Car show highlights Mustang's anniversary

Eight Mustangs will be among 40 automobiles on display this weekend

Posted: Thursday, May 06, 2004

Alaska is a place where restorers of custom cars work on them in the winter and play with them in the summer, says Jon Gates.

His "1964 and a half" Ford Mustang will be on display at the fourth annual Custom Classic & Antique Auto and Cycle Show Friday and Saturday at Centennial Hall. The show features eight Mustangs among the 40 cars and half-dozen motorcycles on display.

The show runs 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. But Stan Ridgeway, a member of the organizing Juneau Dipsticks, said attendees will be let in as early as 4 p.m. Friday.

The cost is $5, and proceeds go to vocational programs at Juneau-Douglas High School. Each of the first three years of the show has attracted between 1,000 and 1,500 viewers. Collectively the shows have generated $22,000 for programs, scholarships and activities at JDHS, the club said.

"The theme of this year's show is it's the 40th anniversary of the Mustang," Ridgeway said. "We're featuring Mustangs. We have eight Mustangs, one representing each style and two special edition 2004s."

Marty McKeown, sales manager at Evergreen Motors, will show a 2004 Mustang Mach I anniversary issue, with orange paint and black racing stripes. It's a souped-up GT model with 305 horsepower, rather than the usual 280 horsepower.

The Mustang represents "quite a legacy" for Ford, McKeown said. The model has been popular over the years for its sporty look.

"It was the hottest car that came out in '64," McKeown said. "What keeps making it be exciting to people is a lot of kids that grew up, their dads had one - and it has a retro look still. They've held the line, the look, in one shape or form all along."

Gates, a Mustang owner, said his car is the first model, built in May 1964. The Mustang was introduced in April and was changed a bit in September of 1964. Strictly speaking, they are 1965 models, but the ones built in the spring are referred to as 1964 and a half.

"The Mustang is kind of an icon of its day," Gates said. "It's one of the few cars that seems to be popular year after year for no other reason than there are nuts like me who like Mustangs."

Gates found his Mustang in a consignment lot in Anchorage 20 years ago and spent 10 years making it safe to drive, he said. He bought new parts that were replicas of the original parts.

Why preserve the Mustang? One reason is the satisfaction of rebuilding a car and making it road-worthy again, Gates said.

"Part of it is nostalgia," he said. "Part of it is remembering when you were in high school, and cars like that were unavailable to you when you were in high school because you couldn't afford it.

"It's almost like a piece of rolling art. When you're working on it, you have a sense it's a piece of automotive history."

• Eric Fry can be reached at

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