1966 FORD Mustang- John- Vancouver, BC Print
Written by Double Dragon
Thursday, 08 January 2015 21:19

1966 FORD Mustang- John- Vancouver, BC


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

66 ford mustang john one owner vancouver logo

1966 was the final model year for the original compact version of the wildly popular Mustang. In 1967 the Mustang was widened and lengthened sufficiently to accommodate a 390 cubic inch optional engine. By the mid 1960s, even in Hi-Po 'K code' form the 289 was no longer considered big enough to keep the Mustang competitive with the coming wave of ponycars which had morphed into musclecars and packed some mean engines.

66 ford mustang john one owner vancouver front

The average Mustang buyer actually wasn't too concerned with ultimate performance. The Mustang was a great looking car with a sporty flavor but not necessarily a tire burning monster as it was normally ordered. The majority of the first Mustangs out the gate were actually ordered with the moderate 260 V8 and later the 289 V8 engine. The 'K' code high performance 289 wasn't commonly encountered.  In fact a larger number of Mustangs were ordered with 6 cylinder engines than with the 'K' code engine.

Some purists argue that the 1964-66 Mustang was the only true example of the Mustang concept. Subsequent weight and size increases diluted the original formula. They believe that adding big block muscle was contrary to the spirit of the car as a nimble inexpensive sporty flavored economy car.

66 mustang john vancouver ft drv

Back in January, 1966 John was a young man in an apprenticeship job ready to buy his first new car. John walked onto the snowy lot at Dominion Ford at 901 Seymour Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C. knowing that they carried a huge inventory. See a story about Dominion Ford in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website filed under BRITISH COLUMBIA/ VANCOUVER Defunct Dealers.

John wanted a Mustang with the 289 and 4 speed but the 4 speed cars were loaded down with other options that pushed the price out of his reach. John found a Mustang equipped with a 289 2 barrel single exhaust teamed with a 3 speed manual floor shifter. The 3 speed cars usually came as 'strippers' with a light option load that kept them affordable. The Wimbledon White Mustang John zeroed in on didn't have power brakes or power steering or other cost adding extras.

66 ford mustang john one owner vancouver int

The Mustang was within his price range. John also did well by buying right off the lot from the available inventory. His Mustang had been around since fall and this undoubtedly assisted him in his negotiations. The sales contract below is just as it appeared in Jan 15, 1966 with the following alterations: John's last name and address plus the final VIN sequence of the car have been removed to protect owner privacy.

66 Mustang john van Dominion Ford sales contract

John's Mustang had the optional 289 engine, an optional AM radio, optional whitewall tires and the optional 2 speed windshield wipers and that was it. Included in the price of the 289 engine was an upgraded 3 speed manual transmission. This 'free' upgrade transmission was stronger and easier to shift than the 3 speed manual used for 6 cylinder Mustangs.

66 mustang john vancouver AM radio

With a Mustang you didn't need to load it up with options to get a nice looking car. Although it lacks a tachometer, the base model provides sporty round gauges that cover most pertinent information. The 140 MPH speedometer is flanked by fuel and oil gauges on the left and amps and temperature gauges to the right.

66 mustang john vancouver gauges

For $3,277.00 John had a very good looking car with bucket seats, floor shift, and 3 spoke sporty steering wheel. It was stylish looking inside and displayed the sleek Mustang classic proportions outside.

66 mustang john vancouver 3 speed floor shifter

The floor shifted 3 speed manual transmission that accompanied the 289 was beefier than the transmission used in 6 cylinder Mustangs. It also included synchromesh on first gear which the weaker 6 cylinder 3 speed manual lacked. Although the 3 speed used in John's car is considered equal in strength to the 4 speed it was disdained by drag racers because of the wider spacing of gears which allowed revs to drop too far between shifts. There was also concern that the first 1-2 shift was theoretically quicker in a 4 speed which allowed you to pull straight down while the 3 speed required you to push up and over. Of course that up and over shift pattern came up awfully quick in a race where that pattern was used for the 2-3 shift in 4 speeds.

The case for a 4 speed versus 3 speed was only really relevant for the guy trying to squeeze out the last iota of performance from his car. The popularity of the 4 speed eventually became more of an image issue than anything else. Ironically when musclecar insurance rates became crazy in the early 1970s one of the most popular 'under the radar' insurable musclecars was the Plymouth Duster 340 with a 3 speed manual floor shift. The 3 speed transmission served John well without any issues despite the fact that he was a young guy driving his car hard.

The 1966 Mustang base package not only provided buckets and gauges inside; the external details were taken care of, too. The great looks of the car were accentuated with full size wheel covers. In the 1960s most base model cars came with 'dog dish' small diameter hubcaps popularly referred to as 'poverty caps'. The little extras that came standard on every Mustang elevated the car to special status in image while maintaining an economical price tag.

66 mustang john vancouver driver front tire

John's Mustang was originally equipped with bias ply whitewall tires. John managed to locate a set of P195/ 75R14 tires with whitewalls that duplicate the tall sidewall of the original format whitewall tires while providing the superior handling of a radial tire.

