The magnificent men in their Mustang machines

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Mustangs and their owners, from left, Ian Jackson, John Perryman, Andrew Charlton and Warwick Elliott. Photo: Rod Henshaw

IT takes only a few minutes sitting with a group of proud Ford Mustang classic car owners to realise they’re not just enthusiasts; they’re firmly committed to – and I suspect, obsessed by – their treasured boys’ toys.

The Canberra clan of the Mustang Owners Club of Australia (NSW) can’t wait to parade their gleaming classics at Erindale this weekend. And their unabashed glee is somewhat infectious. I can’t even get a rise out of club member Warwick Elliott when he drives up in his impeccably groomed 1965 Mustang convertible, red of course.

Why would you drive a 50-year-old car? Can’t you afford a new one? I jokingly ask. Warwick doesn’t laugh. Just a benignly tolerant grin.

Ironically, the money it cost Warwick Elliott and his club mates to rebuild their cars “from the ground up” would represent a very sizeable contribution towards the cost of the soon-to-be-released 2019 Mustang.

“I’ve got a huge jar crammed full of receipts which I’m too scared to add up,” says Warwick. And a guesstimate?

“About $80,000.”

It’s all about touchstones, apparently.

Warwick Elliott in his 1965
Mustang with happy joyrider Barbara O’Brien. Photo: Rod Henshaw

“Mine is a 1965 car. That’s a touchstone to 1965 for me,” he explained. Other club members agree. Their cars might evoke memories from those years and retain a link with that era of their lives.

For John Perryman, Mustang madness was a comparatively latent interest. Wisely, he consulted his wife before any serious commitment.

“She said: ‘Fine, as long as you don’t try to be 25 again. Get a car befitting your age’.

The result is a very handsome 1966 Mustang coupe, which has become part of the family.

“She (his wife) comes along to the meetings and she’s enthusiastic and loves the cars as I do,” John says.

I learn that Mustang owners fall into several different categories. At the high end is the Concourse group. They are obviously well heeled and delight in spending “millions of dollars” making their cars better than when they came out of the factory.

“Then there’s our group. A sort of middle group who do the cars up to make them good and fun – and safe to drive as well as good to look at,” says Warwick.

Then there’s another group. They never drive their cars.

In fact many don’t even put oil in the engines because they never get started up. If they go anywhere, it’s on the back of a truck and pushed manually into place when they get there.

For the Canberra Mustang owners, an occasional outing is obligatory and you simply can’t ignore their grace and beauty.

“Everybody you go past when you’re driving an old classic car says ‘hey, cool car’,” says Warwick.

“It makes them remember something, too.”

The Canberra Mustang members are currently lobbying the ACT government to introduce registration fees similar to those in NSW, where classic-car owners can drive the cars up to 60 days a year for a concessional rego fee.

“If that was introduced here, you’d create a lot more interest in the community and you’d have a lot more of these cars out and about,” says John Perryman.


The biennial Canberra Mustang Car Show, Viking Park, Erindale, Sunday, February 17, 9am-2.30pm, with proceeds to Menslink.


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