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Ford Mustang show pony

“When I saw the first one come into the workshop I sat in it all day. My boss had to come get me out to do some work,” he says. Monk had fallen for the American muscle cars, in particular the Ford Mustangs.

While he was used to heavy and underpowered British cars such as the Hillman his father drove, Monk says the new American thoroughbred was a welcome breath of fresh air.

More than 40 years on and Monk's garage features not just one but three shiny Mustangs.

His pride and joy is the 1967 Fastback he paid $30,000 for six years ago.

“I had a 1965 but I always wanted a Fastback.

I preferred the shape and when this one came up I bought it,” the 59-year-old says.

Monk has since sold his 1965 model, but his wife, who shares his Mustang passion, has a 1967 convertible and he's also got a more modern version with a 1994 convertible.

Monk says the 1967 Fastback was in good condition when he bought it, but he has carried out some work on the engine and the trim, and lowered it. “It was a little bit too high, they used to call it the four-wheel-drive Mustang because it was so high off the ground,” he says.

The Mustangs weren't officially released in Australia in the 1960s and '70s, but some enthusiasts did import them into the country. Monk says Ford imported some models for sale.

But in America, they instantly became a hit.

“There were countdowns to when the Mustang was released,” Monk says. “When they were released people queued up to buy them, they slept in dealerships. That was in America.”

Ford didn't build any right-hand-drive versions of the Mustangs, so the ones that came into Australia had to be converted.

“Up until 1998, you couldn't drive a left-hand-drive car in Australia, so you had the added cost of conversion,” Monk says. “You could in South Australia and Canberra but not NSW.”

This made them quite expensive for the average Australian, making it much cheaper to opt for a locally manufactured car.

The cars originally sold in the US for about $US2500, but according to Monk, they were more expensive here because of the conversion costs.

Monk says when these cars were first released, they were ahead of their time, offering a five-page list of options such as cruise control. “It's automatic. The rear seat folds up and down giving access to the boot. It's a lovely car, it's just unusual and it's candy apple red in colour, it's a known fact that red Mustangs go faster,” he says.

Monk says there are now a lot of them in Australia as many people have imported them over the years. The Mustang Owners Club of NSW alone has 600 members with about 800 cars.

Monk's 1967 Fastback spent most of its life in the US, coming to settle Down Under at the beginning of this century. “It was born on August 1, 1967, that's the day it was manufactured, all this has been verified by Ford and the compliance plate on the car,” he says.

“It came into Australia in 2000 when a father and son brought it in and did it up. They sold it to the guy I bought it off, who had it for a while. But he needed some money so he sold it to me and it will be a dark day before I sell it.”

The classic Mustangs are now selling for about $50,000 for an average model. But many Mustang fans are happy just to get a look.

Last year, Monk and 24 fellow Mustang owners took their vehicles more than 3000km on a club trip to Tasmania.

One local found out about the team of Mustangs hitting town, so frantically rang all the motels in the area to find out where they were staying, in a hope of getting some happy snaps.

But this sort of attention isn't new to Monk.

“When you stop at traffic lights people offer to swap Commodores for the Mustang,” he laughs.

“We meet a lot of people. At a car show this bloke came up to me and said he was the bloke who brought it into Australia, he used to own it.”

Many people in particular have come to recognise the Mustang muscle car from its role in the hit film Gone In 60 Seconds, which introduced a new generation to the classic.

Monk says his model is the same shape and same kind of Mustang as Eleanor, the one Nicolas Cage drove, but is just a different variant.

While Monk is satisfied with his current Mustang collection, like most car enthusiasts he would like to see it grow in size. “There are always plans for more Mustangs, it's only the bank account that prohibits any more,” he says.

“I'd like to get a current model, but I'd have to sell the house and live in a caravan to do that.”

Although he likes the new modernised version, Monk says his true passion lies with the classic Mustang models. But in his books, you can have any Mustang to be considered a real car owner.

“There's only one car, a Mustang, all Fords come second ... then there's the rest,” he says laughing. “If you don't own a Mustang we say you've gone to the dark side.”




Value when new: $US2500, about $5000 in Australia after conversion

Value six years ago: $30,000

Value now: Between $50,000 and $75,000

Verdict: It's not hard to fall in love with the classic shape and looks of this American muscle car, well-known for its role in the action film Gone In 60 Seconds.


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