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Mogle muscle
Husband and wife share their rare American sports cars
By Kathleen Ostrander

Bonnie Mogle doesn't mind leaving the house after her husband. She will get the pick of the cars left in the garage. Let's see ... should she take the rare 1968 California Special Mustang?

How about the head-turning lime green 1968 AMC AMX?

How about the zippy little 1968 Shelby Cobra kit car?

The Mogles, who own MB Heating and Cooling Inc., work hard at their company and then use the down time to enjoy their cars. "Bonnie supports my passion," said Ray Mogle.

"I knew from high school that cars were his passion, so we've got cars," said Bonnie Mogle with a big smile.

And with the cars comes a nicely tricked-out garage including a special lift for the Cobra kit car. A toy train runs on a track suspended just below the ceiling.

The train engine is hauling, of course, flatbed train cars with autos on top and a car hauler perched on one of the train cars. The joke at the Mogle house is that they will stop collecting cars when they get the same number of cars that the train is hauling. Although a new train car may just appear out of nowhere if they really feel compelled to add to their collection.

In terms of rarity and the "head-turn factor" both the California Special and the AMX are right up there.

The black and white California Special was a mid-year production car that was only made from February 1968 until August of '68. It was a marketing ploy by California Ford dealers to boost sales. The car even had its own slogan "California Makes it Happen," a take on the Mustang slogan, "Only Mustang makes it Happen."

The Mogles have had it about three years and did a little cosmetic work on it. It has a 429 engine, which was not the original engine, according to Ray Mogle.

Ray Mogle said he saw the California Special advertised online, and he fell in love.

The AMX was purchased in St. Louis, and Ray Mogle tracked down the original owner in North Carolina. "He said he hadn't seen it in years because he lost it in a divorce," added Ray Mogle.

"I get a lot of 'thumbs up' when I drive this car," he said. "This is the car that makes everybody go 'whoa' when they see it," added his wife.

It is painted Nitro Yellow-Green, a color recently revived for the Dodge Neon.

Ray Mogle said the hood had to be changed, and he had to find Redline radial tires, which are not so readily available. He's had the AMX for six years. "This is the one that started the really serious collecting," he said.

"It wins a lot of trophies at car shows because you just don't see a lot of them," he said. The Mogle cars are not sissy cars that spend their lives on trailers unless they are at a show.

"We drive 'em," said Ray Mogle, "we even race the AMX at the AMC Nationals."

The 1968 Shelby Cobra kit car was bought from an estate, and although it got new seats, it is still a bit too uncomfortable for Bonnie Mogle to drive it very much. The short sporty car is made for long legs, and those are in short supply for her.

"Ray drives it quite a bit, but you have to be careful - it doesn't have a top," she said.

The sporty convertible, modeled after British racing coupes, has red stripes across the hood. "Red stripes were put on the racing cars to designate a rookie," explained Ray Mogle. "That meant the other drivers needed to be careful when they were driving around a car with the stripes."

It is the original kit, down to the rivets on the hood, Ray Mogle said. "The guy that built it was a real artist. He built it in a storage unit because he didn't want anyone to know he had it."

Story published Friday, March 6, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 2 )

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