Mustang Goes From Sitting To Stunning Thanks To Owner’s Skill

MORRIS, CT – Robin Vogel’s connection to her dark red 1966 Ford Mustang convertible goes back to childhood. 

“When I was a little kid, my father bought it as a parts car. It didn’t have any floors. I mean it was basically ready for the junk yard,” the Morris, CT resident recalled.

“That was how we got it and I used to sit in it and play car and tell him, ‘I’m going to have this car someday. Please don’t part it out, Dad. You can’t do that’ as I’m sitting in the car pretending to drive it.”

Robin Vogel behind the wheel of her 1966 Ford Mustang

Her father was a Mustang enthusiast who owned three of the pony cars – a 1964½ model, the 1966 convertible and a 1965 Mustang GT, which began as the family car. The 1966 eventually got stashed in a barn but it was constantly on Vogel’s mind, especially when she entered Housatonic Valley Regional High School.

“I took metal shop and I took auto body so I would learn how to work on this car,” said Vogel, noting that girls taking shop classes wasn’t common back then.

Boys Questioned A Girl In Shop Class

“Of course, I got ripped on by the boys really bad: ‘Girls can’t do that. Girls don’t know how to work on cars.’ And then I got the highest grade in the class and the boys were pretty mad about that and my teacher said, ‘Well, maybe if you opened a textbook, you might have gotten a good grade. She had no choice but to open the textbooks because she didn’t know how to do it.’”

Robin Vogel’s 1966 Ford Mustang

It was during this time that her dad began hinting that he might actually give her the Mustang. “I did pretty well. I learned how to do welding, learned how to rebuild the motor.  Then I took a job at a body shop one summer. I was the tape girl. I would tape off all the windshields and everything,” she said.

Mustang Was A Gift From Her Father

Vogel ended up graduating early from high school. As a reward her father handed her the keys to the Mustang. “He kept it in a barn all those years and he basically said, ‘Scrap it or build it’ and at that age I said, ‘I’m going to build it.’ But, of course, at that age I didn’t have the money, resources to do it.”

Consequently, the Mustang stayed parked out of the elements. “By the time I got it out of the barn, the motor was practically seized, the rear end was seized.  We dragged the car down the road several times until the rear end opened up, and it did. Kinda made a thunk and was unseized,” Vogel said.

She eventually got the motor to turn over. “I gotta say I was like one of those women on ‘The Price Is Right.’ I was so excited, I really couldn’t contain my excitement. To hear that motor start back up was just amazing,” she said.

The engine in the 1966 Ford Mustang

The 289-cubic-inch V8 motor really needed a rebuild, and Vogel tackled it. “Sat there for two weeks over a bucket of gasoline washing with a tooth brush each part,” she said, explaining that the job required the guidance of friends and information from Haynes and Chilton repair manuals.

Restoration Wasn’t Easy

The Mustang’s frame needed to be cleaned up and a new floor pans were necessary. “I think the hardest part on that was the sandblasting, getting under the car. No matter how much stuff you put on (to protect) your face, you’re picking hat stuff out of your skin for a couple weeks I would say. It was rough but I did it anyway. I didn’t want a speck of rust on that car,” said Vogel.

The interior of the 1966 Ford Mustang

With work and family intruding, it took 10 years for Vogel to complete the restoration to the point where the Mustang could hit the road with its one-off maroon paint scheme. That finally happened in 1995. Even then, there were bugs that needed to be worked out. 

Several years ago, Vogel was in a horrific car accident with an 18-wheeler. As a result, the Mustang sat for a year; to the point where the engine needed attention again. Instead of getting it running, she dropped in a 302-cubic-in Ford V8 to go with the three-speed manual transmission. 

The car’s recent history has seen the addition of Cragar mag wheels and a new top. “My father had the same exact Cragar wheels on his car, so I upgraded to these,” she said. The Mustang continues to be a work in progress despite the passage of 26 years since being restored. It currently needs to have a new convertible top installed.  

Vogel doesn’t hesitate to use the Mustang. “I drive it around quite a bit. I don’t drive it to the store because of the parking lot,” she said. “I enjoy just driving it around. I feel really good about it because I’ve touched every inch of this car.”

See the 1966 Ford Mustang in action in this YouTube video…

About Bud Wilkinson

Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" classic car feature in the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. A graduate of Vermont Academy prep school, he holds a B.A. degree journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the recipient of a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award in 1992 and a 1991-92 regional Emmy Award for commentary. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville and drives a 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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