The Ford Mustang has always been popular among car enthusiasts and collectors. One of the most desirable and rare is the 1969 “Boss” edition, especially with a monster 429 cubic inch engine. Only a little more than a thousand were made, increasing its rarity and value. (If your eyes are starting to glaze over at all this car talk, be patient; the human interest part is coming.) Such a car in very good condition can command $50,000 and up to several hundred thousand. Not bad for a used car.
Back in 1969, one Mustang Boss was purchased new by a teenager in Michigan. He loved the car as only a young man can, and drove it proudly, but there were other demands that had to be met in his life. In 1971, he left the Mustang with his parents for safekeeping and went off to Vietnam.
He never returned.
In their grief, his devastated parents moved the car into the barn, and there it remained for 40 years, a reminder of the son who once drove it. Although under roof, the car deteriorated here and there. A few parts rusted, the paint faded, engine parts gummed up as fluids evaporated, and the upholstery frayed with age, but it was still a Mustang Boss with that huge engine sleeping under the hood.
Occasionally, someone would approach the parents and offer to buy the car, but they refused to sell. One collector and car restorer in particular made repeated attempts to buy the Boss. His plan was to restore the car to its original condition and make a profit selling it to a collector. Each time he was turned down, he made a higher offer to no avail. Finally, he realized the parents were too attached to the car and the memories that it held to sell at any price. Every time they saw the car, they saw their son driving around in it.
Finally, a man from St Michaels, Maryland approached the parents, not knowing the long history of the parents’ refusals to sell. He did his research and made what he considered a generous offer. The father didn’t answer right away, but asked him what he intended to do with the car. The man from St Michaels wanted to restore the car, but he had no plans to resell it. He just wanted a Mustang Boss for himself and his family. They would enjoy it just as the son had.
The father asked a few more questions, then said he would sell the Mustang after all, but not at that price.
He would sell it for less. He had never been interested in money, only in preserving something his son had loved in a way that someone else would love it as well. He just wanted the car to have a good home.
Two years later, the St Michaels man took the fully-restored Mustang Boss back to Michigan for a visit, and took the parents for a ride in their son’s car.