Owners’ Muscle Car Reviews UK—Charlie Fuller’s 1966 Mustang - Muscle Car

Owners’ Muscle Car Reviews UK—Charlie Fuller’s 1966 Mustang

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Written by Elise

2nd December 2020

Owners’ Muscle Car Reviews UK—Charlie Fuller’s 1966 Mustang
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Owners’ Muscle Car Reviews UK—Charlie Fuller’s 1966 Mustang

Despite the abundance of car magazines and the multi-sensory overload of sophisticated websites dedicated to revelling in the glory that are classic V8 engines, few resources actually give people a sense of what it is to own and drive the car of your dreams every day.

Websites are full of ads and reviews, forums are full of advice and opinions, while Youtube is full of cars only millionaires can afford. Which can leave you wondering: what about the ordinary petrol head who doesn’t want a toy project but instead saves up for their one dream car? What are the everyday logistics of owning and maintaining a beautiful classic car when you don’t have a fleet of garages or the resources to build it back up from the ground?

Every potential client that Muscle Car UK comes across has a story to tell about the car that changed their life or helped them achieve their dreams. We thought we would reach out and ask: what’s yours? 

Do you own a beautiful example of classic American muscle or any other classic car? Sign up for your own Owners’ Review interview and follow-up article.

Up first is Charlie Fuller, who just before his twentieth birthday became the owner of a classic 1966 Ford Mustang Coupe 289 Automatic.

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Charlie, tell us a little bit more about yourself. How did you get into cars and classic cars specifically?

I think from about the age of 6 or 7. My uncle always had a penchant for classic American stuff, and he loved Mustangs and Fords, so that was always with me. I remember he had a 1967 or 1968 Mustang Coupe Wimbledon White 289 V8. He went to London to get it and it sat on our drive for about 4 years. As a kid, I was obsessed with it. I just used to stare at that Mustang and he always promised he would take me out in it, but it never happened! 

So I always promised myself that I would buy one. Then, when I started working at the age of 16, I always stashed my money away and ended up buying mine outright a few weeks before my 20th birthday. I was very lucky because of my home situation and it’s one of those things that was always meant to be, really. My name has always been associated with my uncle’s Mustang because at school everyone knew he had one and so it was bound to be that I would buy one eventually! 

It’s very much a family thing, like a legacy. I think what is so special about Mustangs is that the majority of people who love them had a family member or friend that owned one or knew someone that had one and then the buck just passes round. 

Classic Ford Mustangs are quite contagious. When I went to view mine, I told my mum and dad that I wouldn’t fall in love with it instantly… but as soon as I saw it and I went near it, I knew even if there was an engine problem like a piston that was gone, I was going to bring this one home. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

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It’s certainly a massive achievement because you’re still so young and it shows dedication and hard work on your part! But something else that requires dedication is your Instagram account; you’ve managed to amass a following of 21,000 people, which is amazing. What is your mission on Instagram?

Well, Instagram is a funny thing because that started when I found photos of my uncle’s car on the driveway and I thought they were very cool, so I put two pictures up and every day for 3 years I just kept posting. I never really had a set goal with it and never thought “I’m going to build something”—I just started it. As I ventured into drag racing when I started going to Santa Pod and meeting all of these people it just went from there, really. You start connecting with all of these people that you would never meet. 

It’s a lot of dedication, Instagram, because you have to commit to a lot of things, but it’s extremely rewarding and I do have a lot planned now. I did start a Youtube channel during the lockdown as well. I filmed an introduction and couldn’t film anything else because of the situation, but what I want to do is actually launch a clothing line. I’ve got a guy designing some T-shirts that I’m going to release and 

I’ve also collaborated with a few pages including a guy that runs loads of accounts now on UK classic Mustangs and he has a British page – I think he’s got 40,000 followers and I sort of helped him build that.

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What is it like owning such an important part of automotive history and culture when you’re still so young?

What I find with being young and owning one is that it is a lot of dedication. As I said earlier, because of my home living situation, I was fortunate in that with every single bit of money that I earned, I knew what I wanted. When I bought my 1966 Mustang coupe in the UK, insurance was very hard to find but I was very lucky to have I had a friend who helped. 

Owning a classic Ford Mustang at a young age is like going out and buying your dream car immediately – you’ve got it. When I bought mine I had no mechanical experience so I’d never rebuilt stuff, I’d never done anything in car mechanics! 

While it’s daunting, they teach you so much because they’re so simple and parts are so easy to buy that no matter what you put into it, they’re a lovely car to own. So the whole project with Instagram takes dedication but I find that both that and the Mustangs are such rewarding aspects that I wouldn’t trade them. They’re the best hobbies you can have!

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What’s your favourite thing about your 1966 Mustang coupe?

I think my favourite thing about my car is that it is very detailed and has a few quirks to it. It has little horses embroidered into the interior, which I think it was an option when I ran through the tags. I think the main reason I was attracted to mine is that 1966 was the year my mum was born and I prefer the shape over the 1967 Mustang now, but that’s probably because I own it! 

The colour is vintage burgundy from the factory but it was re-sprayed in America before I bought it, so it has this fantastic shiny colour you can just stare at in the sun. Apart from that, as far as Mustangs go it hasn’t had much done to it. The only things I’ve changed about it are a new performer, intake and a 4-barrel carburettor I put on it to make it faster. 

Road trips are my favourite thing to do with my Mustang. In the summer I generally try and use my classic Ford Mustang as much as I can. My biggest journey was that Santa Pod trip which was about 300 miles in a weekend, then to view my brother’s car I think it was 150 miles both ways. I’m always a little bit scared because it is an old car, but I think if you keep it maintained and have basic mechanic knowledge, 90% of the time if you’re going to stop at the side of the road there is always a little something you can tweak to get it going again! 

The only issue I’ve had with mine is cooling, but I changed the radiator so the thermostat doesn’t play up anymore. It’s lovely to cruise and I drive mine as much as I can. Sadly, I have to have the arches sprayed on mine, then it is going away for the winter until the spring comes next year.

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Tell us more about drag racing and how you got into it? What was the first car you used in a race and what kind of personal growth did you experience from it? 

I was at my Dad’s work doing work experience and someone asked if I’d ever been to Santa Pod Raceway and I said no, I’ve heard of it but I’ve never been there. In 2018, I started following a few people that raced on Instagram. So I went in 2018 to the Mopar Euro Nationals, which is the biggest muscle car show in the UK and Europe, and it was one of the best things I’d ever seen! 

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I walked up the hill and there were these massive cars doing giant burn-outs and the noise was like an opera, really, of everything to do with cars! I was instantly hooked. This year, the first car I ever took down the straight was my Mustang. I went down on a Saturday—I think it was 180 miles—set the tent up, raced twice in a row and drove home on Sunday.

When you’re inside an old car, you think ‘Oh, it’s going to break down’ but actually I had no problems. With racing, it’s a rollercoaster! The thrill you get when you go in the pairing lane near the burnout box and you’re actually putting your foot down – now, because of that, I’m signed up with UK Nostalgia Superstock, which is the leading UK Muscle Car in the sixties and seventies class. It’s Bracket racing, so you don’t need thousands to do well. My car signed up with them and next year it will be running with them at all of the lifestyle events; that’s more shows than racing!

I don’t think many people understand Drag Racing. They just see the straight line. Once you get the community, it’s the nicest place to be. For example, the people I raced told me how to upgrade my car and what bits to go for. They said if it breaks down, they’ve got the bits to help me fix it. It’s an amazing community! I think that’s what keeps me going: it’s not a rivalry with someone and you’re all doing it for fun. 

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So, with drag racing in mind, what has been your most unforgettable moment associated with your passion for classic cars?

