When Ford Motor Company was designing the 50th anniversary version of its famous Mustang, CEO. Mark Fields, knowing what was at stake, declared, “You don’t want to screw up an icon.”
One look at Arlington dentist Mike Thomas’ classic 1965 beauty, and you know immediately what the Ford boss was talking about.
The company ushered in a whole new era of muscle-car mania with the debut of what is affectionately known as the “pony car” when it first appeared in showrooms for less than $2,500.
The Mustang’s inspired long hood and short deck introduced a styling trend that has characterized both the popular sportster and racing versions since then.
Dr. Thomas and his lifelong friend Brad Burris have been restoring cars together for a couple of years, and their Mustang project was completed in November of 2014.
They have produced this “resto-mod” custom Mustang and now are turning heads on local streets and attracting lots of attention at car shows.
While their car passion is a hobby, they enjoy the financial rewards that come with reproducing the timeless appearance of the original along with the performance, comfort and safety features of modern parts and equipment.
That makes it possible to move on to the next projects, which include a 1968 Dodge Super Bee and 1965 Shelby Daytona.
“Brad and I started working together several years ago as he was recovering from stage 4 cancer,” Thomas explained. “I would go over and lend a hand with projects that he already had going.
“We had so much fun that we decided to team up on our hobby to produce some great muscle cars. We enjoy buying old cars that are rather rough and bringing them back to their former glory.
“The problem-solving keeps our brains active, and the creative process fills a deep need. Most of all we get to drive some really cool cars – then we sell them off and start over again.”
After pursuing his passion for dentistry for 30-plus years he is still excited every day to get to the tasteful Texan-themed office and “see what God has in store for me.”
“I love to create beautiful smiles, and I tell my patients that if I can build an entire car, I can rebuild your teeth.”
Mike and Brad’s Mustang features a big, 302-cubic-inch, V8 high- output engine, along with a five-speed floor mounted shifter between the adjustable driver, and passenger bucket seats.
Ford’s production of the ’65 model included front seat belts, a light for the glove box and a padded dashboard. It officially rolled into the spotlight at the 1964 World’s Fair, where crowds gathered along a circular railing to see it rotating on a giant pedestal in the middle of the show.
If you visit Mike’s Facebook page you will find three movies that he identifies as his favorites. It will come as no surprise that the first one listed is the 1968 action thriller Bullitt starring Steve McQueen.
If you know anything about the film, it features what is regarded as one of the most exciting chase scenes ever on the big screen.
While driving his Mustang GT, McQueen’s character speedily pursues a couple of hit men in a Dodge Charger through the famous hilly streets of San Francisco in a scene that ends with the bad guys crashing into a gas station, resulting in an explosion that will still take your breath away.
Mike’s Mustang makes the same throaty roar as McQueen’s.
Fantasies aside, Dr. Thomas has it all in just the right perspective. “God has blessed me with a great profession, a wonderful wife and family, a terrific hobby, and I am very grateful.”