66 mustang john vancouver data plate

The data plate on John's Mustang is reproduced above with the final 6 digits of the VIN removed from the image to protect his privacy. The numbers decode as follows:

6= 1966 Model year

R= San Jose, California final assembly plant

07= 2 Door Hardtop body series

C= 289 2 barrel V8 engine

(The next 6 numbers are the individual unit number which are not shown here)

Body 65A= 2 Door Hardtop with standard interior

Color M= Wimbledon White

Trim 25= Standard interior done in Red Crinkle Vinyl and Red Rosette Vinyl

Date 22L= November 22, 1965

D.S.O B7= Pacific Canada district sales office

Axle 6= 2.80:1 ratio conventional axle (aka 'open' and not limited slip)

Trans 1= 3 Speed manual

66 ford mustang john one owner vancouver side

John was a young guy and remembers hammering on the Mustang a little harder than he would now. As he comments, the base 289 was capable of hauling full size Galaxies, which made it quite powerful when coupled with the light Mustang body and minimal options.

The Mustang took him on a long daily commute to work in a mine he worked at for 2.5 years during the early 1970s. The mine was 28 miles east of Ashcroft, BC where the car was subjected to gravel on the final portion of the drive.

Aside from moderate initial cost, another advantage of the manual shift 289 engine was impressive gas mileage. Without the slip of a torque converter John's Mustang pumps out 18 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway at a steady 65 MPH.

66 mustang john van pass side

A 289 coupled with the light Mustang body devoid of heavy options also made the Mustang powerful enough to easily maintain highway speeds while towing a 14 1/2 foot boat with a 85 HP outboard. The little Mustang made the towing trip from Vancouver, BC to Penticton, BC and back through mountainous terrain without problems. The temperature gauge climbed alarmingly when pulling the boat uphill but the car never overheated. The scary concern was the non power assisted 4 wheel drum brakes. Coming down mountains with a trailer can be hairy on small drum brakes. Eventually towing the boat had some consequences: the clutch had to be replaced a couple of times.

For 24 years John used the car as his daily driver which included his long work commute and vacation trips. Today the car shows 225,477 miles but almost all of that mileage was accumulated prior to 1980.

66 Mustang john van speedometer

Over the years the usual items gave up the ghost. The heater core went out in 1978 and the radiator gave up around the same time. John found a replacement radiator with provisions for automatic transmission lines but otherwise its the same dimensions and format as his old factory original. The most frequent replacement item John dealt with was the original configuration transverse rear muffler. On rough roads leading up to the mine he lost his rear muffler so often he changed to a dual exhaust system with individual mufflers.

66 mustang john vancouver alternator

The water pump and master cylinder were replaced but incredibly the alternator has never been changed. The alternator shown above is the factory original item that still works fine. The windshield washer bag on the driver's fender is original and hasn't sprung any leaks.

66 mustang john vancouver windshield washer bag

The shiny silver sticker applied to the driver's inner fender contains instructions on maintenance. It is wrinkled and a bit messed up. Reproductions are available but John wisely left his alone since this is the actual way it came from the factory where it was applied in a slapdash manner.

66 mustang john vancouver maintenance sticker

A factory worker applied the sticker in a rush. Mustangs were hugely popular and factories pumped them out in a frenzy that couldn't supply the seemingly insatiable demand from customers. Considering this is the only quality control issue on the car John lucked out.

John's Mustang had passed 200,000 miles by 1980 and the 289 engine was getting tired. John had the engine rebuilt with a 0.30 overbore. The stock carburetor was retained but the car had already been switched to dual exhaust due to the regularity with which the original transverse rear muffler broke off.

66 mustang john vancouver 289 engine

John found a nice item: a battery cover that fits over a conventional battery to provide the appearance of a vintage 1960s Autolite battery as seen in the photo. Note the FoMoCo correct type reproduction upper radiator hose in the image below.

66 mustang john vancouver 289 engine

The mileage also took its toll on the seats. The foam in the driver's seat eventually collapsed and split. The front seat covers were replaced. The driver's door panel has stood the test of time well, showing just a bit of discoloration at the top of the panel.

66 mustang john van driver door panel

The pedals look pretty decent with just a bit of wear to the outside edge of the clutch pedal which is typical. These are the original pedals.

66 mustang john van pedals

Driving year round in wet British Columbia weather soon rotted out the Mustang. The 1960s Mustangs were prone to rust out even in mild climates. The main damage to the car wasn't weather related, however. Someone hit the front driver corner of the car and the front fender had to be replaced. Another time someone took out the rear quarter panel in a parking lot but thankfully was caught by the police before he got far. The inner cowls in the engine compartment became perforated particularly around the battery area likely due to off gassing of battery acid.

John first replaced the fenders in 1980 but they soon rusted out again because the used quarter panels were probably harboring rust to begin with. The car has been painted 3 times now.

66 mustang john van British Columbia inspection sticker

John's Mustang was subject to the British Columbia inspection. This sticker is from 1983. Cars that passed a province wide mechanical safety inspection received a sticker in the bottom passenger side of the windshield. Many cars have had windshield replacement over the last 30 years and these stickers don't appear as often as you might expect. Some of the other British Columbia cars on this site such as the ONE OWNER 1971 Dodge Polara or the TWENTY YEARS PLUS 1970 Plymouth Barracuda still have these stickers.

66 mustang john van rear drv side

The last time John had his Mustang repainted the car was redone right and it has stayed in essentially the same condition since then. Walter from Boyd Auto replaced the fenders and painted the car. Walter had a tough time with the reproduction rear quarters which didn't fit. He had to fabricate and work hard to get the door jamb area to line up properly.

John's Mustang doesn't rack up a lot of mileage anymore. John takes it out to car shows and still enjoys driving it after all these years.

66 ford mustang john one owner vancouver rear


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 March 2021 21:40 )