From the time the first Ford Mustang captured the attention of the American motoring public in 1964, Gerald Lyddon has been hooked on Mustangs. While a student at the University of Illinois in Chicago, he bought a used first-model-year Mustang. It was red — and a convertible. Lyddon however had to sell it in 1969 when the U.S. Army sent him to Vietnam and Thailand.
Lyddon and his wife, Irene, had one child when they left the United States for Southeast Asia and by the time they returned in December 1971 they had two children. Practicality set in and the couple decided the car for the family would be a Dodge Dart. The Dart was followed by a succession of other sedans, wagons and vans to accommodate a total of four children.
Lyddon raised and supported his family and in 2004 he made a personal decision. “I always wanted to replace my first Mustang,” he said.
By this time Lyddon had moved his family to the Houston, Texas area. Lyddon began shopping for a Mustang and soon found a 1973 Mustang convertible for sale in nearby Conroe, Texas.
After a 50-mile drive north of Houston, Lyddon drove up to a driveway, where the red Mustang was parked in the sunshine. “That looks like what I want,” Lyddon remembers thinking.
Lyddon purchased the red convertible Mustang. “Thirty years later and nearing retirement I got the Mustang convertible I wanted when I was younger,” he says. He drove his dream car home to Richmond, Texas and he retired in 2006.
When new, the Mustang had a base price of $3,873.22. Optional extras that are listed on the original build sheet include: air conditioner ($367.59), Cruise-O-Matic ($203.73), steel-belted tires ($144), power steering ($102.85), console ($67.95), AM radio ($59.17), Decor package ($51), a 351 CID V-8 engine ($40.79), color-keyed racing mirrors ($23.25), and tinted glass ($13.52).
The rear window is plastic and is secured with a zipper. The exterior mirror on the driver’s door can be adjusted remotely. White letter tires are mounted on 15-inch wheels. “The wheels have a little pitting, but no rust,” Lyddon says.
Records indicate that the Mustang left the factory wearing a coat of red and a white convertible top. Sometime in the intervening years the car was repainted in the original color and the top is now black. Lyddon has two boots, one black and the other white, which he alternates whenever the top is in the lowered position. The seats are upholstered in white with the door panels covered in black vinyl. The carpet and dashboard are both black.
The 1973 convertible was originally equipped with a two-spoke steering wheel, but Lyddon has substituted a wood-grained steering wheel with three spokes. He explains that much of what makes the Mustang so appealing to him is that it was one of the last Mustang convertibles built by Ford for about 10 years.
He says fewer than 25,000 Mustang convertibles were made in three years from 1971 to 1973. “It is rare to see one now,” Lyddon says. Patience and perseverance paid off for Lyddon in realizing his successful quest for his 1973 Mustang convertible. — Vern Parker, Motor Matters