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Hers & His

Classic Mustangs in the Muthig Household

Story Larry Jewett / Images Michele Jewett - August 02, 2012 10:00 AM

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The love for the Mustang runs deep in the Muthig family. Residents of the small town of Dale, Wisconsin, Brad and Christine Muthig have a couple of showstoppers in their garage. When summer rolls around, they are a fixture at local car shows.

It should come as no surprise to learn that there are plenty of trophies to back up the beauty of the cars. It’s a safe bet the Muthigs have the largest trophy collection of any kind in their town of 3,000.

Christine owns a 1969 convertible that wears a coat of Acapulco Blue that was previously applied before the car was purchased by its current owner. We’ll let her tell the story.

“My husband and I went to the grocery store to do our shopping for the week,” she recalled. “Upon entering the store, I had grabbed the grocery cart with the intent of getting the whole business over with. My husband, on the other hand, grabbed the Auto Trader. As we are meandering through the store, attempting to dodge the other shopping carts, my husband reads a tiny ad for a 1969 Mustang convertible. He informed me of this and asked me if I was interested. I needed to get the groceries and make my escape from the store, explaining to him that I would think about it.

“Once we were home, he asked about the ad and what I thought about him calling to inquire about the car. No harm in calling, I guess. We both went to check out the car the following night. It was not the best conditions for making a decision on whether or not to purchase this convertible. It was cold, dark and the lighting was less than desirable, but after seeing this car, I fell in love. We left, but discussed it on the way home and the car was in its forever home two days later.”

In better light, it was obvious the car had some “issues” that would need to be addressed. “The interior had a mismatched color scheme,” said Christine. “It had more back seat parts than it needed and was missing door panels. The car had a 302 two-valve engine, 3.91 posi rear, Magnum 500s and Eagle GT rubber. In the trunk, there were even more parts. We had to start by sorting out all of the parts and do a cleaning of the car.”

The plan was to bring the car to a state of original (or as Christine describes it, “beautiful”) glory. “We had one obstacle to overcome,” she said, “and that was how to fund the restoration of the car. The answer was sitting on shelves in our basement. My husband and I liquidated a 30-year collection of antique Lionel and Ives trains.”

Though both names were on the title, Christine had decided that this car was hers and she was very active in the process to getting it where you see it today. “We replaced the interior with the black deluxe instead of the light blue kiwi standard. This little ’69 now sports a 351 Windsor, a Shelby roll bar, a three-speed automatic with overdrive, new black folding top with folding glass curtain and sequential taillights.

“Over the years, we debated the color. Should we change her color or leave it Acapulco Blue? We always decided to leave it as it is. After all the work, this ’69 has spunk and attitude.”

The 351 features a high performance street cam from COMP and hydraulic lifters. An Edelbrock 600 carburetor sits atop a high-rise dual plane manifold straddling a set of chrome valve covers. Gas escapes through a set of Flowmaster dual exhausts.

Inside, that exhaust sound competes with a Kenwood AM/FM/CD with satellite radio capabilities. Christine enjoys the view from the deluxe bucket seats. On the outside, a lower front spoiler was added for the right appeal. The car has been lowered an inch to a more aggressive stance.

Christine is serious about that “forever home” she mentioned. “Would I give this up? The answer is absolutely not. For all the time my husband has spent going to car shows with me, the many shared bloody knuckles, missing tools and wrong parts sent to us, he decided it was time he got his own Mustang … with my blessing.”

My hat is off to you, Brad Muthig. I like your strategy. If I want something, I’ll make sure my wife gets it first and then she HAS to let me have it.

Brad’s 1970 Mustang was actually the donor car for the 351 that is in Christine’s car, but we don’t want to get too far ahead in this story. We pick it up at the beginning as Christine’s car work is nearing an end in 2005.

“Retired and disabled, I had a lot of time on my hands,” said Brad. “When I heard of a large herd of cars that were soon to be auctioned, I became very excited. The auction was going to be just two miles away and there were over 200 cars. There had to be something there for me.

“On a very cold and rainy day in October of 2005, I bought my dream car, a 1970 Mach 1. My first order of business was to build a rotisserie. I installed a large vintage bumper jack on each end for lift. It worked great. Once the car was attached to the rotisserie, the work began. I could only work a few hours a day, but rarely missed a day in 3½ years.”

The work led to an “a-ha” moment that is one of the joys that comes with a project. “While stripping the interior, I found a bundle of papers in the rear wheel well area,” he remembered. “It was six build sheets to cars that were built the same day, just ahead of mine at the Dearborn Assembly Plant. They were all attached to one another just as they came off the printer. As luck would have it, none were for my Mach 1.”

With some detective work, it was found that only two of those cars are still in existence. It was time to get back to work on Brad’s car. The 351 engine was extracted (and we know where that went). In its place, Brad turned to YearOne to get 400-plus horsepower 351 ready to drop in. A TREMEC five-speed was added to push back to a rebuilt nine-inch Ford Traction Lock rear.

With the drivetrain work done, the car was shipped off to Joe’s Collision and Restoration in Appleton, Wisconsin, for work on the exterior. At that time, Kona Blue was a new Ford color and it became the choice for this car, adding the modern paint to a vintage ride.

The interior is all original with the deluxe custom weave upholstery and rim-blow steering wheel to drive home the point. The fold-down rear seat, Hurst shifter and original AM/FM make you think it’s 1970 again.

The car now sports subframe connectors, an aluminum driveshaft, Shelby traction bars and sway bars front and rear. Like Christine’s, this car has been lowered an inch from the stock specs.

Don’t bother looking for either of these cars when the snow is flying. These rides are summer only cruisers, keeping the mileage down and the trophy count up.

As nice as trophies and plaques may be, anyone who is in it for those rewards is slightly missing the point. “What I value most is restoring and showing these two cars with my wife,” added Brad. “ I look forward to seeing these times with her and our new friends, the ones that we’ve made at car shows.”

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