Veterans and Vehicle Enthusiasts Rally Round to Restore 95-Year-Old American War Hero’s 1967 Mustang

1967 Ford Mustang (stock photo). Source: dave_7 / Wikipedia / CC BY 2.0
1967 Ford Mustang (stock photo). Source: dave_7 / Wikipedia / CC BY 2.0

Ladies, we are told, bond with their cats, men are more likely to be crazy about their sport, but the real love of some men’s lives is often their CAR! Harry Donovan is such a man – and his car is a 1967 Mustang.

Harry Donovan, a 95-year-old WWII veteran, had saved nearly $10,000 which he trustingly handed over to a supposed private restorer, who had convinced him that he would bring back his lovely old 1967 Mustang – as good as new. However, it seems Harry was actually ripped off by ‘a scammer,’ for the restoration never took place.

Instead of having a beautiful, working vintage car, Harry Donovan found that the money had been spent, but his Mustang was in a far worse state than before the ‘work’ began. In fact, his beautiful Mustang had been stripped, with various major parts such as the engine, the transmission, a bumper, the hood, together with other odd parts all having been removed and – we must assume – stolen and sold! What a shock it was to him to find the Mustang, purchased for his wife almost 50 years before, in this shocking state.

Very fortunately for Harry, this sad tale of woe was published in the IndyStar resulting in a number of very supportive persons offering their help in order to rectify this disaster.

Ken Mosier, who is the owner of a restoration shop (The Finer Details) and who, for 30 odd years, has been restoring show-quality cars, offered to help Harry after reading the sad story. He used his veteran connections to secure substantial donations from some American Legion Posts and Sons of the Legion groups. He decided to display Harry’s car – in the dreadful state in which it had been left – at a car show in Danville, with the result that many kind visitors dropped donations into the donation jar.

The project, under Mosier’s direction, may receive yet a further boost from some car publications that showed interest in interviewing him as well as Harry at the 40th-anniversary celebration of the Mustang Club of America, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Mosier has been reaching out to suppliers and other car restoring shops and professionals that he knows, in the hopes that they will donate materials or sell them at a reduced cost. Several of his workers are willing to donate after-hours time as well as weekend time to the restoration of this 1967 vintage piece! Mosier is determined that the car will indeed be restored – and this time, in the right way. With all the input, the support and the donation of time, spare parts, expertise and cash from the “car guys,”  the veterans’ organizations and many other ordinary persons, this restoration project is well on its way.

So, it was just after Harry Donovan had turned 95 years of age that he watched as a pick-up truck pulled off from his Indianapolis garage, pulling a trailer which was carrying his precious car. The desecrated 1967 Mustang was being taken to be restored properly. Harry felt as if he had received a really wonderful ‘late’ birthday present, for he had previously lost all hope of ever seeing his dream of restoring the vehicle come true – in his lifetime.

Meanwhile, what of the scammer? Well – the Hamilton County prosecutor has asked a detective to look into the case of the person who spent Harry’s money, stripped the Mustang of all those valuable parts and then dumped the car. Previous to the newspaper report, though, Harry Donovan had not had any luck getting the police to investigate the case.

When his family, in desperation and frustration, reached out to the IndyStar Call for Action, looking for help, things started to happen. The chief deputy prosecutor has meanwhile reported that while the investigation is still ongoing, the hope is that it is nearing its completion.

Harry, an Air Force pilot who flew many missions during World War II, no longer drives, even though he still has a driver’s license. He feels that he would rather give his grandson, Harry Donovan IV, the ‘honour’ of taking him for his ‘maiden voyage’ drive in the Mustang after it is restored.

The family has been touched by the response of perfect strangers and is planning to send some of the donated money, which are in excess of the costs, to service organizations for veterans. The family has also undertaken, in the event of the car being sold, to give the money donated for the restoration of this beautiful Mustang, to various veteran groups. Harry gets quite emotional when he thinks about how so many strangers have and still are coming forward to help after learning of his plight.

If all goes according to plan, Harry Donovan will get his ‘maiden voyage’ in his beautifully restored 1967 Mustang in approximately six months time.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE