By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer

 
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Greg Smith of Aurora shines his 1966 Mustang before the Montrose Ford 50th Anniversary celebration of the Mustang on Thursday. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal)
Jerry Cafarelli bought his first Ford Mustang, a bright yellow Boss 302, in 1969 when he just got out of college and started work at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. as a tire development engineer.

The now 67-year-old Akron resident still has the car, which has been fully restored and has won top awards at Mustang Club of America events in the Midwest.

“When I bought it, I knew I was going to keep it,” Cafarelli said. He paid $3,925 for the car and said the years-long restoration project, starting in 2005 by Bob Young at Main Paint & Body off Manchester Road, cost a lot more.

“He took it down to every nut and bolt,” Cafarelli said. His daily driver is a charcoal gray 2014 Mustang GT and added that by comparison, the ’69 Mustang is “definitely old school driving.”

Cafarelli was among members of the Northeastern Ohio Mustang Club who drove their vintage and newer models to Montrose Ford in Fairlawn this week to celebrate the Mustang’s official 50th birthday.

The two-hour event showed off the evolution of the original pony car from its very beginnings to the latest high performance versions — and included anticipation by club members of the completely redesigned 2015 Mustang that Ford will roll out this fall.

“They really do appeal to all age groups,” said Dan Russell, 27, who specializes in sales of Roush Performance custom Mustangs at Montrose Ford. The Michigan-built Roush Mustangs include styling changes and performance enhancements that include suspension modifications to supercharged engines; prices start at about $40,000 and can hit $70,000, Russell said.

Greg Smith, an Aurora resident, brought his 1966 Mustang out of winter hibernation for the first time on Thursday and drove it to the Fairlawn event. He said he bought the silver blue metallic car, with its 289 V-8 engine, seven years ago shortly after he turned 50 from an owner in California.

“She’s been in storage all winter. She got here,” Smith said. “This was my mid-life crisis car.”

Smith said his dad worked for Ford at its Walton Hills stamping plant and at one point made pieces for the original Mustang.

“It’s kind of cool to think the original pony car is still around,” Smith said. “They wanted to capture the excitement of the Baby Boomers.”

Smith said he likes the looks of the redesigned 2015 Mustang that soon goes on sale.

“It’s a gorgeous car,” he said. “Ford is now making a world Mustang. You can buy it anywhere. That’s pretty exciting.”

Marilyn Wanacheck, 58, and her daughter, Abby, 24, showed off their respective Mustangs. Marilyn’s husband, John, is president of the local Mustang club; he drove to North Carolina with other club members for a Ford-sponsored Mustang celebration at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Marilyn said she and her husband own three Mustangs. “My husband restores them,” she said. “He just loves the restoring.”

Abby Wanacheck said she drives a 2014 Roush RS convertible Mustang and admires “the look, the feel, the power.”

Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com

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