For A Good Cause

Unique Tribute Created

Ford Motor Company - October 18, 2011 09:56 AM

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When Ford Designer Melvin Betancourt created a one-of-a-kind 2012 Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca for auction at an upcoming charity event to benefit cardiovascular care, research and education at Henry Ford Health System, he says it was a labor of love that came straight from the heart.
Betancourt, 49, suffered a serious heart problem 11 years ago, and he credits the doctors at Henry Ford with saving his life.
“I went to the doctor thinking I had a bad cold and the specialists at Henry Ford told me I had what is called an aortic dissection – a tear in the major blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the body,” recalled Betancourt. “As a result, my aorta had grown to the size of a softball, and I needed immediate open-heart surgery.”
The high-risk surgery that Betancourt needed to repair his damaged aorta was performed successfully by cardiovascular surgeons at Henry Ford Hospital.
Betancourt says creating the distinctive Mustang for auction at the “Get Your Heart Racing” event – which was held Oct. 15, at Ford Motor Company – is his way of using the gifts he’s been given to give something back to the doctors and staff at Henry Ford.
“We’re all here for a purpose, and maybe my purpose is to help people through my skills,” said Betancourt. “One of the things I do very well is vehicle customization – taking a car that already exists and enhancing it to make it one of a kind.”
Betancourt says his goal in customizing the 2012 Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca was to create a vehicle that would attract the highest bids from car collectors and ultimately the most money for heart research and education at Henry Ford Health System.
“Everybody knows the School Bus Yellow Boss 302 that Parnelli Jones drove to victory in the 1970 Trans-Am Championship, so we decided to pay homage to that vehicle and do a modern version of the 1970 Mustang that he drove,” said Betancourt.
The 2012 Boss 302 was painted the iconic yellow color at the AutoAlliance International (AAI) plant in Flat Rock, Mich., where all of Ford’s Mustangs are built.
“The fact that the car was built and painted at the AAI plant gives it more credibility as a one-off Ford vehicle,” explained Betancourt.
Instead of using decals like they did in 1970, Betancourt painted all of the black Laguna Seca graphics on the car, which include “hockey-stick” stripes along the sides, Parnelli Jones’ No. 15 on the doors and Jones’ name on the side rails.
“I approached the project from a car collector’s perspective,” said Betancourt. “I asked myself what would happen if they took me from today, put me back in 1970 and asked me to design a car for Parnelli Jones.”
Parnelli Jones signed the car at the “Get Your Heart Racing” event, enhancing its value even more as a collector’s item.