“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
Road trips are a true American pastime and something everyone has, had or should have on their bucket list. Hitting the open road lends a certain sense of freedom that leads to adventure in itself. The American landscape is rich with sights and sounds that make our country so great, and travelers gain a greater respect and understanding of our culture than what we’re used to finding at home.
There are lucky folks that have turned their road-tripping dreams into a near-constant reality. Courtney Barber has an adventurous spirit and a one-of-a-kind ’65 Mustang to carry her on her travels, and there have been many. As the head of Team Mustang Girls, Courtney has immersed herself into the Mustang lifestyle, spending countless hours transforming her own into a true rally road warrior and daily driver. She does her own repairs and possesses a steadfast resolve that her automotive sidekick will never, ever be hauled around as a trailer queen.
Courtney has amassed quite a following of fans and sponsors eager to assist in keeping her on the road and pursuing her passion. AMSOIL is on board as a product sponsor, which will help maintain her engine over the course of thousands of miles in the coming year. She’s currently preparing for the Rally North America, Bullrun and our very own AMSOIL America Adventure road tour events. As they say, life’s a journey, not a destination. Courtney is in the thick of it now and collecting irreplaceable memories and experiences that most of us only dream about. We caught up with Courtney to get a little background on who she is and how she brought the idea of Team Mustang Girls to reality.
Tell us a bit about your automotive background and what ignited your passion for Mustangs.
My father has always been a Ford guy and I definitely got my passion for Mustangs and cars from him. He actually has a 2007 Mustang but my love is for the classics. Next I want to get a 70’s Bronco or Stingray. I didn’t start working on cars until I bought my ’65 Mustang. I’ve always been a “Mr. Fix It” type person. I love to take things apart and try to fix them. The internet is great with all the helpful videos. Once I got my car I turned my tinkering on dryer belts and lamps to my Mustang. It started out with rewiring taillights and now has grown into a total rebuild of my car.
What was it about the ’65 Mustang that spurred a plane ride to purchase it sight-unseen off eBay?
I’m one of those people who gets an idea and can’t think about anything else. My lease was coming to an end on my Jeep Cherokee and I decided I wanted to get my dream car, a ’65 Mustang. 2 weeks later I was on a plane headed to Wichita, Kansas. Very little thought went into my plan! I had never driven a classic car. I had no idea what it meant to not to have power steering and all drum brakes. When I first started the 1300 mile trek back to South Carolina by myself I passed the first stop sign by 4 feet, the window dropped down at the first toll booth, the heat wouldn’t work and I had blisters on my hands from clenching the steering wheel on the highway. The first night I stopped at a hotel that wasn’t in the best area and I started second guessing my great plan to have a 50 year old car as my daily driver. Of course at the time I would never have said that because then I would’ve had to admit my mother was right. Instead I had a talk with God and told him, “If I’m going to die on this road trip home just let someone steal the car.” The next morning I woke up and there she was, right where I parked her so I hopped in and continued my crazy journey home. Looking back now it’s one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. To me life isn’t fun without challenge; it’s what makes us appreciate the good things that happen.
You have worked tirelessly to turn the Mustang into the car it is today. Tell us about the modifications you’ve done so far.
Where do I even start? The first big upgrade I ever did was Steeroids Rack and Pinion. It was amazing the difference it made. I went from feeling like I was ice skating down the highway to being in complete control. Speed Direct also supplied me with their Vortex CoilOver Suspension which made the handling ever better. After that came air conditioning from Old Air Products, which was very necessary living in South Carolina. Then Kicker came along and changed my entire cruising experience with the best sounding tunes ever. There’s nothing better than driving down the road with Styx singing to you! Two years ago I swapped out the original 6 cylinder engine with a 351 Windsor, added BFG T/A Radials, upgraded to power brakes from Scott Drake, JBA Exhaust and a 9 inch rear end and Granada front disc brakes courtesy of craigslist. Now as Mustang Monthly’s project car my whole world has changed. As an avid Craigslister and visitor of LKQ junkyards I don’t know what to do with all these fancy new parts! Ford Racing sent a 347 Stroker Circle Track Motor, Performance Automatic hooked me up with an overdrive transmission, CPP supplied disc brakes for the whole car, YearOne sent new Magnum wheels, Comp 2’s from BFGoodrich, new wiring harness from Painless, a Serpentine belt system from Eddie Motorsports and all new sheet metal from NPD. I’m not sure if I’m even going to recognize my car by the time I’m done.
What was the hardest modification/upgrade to complete?
Being a project car (entirely) has to be the toughest so far. Not only are you doing a ton of work and having to take photos and document everything but you are also on a deadline. Yes, all the new fancy stuff is great but when we started to tear down the car the rust was much worse than ever imagined. I had planned from the start to replace the rear quarter panels but ended up adding the wheel wells, back frame rails, floor pans, front engine aprons and radiator support to the list. Needless to say that added a lot of time to the project. My life since February 4th has revolved around building this car. I no longer know what a weekend is and I miss my friends! But there is an end in sight, and I know once it’s done it will be amazing.
What is still on your vehicle ‘wish list’?
It’s horrible to say and I think most people will think I’m nuts, but my wish list is an old beater. The more new fancy stuff I put in the car the more I know I have to take care of it. I fell in love with my car because I could park it in the bushes, sit on it, do donuts in the mud and never lock the doors. Now I have this nice shiny new thing and I’m almost scared to drive it. But the key word is almost. It will never be a trailer queen. She will always be a driver.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview on Monday.