Mustang car owners gather in Billings
Grime and grease are conspicuously absent. Rubber hosing looks a bouncy brand-new. Batteries bear no signs of corrosion. And, never mind the fact that the car may be from 1993, the interior still has that new-car smell.
"I've always been a car nut. Even when I was in high school, I had Fords and Mercurys," said the 69-year-old Monson. "Back in those days, we'd customize them, we'd lower them and soup them up and drive them around weekend nights."
Monson no longer customizes vehicles much, but he's been collecting Ford Mustangs for more than four decades, some times owning as many as six at once. Now the retired Ford Motor Co. manager and dealership employee has three Mustangs, which will be on display this weekend with more than 400 other specialty vehicles as part of what is known as the International Mustang Meet.
The meet, which is now in its 30th year, brings together six American and seven Canadian Mustang clubs at a different location each Labor Day for a car show and other events.
"We won't have it again for 13 more years," said Sandy Mueller, secretary for the Yellowstone Valley Mustang and Special Interest Ford Club.
The last Mustang Meet in Billings was in 1989.
"A lot of people have been to all 30 of the car shows," Mueller said. "So our first-night social will be kind of like a class reunion."
Back in the early '80s when Monson helped start up the Yellowstone club, he owned three Ford Mustang Mach 1s, a popular muscle car that was made between 1969 and 1979.
Now he owns three newer Mustang models: a silver 1992 GT coupe, a black 1993 GT convertible with a sparkling white-leather interior and a prized white 1995 SVT Cobra. The Cobra, which is one of just over 4,000 made, can reportedly go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds.
"It's got tremendous power. I've let my youngest son drive it, but my wife never has never wanted to," Monson said.
Event organizers are expecting between 400 and 500 Mustangs and special interest Fords, such as Torinos and Model Ts, to roll through town for the event.
"We really want spectators to come because it makes the show exciting," Mueller said.
In addition to the cars, the Mustang Meet is expected to bring more than 800 visitors to Billings, in some cases from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta.