by Jon Mikelonis
Notorious in the Garage Forums under the username "FEandGoingBroke",
Gary Kitchens can be compared to "Norm" from Cheers
everytime he logs-in at www.fordmuscle.com. Always willing
to respond with a clever reply or one so steeped in innuendo
that it is only humorous to those in touch with Gary's heightened
sense of humor, everybody who has ever posted in the FordMuscle
forums has been touched by Gary.
Here's a shot of Gary taking a little body work break
while he and his father were thrashing to finish his sister's
Mustang in April 2007. Gary's true grit is apparent in
this shot, something tells us that his "STP"
shirt isn't one of those trendy "made-to-be-retro"
jobs you find at Target.
But don't judge
"FE" too quickly as a FordMuscle member looking
for attention or a just a friendly voice, Gary doubles as
a veteran Ford enthusiast with a great mix of mechanical know-how.
In fact, around FordMuscle, Gary Kitchens can best be described
as a valuable technical contributor with a load of personality.
Gary's mix of mechanical aptitude, drive, and generosity,
were recently made public in one great story he posted in
Garage Forum. The story was so impressive that the staff
decided to transform the saga into "permanent record"
by bringing it to the forefront for all to see.
In the summer of 1980, Sandy Kitchens (Gary's dad) bought
his daughter Helena a powder blue 1966 Mustang equipped with
a 200 cubic inch 1V 6 cylinder and a C4 transmission. A casualty
of a rear-end collision, the pony was purchased from an insurance
company for about $450. Sandy, a paint a body professional,
repaired the damaged car. Needless to say, at 16 years old,
Helena Kitchens loved the Mustang that propelled her through
the most impressionable years of her life.
By 1986 Helena was married with two children and taking on
of parenting with full force. That year, Helena's husband
Dawayne suggested it was time to sacrifice the Mustang for
a larger car to accommodate their growing family. Helena and
Dawayne would eventually have a total of five children, which
obsoleted the need for what is basically an extended two-seater.
Soon enough, Helena placed
a call to her dad (Sandy) and asked for permission to sell
the car he so lovingly gave to his teenage daughter back in
1980. Sandy told Helena that the Mustang was her car and ultimately
the decision to keep or sell it was hers. The car sold and
life went on. However, deep in the subconscious mind of Helena's
wonderful husband was a nagging feeling that he'd never been
forgiven for initiating the sale of the Mustang. Seventeen
years later, Dawayne began his quest to get his wife Helena
a proper replacement 1966 Mustang.
In early 2004, Dawayne found a Mustang
he could afford that wouldn't show up on the Helena's financial
radar. Once purchased, Dawayne took the car to his father-in-law's
place to begin the restoration. It was a rusty, banged up,
1966, 289-2V, 3-speed car which started life in green then
was mercilessly traded for brown, then yellow, then black
and eventually red with none of the previous paint removed
before each re-spray. While it was a horrible mess of a job,
Sandy hit it hard every other weekend until he was unexpectedly
hospitalized for five months. Everything went into a holding
pattern as Gary and Helena's father could not work like he
used to. Ever since the hospitalization, the Mustang project
progressed very slowly.
stumbled across this 1966 Mustang in Vacaville, CA. It
would become the replacement for the car his sister unwillingly
sold 27 years ago.
In March 2006, during a lazy Saturday afternoon out hunting
artifacts at local yard sales, Gary stumbled across an exact
replica of the car his dad gave to his sister 27 years ago.
Sitting under boxes of yardsale material and piles of plumbing
supplies was a Mustang patiently waiting for Gary to come
and rescue. All it took was $500 bucks.
Three months later while visiting his
father in Seattle, Gary took a peek in the garage to check
on the progress of the "red-brown-black-yellow-green"
Mustang that was supposed to be gifted to Helena. The car
was in such disarray that Gary immediately gave his brother-in-law
the baby blue '66 that Gary found in Vacaville, with a promise
that he'd restore it for Helena. Gary wasn't about to let
anybody give his baby sister the atrocious pile that his father
was working on... 289 or not. While a much better foundation
to work with, the baby blue Mustang still needed work before
it could be presented to Helena. Let's take a look at what
Gary pulled off.
Here's a shot of the '66 Gary scored at a yard sale. The
Mustang wasn't a driver when he bought it.
A call in to roadside assistance brought the car to his
driveway at Travis AFB. That's Gary's 61 four-door Falcon
peaking in from the top left of the photo.
The Mustang's factory I-6 was intact but in need of some
In no time at all the motor was on an engine stand in
Gary's driveway, ready for tear down.
for Port Orchard, Washington)