Valhalla for Mustangs


front and rear view of 66 mustang converted to pickup truck

There’s not another like it. A ’66 Mustang, restored to pristine condition, painted John Deere green, converted to a pickup, and adorned with John Deere yellow stripes and a John Deere decal. This magnificent combination of two iconic American symbols is the creation of James Matthews of Rosebud, Arkansas. He also has a few hundred other Mustangs, not in quite as good condition as this one.

The Ford Mustang was let out of the corral by Lee Iaccoca and his crew of Ford firebrands in April of 1964. Some called the new car a 64-and-half. Ford called it a ’65. Ford historians tell us with some authority that the Mustang was the automaker’s most successful launch since the 1928 Model A, introduced some 36 years earlier in October of 1927.

restored 66 ford mustang

Click on the car for more pictures and info on the Mustang

The Mustang gathered a near-cult following which is alive and well today. With that sort of popularity, there are opportunities for enterprises other than the manufacturer to make a good living. James Matthews of Rosebud, Arkansas is one of those individuals.

He recognized the Mustang potential in the early seventies when he started to accumulate wrecked Mustangs. Before we go much further, we recommend that you go to the Photo of the Week Page of Corndancer dot-com and get in on the beginning of this story. You’ll see more pictures of the truck and a well organized collection of Mustang carcasses.

The engine room

James Matthews did all of the work on the restoration except for the paint and body, and upholstery. He assures me that this engine is completely restored to original condition. It is perfectly clean with no leaks, spots, drips, or other obnoxious defects.

engine compartment in 66 mustang

The engine is as it should be, a ’66 Cobra. I did not get to hear it crank up, but I suspect the sound would raise the hair on the back of my neck.

The passenger compartment

Here, it was necessary for some creative “southern” engineering to make a car passenger compartment into a truck passenger compartment. It looks like what they did worked well.

Interior of 66 mustang car converted to pickup truck

The interior generally follows the John Deere mantra and looks to be imbued with proper creature comfort for a good ol’ boy’s derriere.

door and interior dashboard view of 66 mustang converted to pickup truck

The door and dashboard are ’66 all the way. Even the radio is original. Back in 66, it probably belted out “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” “Winchester Cathedral,” and “Cherish,” the number one, two, and three songs of the year in that order.

Mustang memorabilia

In 1968, Ford Motor Company had their advertising staff and agency create a new campaign, “Mustang Makes it Happen.” The signature piece of that promotion was a song of that title which was used as background music for radio and television commercials. The campaign and music are considered classics by most advertising people. Click below to hear it. The video runs nearly three minutes. The music has a strong five-string banjo track. It appears to target people who may want to escape a middle age crisis, a somewhat different approach from what we see today unless the ads are for fiber supplements, facelifts, or stool softeners.


Also in 1968, the movie “Bullitt” featured the late Steve McQueen in a ’68 Mustang 390 Cobra versus a ’68 Dodge R/T 440 full of bad guys. A lot of people, including yours truly, believe this car chase scene is the one by which others are measured. In deference to the “French Connection” car chase fans, I acknowledge that there is an argument both ways. The “Bullitt” chase sequence ran just over seven minutes. The clip below gets the meat of the coconut and only takes up a tad over three minutes of your precious time.

 

The Matthews Mustang collection

Somehow the terms “wrecking yard,” and “junk yard” just don’t seem to fit James Matthews collection of Mustang carcasses. The premises is as clean and well-tended as the White House lawn. The cars are lined up with military precision. All cars are off the ground. While the weather is not kind and ferrous oxide (that’s rust y’all) is running rampant in the yard, there is still value on the ground. And lots of nostalgia. Click here to see a panoramic shot of the entire collection premises.

wrecked mustangs at james matthews rosebud arkansas

It is as if a drill sergeant had given the command, “Mustangs, Dress Right, Dress.” For those of you not familiar with military commands, that is the command that tells the troops to line up. This is typical of the entire premises which is clean and well-ordered.

wrecked mustangs at james matthews at rose bud arkansas

As you stroll through the collections, you can hear throaty exhaust, and peeling rubber. Unfortunately, you also think of “did they make it ?” A touch of realty tempers sweet nostalgia.

Sometimes you just open your eyes and get lucky. I know. That’s what happened to me when I met James Matthews.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

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