Joe Kohls had wanted to get an old Ford Mustang since he was in high school, but he knew he needed to wait until he was financially secure enough, and mature enough, to handle it.
“I waited till I wasn’t a kid anymore,” he says. “I didn’t want to wreck it.”
Though Kohls had poked around the Internet for the car out of curiosity before, he began browsing for a classic Mustang in earnest in April of 2012. He’d been searching for less than a week when he found a 1969 Mustang coupe available for sale on Craigslist. Its owner, a member of the military who had just moved to Fort Dodge from Texas, was selling it to get money for his impending wedding. Kohls bought the car and set to work restoring it.
He replaced the dashboard, which was cracked and baked from the Texas sun, and completely rebuilt the motor. He also added a new radiator and a high-performance carburetor, camshaft and intake. Most noticeably, he repainted under the hood to give its engine a sleek, modern look.
However, the restoration process wasn’t easy. Kohls didn’t know much about fixing up cars when he bought the Mustang, so he purchased a series of how-to manuals to guide him. He also took pictures of every step of the process so that he could refer back to his work later in case he made a mistake. (A three-inch stack of these pictures sits on a countertop in his garage.) His neighbors and a few of his friends at Harvey’s Automotive and Machine also chipped in with help and guidance on the project. All told, Kohls estimates he spent about two hours a day for the past five months fixing up his beloved classic car.
“It was definitely a trial and error process,” he says. “There were no tears, but there was a lot of blood and sweat.”
Kohls plans on entering his car into a show in Clear Lake, and he also wants to take it to the Goodguys show in Des Moines. Most of all, however, he wants to get it on the open road and enjoy the American muscle he’s dreamt of owning since high school.
“There’s just something about old cars,” he says. “It’s smelling the gas, looking at the dashboard and not seeing any computers. And burning rubber, too.”
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”