WHITE LAKE — For one Bladen County resident, the Mustang is a fixture in his stable of collectible automobiles.
“I grew up with them,” said Perry Merrit of the iconic muscle cars.
The second car he ever owned, his first was Fairlane given to him by his father, was a Mustang and he now owns four — a 1967 Fastback, a 1970 Boss 302, a 2008 Carroll Shelby Mustang, and a 2006 Mustang GT convertible.
The Boss and the Fastback received the royal treatment from Merritt.
“The whole body has been completely redone. The motors have been rebuilt to race specifications,” said Merritt of the Boss and the Fastback. The Boss 302 began its life as a race car.
“Bud Moore popularized the Boss 302 in the TransAm series. He cleaned house with it,” said Merritt.
According to Merritt, the 1967 Fastback was the first year Ford put a larger motor in the cars.
“1967 was the first year of the ‘Big Block’ engine,” said Merritt.
His 2008 Caroll Shelby Mustang is one of only 2,000 made that year — No. 1,926 to be exact. Merritt shared how the Shelby Mustang became an addition to his collection.
“I always liked Shelby cars and I went to the Ford dealership in Raleigh to get a Jack Rousch Mustang and ended up with this one. It will hold its value more than the Jack Rousch Mustang will,” said Merritt. “Carroll Shelby is the one in my book who brought the Mustang to where it is today.”
He related how in 1966, Sheby started racing and he preferred a Mustang to the other cars available. Merritt said Shelby went overseas and raced and was successful with his Mustangs to the chagrin of his competitors of the time.
Merritt added that actor Steve McQueen helped to popularize the Mustang Fastback in the movie “Bullit.” In the movie McQueen drove a 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 Fastback in the color Highland Green, according to the Mustang Source.
Merritt smiled slowly and proclaimed himself to be “old school” when it comes to his collection and his preference of cars.
He also shared a bit about his car— a Fairlane.
“It was the first automobile I had. It was what my daddy bought me after high school,” said Merritt.
He said shortly afterwards, he let the Fairlane go in favor of his first Mustang. Meritt is now lovingly restoring a Fairlane from the same model year as his first car.
He also has a vast collection of Ford and Mustang related memorabelia as well as some NASCAR collectibles.
“I’ve got quite a collection,” said Merritt with a chuckle.
Merritt plans to share his knowledge and at least one of his Mustangs at the Cruise In at the White Lake Water Festivla on Friday evening.
Classic Cruisers Car Club
The Classic Cruisers Car Club sponsors the Made in the Shade Car Show which is quite popular with car enthusiasts from all over.
Club member Roger Teachey said that they get numerous Mustang entries from several states each year.
“We usually get a lot of Mustangs. I’m guessing probably 30 to 35 entries,” said Teachey.
The club boasts at least four members who have at least one Mustang in their stable of classic cars.