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Charlie Richards 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback - Committed

Charlie Richards Has Had A 40-Year Relationship With His Car.

By , Photography by

As a kid, Charlie Richards would sit in the driver seat of his uncle's Mustang, working the pedals, running the shifter through the gears, and dreaming of the day he could own such a car. Who among us can't relate? As adolescents, we yearned for the day we could pilot a car down the road, newly minted license in hand and unfettered by the overprotective minding of an adult chaperone.

It's likely, though, that not so many of us got to sit and daydream in the exact car we lusted after, and far fewer of us would actually come to own the very car that inspired our youthful fantasies. That is what makes Charlie Richards' story so interesting. His dream car was his uncle's Mustang: a '67 fastback with a big-block engine and four-speed transmission. The car was special-ordered by the family in 1966, and Charlie was able to buy it from them in 1972. The car in these pictures is the same one he lusted after when he was 14 and the one he bought for $1,000 when he was 17. And now, 38 years later, he still grins like a teenager when he looks at this Mustang, the only car he ever really wanted.

"I just love this body style," he explains. "I like all Mustangs, but this was the one I wanted." In the trunk, Charlie carries a copy of the Oct. '66 issue of Car Craft with a '67 Mustang on the cover. A longtime reader of CC, Charlie became smitten with the car when he saw the cover shot.

In nearly 40 years of ownership, Charlie has slowly rebuilt the car from the ground up, continuing to drive it the whole time. "The engine has been rebuilt three times," he tells us. He added tasteful but hidden upgrades along the way, swapping the stock front disc brakes for better performing ones from a Granada, installing an overdrive transmission in place of the original Top Loader, and upgrading the suspension with better springs, shocks, bushings, and sway bars.

It is so pretty, one could easily dismiss Charlie's '67 as a pampered show car. That would be a mistake, however. Charlie drives this car every weekend. He is a regular at one of the Sunday morning car shows in the San Fernando Valley, and after the show, he enjoys wringing out the car on the canyon roads above Malibu. This car is more than just a pretty face; it holds its own in the corners-we can attest to that. And though 330 hp does not sound like that much these days, it is plenty enough for real-world driving. The 390 starts on the first crank of the starter motor, does not overheat, willingly smokes the tires, and sounds great-but with an understated manner that matches the car's exterior.

When one hears how little Charlie paid for this car and sees how good it looks now, it is logical to wonder if he would consider selling it. He could stand to make quite a bit of money. "I do get asked a lot," he says. "But I can't sell it." If you could see the way he lights up when he talks about his car, you would understand.

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