My most unforgettable moment was actually the moment my car was delivered. When the guy drove it onto the drive, it was realising that I’d done it, I’d actually bought the one car I had always wanted. It’s just the most amazing moment. I remember when my mum looked outside and she cried because it was one of those amazing things that don’t happen a lot. 

What’s your view on restoring classic muscle cars like your Mustang? Have you done anything to yours and how far can a restored car still be considered a ‘classic’?

Well, I think keeping them maintained is essential. With mine, I swapped some bits: I had a new aluminium radiator put in, it was originally a 2-barrel iron intake and I put an aluminium one in and put a 4-barrel on it. I think maintenance-wise, it’s very much having to modernise to keep them going. They’re lovely all raw but you have to do things to keep them like you have to harden the valve to get fuel in. 

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I think little things like that, I agree with, though I’m very old-school with modifications. If it’s an old street machine where the rear is jacked up a little, it looks like that Eleanor car, where I think I draw my line. I have quite a controversial opinion on the ‘Eleanors’—what I don’t like is when people are chopping up Coupes to make these Eleanors and stripping them to the point where they’re not the car they were. 

So, I think restorations are brilliant because it’s keeping the car on the road and it’s keeping it for more people to see, but when you start seeing ones that have been chopped up to the point where they are not what they were, personally I wouldn’t walk towards one that had 5 glass bits on it if it stood next to a classic that looks near-factory condition.

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Eleanors are quite a famous car to pick a fight with! Is that your opinion as a racer or as a classic Mustang fan?

I’m speaking as a big Mustang fan. I think my problem was that they look – well, as a child I thought they were awesome – but what grinds me now is the fact that people see it and go “Oh, that’s the Shelby GT500” when it’s still got a small-block in it like a 428. It’s things like that that bug me a little.

When I see Eleanors, I think back to the ones Carroll Shelby did, where they had the police interceptors with the big blocks in them and they had the 4 speeds, which is how he designed them. Then this one, for me personally, just doesn’t look as good as the original Shelbys. I wouldn’t say no to one but it’s a personal thing, I just prefer the look of the original sixties Shelby Mustangs.

What advice would you give to other classic car owners in the industry?

I think with the classic community, everyone helps each other and my advice would be to just have fun with them—that’s what I always say to people if they have got an old car. Say I’m going to do this road trip and have fun with it because they’re there to put a smile on your face and enjoy and something to look forward to on a weekend. 

When someone comes over, I love talking to people and showing them my car, especially if they’ve got one as well. So, as a classic car owner, I’d say just keep them going and add some personality to it as well! Add little touches about yourself that just make it slightly different and that you like. It’s your car, not anyone else’s.

Some car owners seem to have witnessed the fact that classic cars seem to take on their owner’s personality or somehow develop their own; would you agree with that?

I would say that’s 100%. Speaking from my car’s perspective, as soon as it came into the drive my number plate is FEY 313D, so it instantly got a name and it got a personality because of that. It’s like at my work, people don’t know my name but they know me because of my car. I think Mustangs are filled with character so I would agree with that statement. 

What I would say to people my age who want to go out for not just Mustangs, but any classic, is to just put your money away and just go for it. Not only is it great fun having your dream car but it is also a fantastic investment. 

With mine, I could have already made £10,000 in a year from what I paid for it, and that’s just one year. So don’t listen to people who say ‘it’s only a waste of money, get a mortgage’. instead, go out and buy one because not only do you have something fun, but you also have an investment that will make you money in the future if you ever have to sell it. 

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Speaking of money – what financing advice would you give to other young people who have dreams of owning a car like that?

Well with me, it took me three years to save the money that I paid for that and that was with payments for financing my first car. Also, go through just your everyday expenses. I’d say if you can pay for it, put your money away, transfer the money into your savings and don’t touch it. But if you’re in a different situation and can have a loan from your parents’ bank, if you know what you want and if you can pay for it over time, keep stashing the money away so that you can buy your dream car!

Thank you for joining us on Muscle Car UK, Charlie. Enjoy your Mustang when you get it back in the spring!

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