By Donald Wittkowski
When Ron Melvin paid $1,000 for a 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1, what he essentially bought was a bunch of car parts instead of a whole car.
But unlike all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men in the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, Melvin was able to put his Mustang back together again.
“When I brought it home, it was in pieces,” Melvin recalled. “It took two years to restore it. It was a hard two years. It was steady work.”
The bright red Mustang’s striking looks attracted a steady stream of picture-taking admirers Saturday when it was parked on the Boardwalk as part of Ocean City’s 42nd annual Street Rod Run of classic cars.
“I wish I had a dollar for every picture that was ever taken of this car. I would probably get my money back,” Melvin said, smiling.
Restoration costs were $10,000. But Melvin now has a car far more valuable than his total $11,000 investment to buy and refurbish the muscle car.
“I paid $1,000 for it. I think I did OK,” he said.
Melvin, who lives in Hilltown, Pa., and has a summer vacation home in Tuckerton, Ocean County, was hoping his Mustang would be recognized by the judges Saturday. Last year, it was one of the show winners.
Organizers said the Street Rod Run attracted 95 vintage cars from 1986 and earlier. Many were from the 1930s and 1940s. The cars were met with approving smiles and waves from spectators as they paraded up the Boardwalk. They began the day on display on the grounds of the Ocean City Tabernacle at Fifth Street and Wesley Avenue.
One spectator, 83-year-old Adrian Crump, of Hackensack, was attracted to a 1955 Chevy that took him back to the days of his youth.
“Does it ever,” Crump exclaimed.
The charcoal-colored Chevy, accented with sporty red and gray interior, was made about the same time Crump was part of the auto industry. In 1956, he worked at a General Motors Corp. assembly plant in California that built Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs.
“I was on the assembly line. I put together the car bodies and the shafts,” Crump said.
Cars weren’t the only vehicles that had a lot of curb appeal at Saturday’s show. A red 1934 Ford pickup owned by John Stine III, of Chester Springs, Pa., drew crowds of spectators.
Stine, 75, said the death of his brother, Lawrence, nearly 30 years ago inspired him to restore the truck. He painted it red because that was his brother’s favorite color. Stine’s oldest son, John IV, helped him with restoration work.
The meticulously refurbished truck was on exhibit at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pa., from 2013 to 2015, Stine said.
Although it is of mueum quality, the truck is still driven around by Stine and his wife, Joyce. It has 130,000 miles on the odometer.
“It’s very pleasant to drive. It gets a lot of attention,” Stine said.