Woodhaven employee restores one of first Mustangs off the line

Apr 25, 2024

The rotation sheet revealed that the 1965 Mustang Fastback rolled off the assembly line on September 21, 1964, in the early weeks of the 1965 model year. Painted in the elegant Caspian Blue, it was quickly bought but returned shortly afterward, its original owner unsatisfied with their choice.

The car found its second home with Ford Engineer Owen Grant, who cherished it until 2016. Initially, Grant used it for his daily commute from his Toledo home to work in Dearborn. That routine ended in 1974, and the Mustang was parked in his garage to be neglected for decades.

Keith Lenard heard about the car from a friend. In 2016, Keith and Alex Ignagni, a colleague at Woodhaven Stamping Plant, considered restoring it together. Lenard also wanted is son to be part of the project.

A History With Mustangs

"I consider myself the second owner," Lenard said after acquiring the car. "The original owner had it for just a few months, while Owen owned it for over 50 years."

The Ford Mustang has always been close to Lenard's heart. He bought his first one—a '65 Fastback—at the age of 16. It was a wreck when he got it, what he fondly called "a basket case." He picked up a ’72 Mustang convertible during his late teens. "The convertible was a blast," he recalled, reminiscing about cruising through downtown Detroit with friends to celebrate the Detroit Tigers' 1984 World Series win.

Closer Together

Restoring the '65 Fastback in 2016 was a bonding experience for Lenard and his son Kameron, who shares his passion for car restoration. Kameron also works at Flat Rock Assembly Plant building Mustangs.

At the start, the car was in a sorry state, covered in dents, and with parts scattered in boxes. Although they started disassembling it, Lenard's apprenticeship as an industrial truck mechanic in 2017 caused a pause. Eventually, they decided to enlist a specialty company to assist with the restoration due to Lenard's busy schedule.

By 2020, the restoration was complete, and the Mustang looked factory fresh, earning an award at the 2020 Detroit Autorama. The car retained its original 289 cubic inch V8 engine, automatic transmission, and Caspian Blue paint, with only minor modifications like front disc brakes and safety frame connectors.

"It's essentially how it left the assembly line," Lenard proudly stated.

The Mustang is now a showpiece, driven sparingly on special occasions like the Telegraph Cruise and various Mustang events. One memorable event was the Mustang Memories Poker Run in 2021, where Lenard's Mustang shared the spotlight with two newer-generation Mustangs belonging to the family of Gale Halderman, the original Mustang designer.

As Lenard nears retirement, he has one more dream project in mind: restoring a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 with a 428 Cobra Jet engine alongside his son Kameron. While he hasn't found one to purchase yet, he's keeping his eyes peeled.

The Phenomenon of Mustang

Mustang is America’s Best-Selling Sports Car

Ford Mustang is America’s best-selling sports car based on 2023 U.S. registrations – and the best-selling sports car globally for more than 10 years, as more than 59,000 customers took delivery of a Mustang last year. Ford has delivered nearly 1 million pony cars in the past decade.