Get Shorty

Get Shorty

A one-off short-wheelbase Ford Mustang may not be the most desirable collectors’ item in the world, but for Bill Snyder of Hudson, Ohio, it’s been his pride and joy for the last 46 years.

The “shorty” Mustang, as it is often called, was designed by Vince Gardner and built in 1964 for a traveling custom show.

“I saw the shorty Mustang during one of the stops of that traveling car show and decided I had to have one,” said Snyder. “I told a Ford rep I wanted to buy a two-seat Mustang to go along with my then 10-year-old Corvette, but he said it was a one-off that they were never going to build.”

When the tour where Snyder had seen the shorty ended, the car, which was rejected for production, was set to meet the same fate as most such cars – the crusher. Not wanting to see this unique Mustang destroyed, Gardner stashed it away in a nearby warehouse.

Several months later, after Ford reported it stolen and received an insurance payout, the warehouse owner discovered the car. Since Gardner had apparently not paid any rent, the insurance company that paid out the claim took possession of the car and later sold it to one of its executives.

Four years after he first saw the shorty Mustang at the car show, Snyder spotted it once again, this time listed in the for sale section of Hemming’s Motor News.

Over time, the original auto show lacquer finish cracked and the car was sprayed with body primer as Snyder accumulated about 15,000 miles on the car. Before it went on the show circuit in 1964, Ford engineers installed a special engine. The original 260 cubic-inch V8 that was available in Mustang was bored out to 302 cubic-inches and a trio of two-barrel carburetors were installed, making this effectively a prototype for one of the most beloved engine configurations in Mustang history.

When Snyder decided to restore the car several years ago, his wife found some of the original color under the hood and worked with a paint supplier to match it exactly. Since it was a concept car, the original builders had used Plexiglass for the quarter windows and backlight rather than cutting custom glass. Despite being heavily fogged after nearly 50 years, the restorers were able to buff the windows back to their original clarity.

Looking as good as or better than it did in 1964, the one-of-a-kind, two-seat shorty Mustang made its debut at the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida. This year, Snyder has been taking it to a variety of events celebrating 50 years of Mustang.


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