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Passionate passenger
By Kathleen Ostrander

It seems only fair that Verna Cutler, one of the original members of the Route 66 Cruisers, would have some really nice cars stashed in her palatial garage - and she does.

The purple-passion 1923 Ford T-bucket was acquired without a motor, transmission or headlights. When her husband, Don, and her son got done with the restoration, it was a gleaming purple with flames down the side and it was very, very shiny.

"Don liked his chrome," said Verna Cutler. "They took it down to the frame, sandblasted it and anything that could be chromed, even if it didn't show, was chromed."

It's got a 350 Chevy motor and the valve covers are inscribed with "Ford" with tunnel ram intakes - it could probably really go, although Cutler said a valve is hanging up so she's going to need to fix it before she takes it cruising to a car club function.

T-buckets are supposed to be modernized and modified, so no grief on the Chevy-Ford mix. Her husband wanted to install neon running lights around the lower part of the frame, she said, but the car is so low there wasn't enough clearance. A close look at the hood ornament reveals it's a chromed water gauge.

Since there's not room for groceries or grandkids in the T-bucket, Cutler could take out the 1954 four 4-door turquoise Chevy Bel Air. The '54s have the same body style as the '53s, but they came with a more powerful engine, a slightly different grille and a different bird hood ornament.

"It had 25,000 miles on it when we got it in 1983, and now it's only showing 35,000 miles," she said.

The Cutlers had a new motor put in as well as air conditioning. The dash was re-fabricated to add the air conditioning controls, and it's nearly impossible to tell that it's been changed.

But the sweetest car she has was a Valentine's Day present her husband gave her before he died. Her 1973 Mustang convertible is all original except for the Crager mags that she wanted. Bright red with a white top, the fourth-generation Mustang is an automatic and for sentimental reasons, her favorite car.

The 1973 model is the last year Ford used that base for its Mustangs. In subsequent years, Ford produced Pinto-based Mustangs. The last year of the Mustang convertibles in that body style was 1973 because of government regulations for 10 years.

 

 

Story published Friday, July 3, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 4 )

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