A very touching story of how a man lives on in his car !
Mustang Dream Lives On
By Terry Kohl
Rex Ferguson had always admired the early model Mustang’s for their style, simplicity under the hood and, with the right engine, their horsepower. It was no surprise to his family that in the summer of 1994 he began looking for a rust free ‘Pony’ to restore.
Several months later a friend of his found a 1968 Mustang hardtop, virtually rust free. Rex shelled out $900 to be the proud owner of a soon to be restored ‘Stang. A friend tore the 302 engine and C-4 transmission apart and completely rebuilt them, including a couple of horsepower enhanced modifications. After the drive train work was completed, the little pony packed a neck-jerking 367 horsepower.
Life has a way, at times, of changing one’s plans. Over the next 4 years money became tight for Rex. Family matters took precedence. The car had been torn apart but not put back together, although the front suspension and brakes had been replaced. Unexpectedly, in June of 1998, Rex passed away of a massive heart attack. The car was returned to the family in pieces and stored in a barn for the next year.
After her father’s death and due to her mother’s failing health, the Ferguson’s daughter, Donna Kisner, and her husband, David drove from Mississippi to North Carolina to help her mother move. Going through a lifetime of belongings is never an easy task and, while the Mustang held bittersweet memories the decision was made to piece out the old pony for parts. Fate intervened. Donna, who had shared her dad’s dream, not only convinced her mother to sell her the car for $1, but she also connived and cajoled enough to persuade her husband to haul the car from North Carolina to their home in Mississippi and get estimates to complete the work. David now had two dreams on his hands, his father-in-law’s and his wife’s.
Knowing next to nothing about cars, besides changing the oil and checking the tire pressure, David was certain of one thing - they could not afford to have it professionally brought back to its original condition.
After a lot of soul searching, he decided to try and finish the project himself. He purchased every restoration book he could find, all the factory assembly manuals, the original shop manual, and hounded every friend he had with mechanical and body work experience. Over the next 3 years and 4 months, he completely restored every nut, bolt and body panel. A friend who had paint experience agreed to paint the car in his garage for $1,100, probably half of what he would have paid elsewhere. David helped him build a paint booth in his garage complete with fans, exhaust, and ventilation. In August, the body parts were painted the original Candy Apple red.
Back in the garage, Donna and several friends helped David hang, align, and install the hood, trunk lid and doors. Each and every interior and exterior part of the car was restored or replaced. The final piece was installed on Christmas Eve 2002, which was a fitting gift to Rex’s spirit. With only a few modifications, this 1968 classic is correct in every detail. The car is primarily a show car, but occasionally sees a Sunday afternoon drive down Main Street. Although the car has won numerous show awards, the greatest joy David and Donna had was fulfilling Rex’s dream.
As to insuring their Mustang, the Kisners wanted an insurance policy that would guarantee the full value of the vehicle in the event of a total loss. After all, this was a once in a lifetime dream. Their insurance company that insures their daily drivers put them in touch with American Collectors Insurance (ACI) www.americancollectors.com . American Collectors is a national specialty provider of collector vehicle insurance and provided ‘Agreed Value’ coverage for the pony for an annual premium of just $143. As an aside, you do not need to go through your insurance company to qualify for ACI’s collector program. For more info, call ACI direct at 800-360-2277.
Often, as with stories, the end creates a new beginning. It was always Rex’s passion to restore a Mustang. That dream did not materialize for him but his daughter’s persistence and a labor of love from his son-in-law brought it to fruition.
Someday, the car will pass to a third generation, David and Donna’s daughter, Holly!