Revved up to solve motor mystery
MUSTANG enthusiast Darren Brown could never have predicted the twists and turns his journey would take when he set off to find the original owner of the 1965 Mustang GT Fastback he had just spent seven years restoring.
It would be a trip that took him from his vineyard in Richmond to the heart of the mainland at Alice Springs, nearly 3000km away.
"This car had been 31 years off the road when I bought it off my stepfather and decided to restore it," said Mr Brown.
"Basically from 1979 to 2010 it had been in storage. I'm the fourth owner - or the current custodian as I call it - it's the first and only car I've ever touched, but thanks to Google and YouTube I've learnt to pull a car apart and I'm pretty happy with the result."
The rare, original-condition mustang came to Australia in the 1970s through a US army officer based at Pine Gap, a military airforce base southwest of Alice Springs, who sold it after refusing to convert it from its original left-hand drive to better suit Australian roads.
"He was a stubborn old fella, wouldn't do it so put it in the shed instead," said Mr Brown. "Not long after that my stepfather bought it. He was about to purchase a brand new Holden commodore - the first of the Commodores - but sitting in a car yard alongside it was a 15-year-old Mustang, so he walked out with the Mustang."
Mr Brown's curiosity over the car's American owner has since taken him to Alice Springs to meet the officer who imported it.
"He remembers the day when he was sitting at a friend's house by the train tracks leading to Alice and watched as the Ghan pulled up with his car on the back," he said.
"He sold it to pay for his honeymoon but he never got over it. He's told me he wants it back."
Since the recent full restoration, where the car was stripped bare then pieced back together, the discovery was made that it's not the only GT of its kind in the state.
"For a tiny little town called Hobart it's incredible that there's another one here," said Mr Brown.
"This is really, really bizarre. It's estimated there were only 1500 GT Fastbacks ever built, but Ford destroyed all the records so no one knows for sure. But out of 1500 there are two in Hobart."
With his family heirloom back on the road, Mr Brown hopes to take his car full circle back to its place of origin.
"My dream is to take it back to America and drive across the US with it, to do Route 66 with it."
Originally published as Revved up to solve motor mystery