The Family Ride

A vintage Mustang brings grandfather and granddaughter together.

By Kathy Sena

Rachel Foster was drawn to her grandfather’s Wimbledon White 1968 Ford Mustang from pretty much the time she could walk. “When she was about 18 months old, she wanted to help me wash it,” says Bill Rachel. He lives next door to his daughter Michelle’s family in Azle, Texas, allowing her daughter Rachel to make plenty of trips to Gramma and Grandad’s house to visit them, and the car, over the years.

“I bought the Mustang from its second owner, in 1987, for Michelle to drive to high school,” says Bill. “It was an all-original 289 with power steering and air-conditioning. I eventually overhauled the engine and repainted it, keeping the original paint color.” Michelle got married, little Rachel came along, and the car ended up back with Bill. For Rachel, the ritual of hanging out in the garage with her grandfather began early.

“I’d be out there working, and even when she was a kid, she’d come by to see what was going on,” says Bill, who eventually started introducing Rachel to the mechanical side of the Mustang. When she was in junior high, she started dropping hints about wanting to drive the car to school when she got her license. “At first I was reluctant, but after she helped me pack the wheel bearings and change out the carburetor, we bonded over the old Mustang and I gave in,” Bill says. And when the time came, she took the responsibility seriously. “She even found a spot at the corner of the school parking lot where she wouldn’t get the doors dinged, and that became her spot.”

Not long after Rachel started driving the Mustang, she entered it in a car show at her high school and won an award, says Bill. “In fact, there’s a picture of her in her high-school yearbook, with the car,” he adds, noting that everyone at school knew what the Mustang meant to Rachel. “We’ve always been close,” says Bill. “One day she said ‘I love the smell of this garage. If you decide to give anything away at some point, I’d love to have your garage.’”

There’s likely to be a very special white Mustang, with a long family history, that comes along with the garage, he adds. “I’ve still got the car, and she says she’s first in line if I ever part with it.”

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