided he wanted something different. He owns three Mustangs.
Both have added some modern touches, such as Bluetooth, to their older Mustangs. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the dashboards. They are concealed to look like original parts.
Loya isn’t sure today’s Mustangs will carry the same legendary status 50 years down the road. It’s still the top-of-the-line muscle car, he said.
He’s caught a glimpse of the new Mustang, but isn’t sold on it. He’s looking for another 1968 Mustang, the Fastback GT edition.
“I really like the ’68s,” he said. “It was the second year of the car of that generation. They were still working out the kinks with the 1967. In 1968, they perfected it.”
McCabe and Loya bring their Mustangs out for special events, such as parades and the upcoming Golden Hills Mustang Club car show May 17 at the Suisun City waterfront.
Both cars are in pristine condition. But the work is never done, Loya said.
“You’re always working on the restoration,” he said, adding that his is about 98 percent complete.
“You have to get it in shape,” McCabe said. “After that, keeping it in shape isn’t that hard.”
When the McCabes pulled their 1969 Mustang on to the concrete at the Suisun waterfront, a group of four men passed by. One came to look at the car.
Tom Wilburn was in the area on business from Louisville, Ky. He left his 2012 Super Sport Mustang at the airport.
He’s owned about dozen, the first one a 1965 model he purchased in 1973.
The 30th annual Biggest Little Car Show, hosted by the Golden Hills Mustang Club, will celebrate a half-century of the Ford Mustang. More details can be found at www.goldenhillsmustangclub.com.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.