Passion for Mustangs Still Roaring After 53 Years

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Photos by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK These three classic Ford Mustangs are just a few of many meticulously restored by San Marino resident Dale Pederson throughout his life. He fell in love with the car when Ford first unveiled it in 1964.
Photos by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
These three classic Ford Mustangs are just a few of many meticulously restored by San Marino resident Dale Pederson throughout his life. He fell in love with the car when Ford first unveiled it in 1964.

Nearly 53 years ago, Dale Pederson bore witness to the birth of one of the most storied models of automobile and also the birth of a passion that continues to this day.
Pederson was in a Los Angeles-area Ford showroom on April 17, 1964, when Ford unveiled its new Mustang, the first of the pony cars that ran on a rear-wheel drive powertrain and a heck of a lot of horsepower under the hood.
“There was a convertible and a coupe sitting on the showroom floor,” Pederson recalled, relaxing one weekend in his “man cave” that was adorned with Ford and Mustang regalia, personal photos of the cars and even a wall clock that chimed engine roars every hour. “To see what they were calling a modern muscle car was just a thrill.”
A brand-new Mustang was not to be for the mid-20s Pederson. He pointed out that he had recently been married and had bought a house.
“I could not afford the $2,300 for the new model,” he said.
Things have a way of working out, though. Throughout his life, Pederson, whose career was mostly in real estate, has bought and restored seven Mustangs, three of which remain in his garage and see periodic use (he sent each of his kids to college with a restored Mustang.) He owns a handsome ivy green coupe, a bold red convertible and a catchy white coupe.
“I won’t have anything but a ’65 or ’66 Mustang,” Pederson said. “None of the others appealed to me to this day, except maybe for the newer one, the ’15 one.”
Once he gets his hands on the classic car, Pederson said he’ll take the entire thing apart, even its engine and transmission. He’ll clean what he can, have body work done, order any new parts for fabrication and then put the car back together piece by piece. All of the interior cabin work and upholstery also is done by Pederson’s hands.
“I know who to blame when they don’t run well,” he quipped.
The red convertible was basically a shell when Pederson bought it in 1992, as shown by a photograph he took of it. The white coupe, which he bought in 1999, became a special project: It now carries a 32-valve Cobra V8 engine that comes from Ford’s high-performance division.
“It was just what I wanted,” he said. “No motor, no transmission, nothing.”
Ford has designated the anniversary date as “National Mustang Day,” a day for owners and enthusiasts to band together and make round-trips with their local car clubs and admire each other’s models. Pederson had a map in which he outlined one of these trips he made to Alabama and back. He also fondly recalled a Las Vegas excursion that involved a caravan of classic Mustangs.
Nowadays, Pederson makes sure to take one of his Mustangs out for a spin routinely, usually to work out in Glendale, or he sometimes lets one of his children borrow one.
“I try to drive one once a week,” he said. “Of course, in the winter, the convertible kind of sits around.”
Throughout his years, Pederson said some friends and family have wondered why he doesn’t get into newer models of cars or simply branch out to collecting other cars at the same time. For him, the answer is usually pretty simple.
“I say, ‘Well, I kind of like these,’’ he said.

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