Long Shots: What Do Water Heaters, Lawn Mowers and Classic Mustangs Have In Common?


So this olelongrooffan is comfortably settled into my new job and my old, new hometown here in Naples, Florida, otherwise known to me as FantasyLand (and all is well, thanks for asking). As the shoes on my longerroof are nearly seven years old, that’s right seven years old, and are weather cracked, nearly bald, and each of them possesses a screw gathered from some construction jobsite or another, I realized it was time to replace those old Michelins. So after shopping around a bit, I headed out to a locally owned tire supplier to switch up those French derived shoes to a set of Falkens.

While all this was going on, this olelongrooffan was wandering around and, in my typical manner, stumbled upon something I just had to share with my fellow Hoons. Feel free to make the jump to see what this “dead weight” longrooffan found to share.


Yes, my fellow Hoons, it is a 1968 Mustang GT California Special, one of just 4,118 made. (This olelongrooffan is not gonna split hairs and mention the 2007 and on versions of this classic.)  The ’68 will always be the only California Special for this olelongrooffan.  Yeah, much like the legendary Shelby of this year, the rear deck lid, spoiler and spoiler ends were crafted of fiberglass, or fibreglass should that be your persuasion. And note, the taillights seen above were first available on the 1965 Thunderbird, although these here seen taillights are non sequential. 


And these fiberglass side scoops, like all the fiberglass bits on this Special, were manufactured by the same company, A.O. Smith. These were installed on the Specials in the Shelby section of the Dearborn Ford assembly plant.

Now at about this time, this olelongrooffan can hear my fellow Hoons screaming, “What the h*ll does a classic Mustang have to do with water heaters and lawn mowers?”


Well, it’s like this. Way back in the day, well, even before that, in the late 1800’s, A.O. Smith began manufacturing bicycle frames, most famously, the front fork. In the early 19 double aughts, they started supplying frames for Cadillacs, and did so for some 90 years. In 1906, Henry Ford placed an order for 10,000 automobile frames from the very same company.  And in 1915, A.O. Smith began producing a small buggy named the Smith Flyer.


Now if my fellow Hoons decided to follow that link, you will have discovered that in 1919, the A.O. Smith company sold the rights to the construction of that buckboard buggy to a small, somewhat insignificant company otherwise known as Briggs and Stratton. I would suspect that if my fellow Hoons stop reading this for just a moment (Hey, never stop reading the Hooniverse) and peer over to the lawn mower resting in your mancave you will note that it is possessing a Briggs and Stratton engine. I can see my Toro from here and it does. Even my last mower, a John Deere ride along, possessed one. Although some of my fellow Hoons may be sporting Hondas these days.


“California Made It Happen.”

According to legend, the Director of Ford sales in 1968 for the southern region of California wanted a distinct Mustang to set itself aside from the other pony cars offered for the 68 model year and convinced Lee Iaccoca to develop the California Special. I spoke to my multiple Shelby owning buddy, TheKenMan, this evening about this Special and he mentioned there were a bunch of leftover fiberglass Shelby parts and they made their way onto these California Specials. 


The interior of this California Special was as clean as it could be and the odo read 95,700 miles. That sleek automatic transmission shift stick was nearly ubiquitous on every Ford offering in the mid 60’s, including the four wheel selection lever on TheGoodAttorney’s ’66 Bronco. I do have this to say about that though, that weaved steering wheel wrapper appeared to have more use than any other part of the interior of this Classic Stang.


And as it seems that with every vehicle I check out, this oldlongrooffan could not help but to notice something unique about it. In this case it is the seatbelt resting place in the console of this 1968 Ford Mustang GT California Special. 


And, oh yeah, the water heater connection? The very same fiberglass manufacturing firm that supplied bits and pieces to this California Special, as well as the bodies for the same vintage Corvetttes? They are now the world’s largest manufacturer of residential water heaters. This olelongrooffan just checked and there is one in the place I now call home.

Yeah my fellow Hoons, it is a blast to see where a Long Shot sighting leads this olelongrooffan. Those of you who are interested, thanks for following along with my ramblings. I ain’t gonna stop til the The Chief Blooger takes away my keys to the Hooniverse vault. 

Images Copyright Hooniverse 2014/longrooffan


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