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Wichita woman’s dream Mustang comes back to life

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at 6:33 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at 6:34 a.m.

There is something about that car. You can see it in Judy and Roger Lashley’s faces when they talk about it. It helped bring them together more than 45 years ago and it has stayed with them all those years, a fond reminder of their early days together.

"In 1966, a girl’s dream was to have a Mustang convertible," recalled Judy, who at the time was working as the first full-time secretary to Dan and Frank Carney at Pizza Hut.

She went to the Turner Ford dealership on East Douglas and told the salesman what she wanted. "It had to be special ordered, Tahoe Turqouise. The only options were an AM radio and power top," Judy recalled.

"I still remember the feeling of driving it off the lot when the car came in."

She had met Roger when she bought a pair of red shoes from him at Head’s Shoe Store in the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center, where he worked. As her office was in the same shopping center, they ran into each other occasionally at a coffee shop there.

"Before the new car arrived, I saw him there and told him I would take him for a ride," Judy said. "The ride included heading out east on Central. He said we were almost to Lake Afton and I knew that was wrong. He meant Santa Fe, but said Afton. We made a bet and he lost the bet, so to pay up, our second date was beer and pizza to pay it off.

"Almost all of our dates were in the new 1966 Mustang, as he had a 1959 4-door, 6-cylinder, 3-speed pink Chevy, which was not very sporty," Judy noted.

That was fine with Roger. "We dated and fell in love," he said, adding that he never had to pay for pizza again.

Roger proposed on Christmas Eve and the couple married on June 10, 1967, taking the Mustang to the Ozarks on their honeymoon.

"I drove it as my work car for a couple of years," he said. As they began raising a family, the Mustang convertible proved less than a practical family car.

"We kept the car, but didn’t drive it as it was pretty tired and worn out. Sometimes it sat out and some times it was lucky to be in a garage, thanks to one of our good friends," Judy said.

About 35 years ago, a neighbor offered the Lashleys $300 for the Mustang and Judy was sorely tempted to let it go. But Roger held out and kept the convertible, thinking some day he would restore it for his wife.

He did have the 200 cubic inch 6-cylinder engine rebuilt by Tom Reed at D&R Motors in Maize about 20 years ago. Roger and son Craig took a shot at the restoration project, but the car "was pretty rough … we were doing it kind of piecemeal," Roger said.

"After that, it went to a guy who did some work for our son and he was to finish the car. The progress was slow and I was very impatient to get it done," Judy said.

Then this spring, Roger made a trip to Oklahoma City to pick up some parts for the Mustang. He decided to look up a long-lost cousin, Clayton Lashley, and was pleasantly surprised to discover Clayton was also a "car guy" and in fact now runs his own restoration shop.

"Clayton said he would like to take on the project. I was so excited, as I had wanted that to happen for at least the past 30 years," Judy said.

The car was hauled to Oklahoma City at the end of July and the project quickly came together after that.

The engine was pulled out and repainted, but needed little other work, so it was reinstalled, along with the original 3-speed manual transmission. Roger said there was no temptation to replace it with a V-8. "We wanted to keep it as original as possible," he said.

Rusted floor pans were replaced and the body work smoothed before a fresh Tahoe Turquoise paint job was applied. Even the original hubcaps were cleaned up and reused, although larger 195 /75R /14 Uniroyal Tiger Paw radial tires were mounted to the 14-inch, 4-bolt wheels.

New upholstery was used to freshen the bucket seats, rear seat and door panels. One upgrade was the addition of an AM/FM stereo radio supplied by Obsolete Ford.

After all that delay, the Mustang convertible was restored to better than showroom status in just over three months. "He really stepped on it. He gave it everything he had," an appreciative Judy said of Clayton Lashley’s efforts.

"I think I about cried when I saw it. It looked just like it did when I drove it off the lot at Turner Ford," she said.

And she bragged just a little, noting that both her husband and son killed the engine when they first tried to drive her reborn Mustang, but she drove away smoothly on her first try.

"This is my bride’s car, her pride and joy," Roger said. "The only thing I did was wear it out and replace it for her."

"We are just going to drive it for special occasions. I don’t think it will ever go out of town," Judy said. "We are going to keep it and baby it for the rest of our lives."

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