When a man becomes a boy  

By Regina Villiers. Originally published July 28, 1993 in The Suburban Life, added January 14, 2015


Bill Meece looks over the engine of his 1966 Ford Mustang after grinding the valves and replacing the spark plugs.

Bill Meece looks over the engine of his 1966 Ford Mustang after grinding the valves and replacing the spark plugs.


If boys grow up and become men when they put away their toys, Bill Meece will never grow up.

His toy is a well-preserved, candy apple red, 1966 Ford Mustang.  It’s his pride and joy, the dream of his youth, and he intends never to put it away.

Owning a Mustang has been Bill’s dream since he first saw one.

“I’ve always been a Ford man,” he said, “and I liked the looks of that Mustang.”

Bill finally bought his Mustang in 1982 and fulfilled his dream.

He’s the second owner of the car.  He bought it from the original owner, Ben Butz of Deer Park, who had bought it for his wife, Lillian.

The car originally cost $2,500. Bill paid about $3000.

“Sonny and Cher’s matching ’66 Mustangs sold for $40,000 each,” Bill said.  “But I guess mine is worth five to 12 or 13 thousand dollars.”

But he harbors no thought of ever selling it.  It’s his dream, his toy, and he enjoys tinkering with it.

Bill enjoys working on cars, which is why he likes old cars.

“You can’t work on the new cars,” he said.  “You have to have technical equipment for them.  I drive old cars so I can work on them.”

He has a ’75 Chevy van with 128,999 miles on it that he drives to work.  He keeps it in running order all by himself.

Bill has been spending part of this summer working on his Mustang, doing a little work on the engine.  He took the head off and has ground the valves.  He also replaced the spark plugs.

The car has all its original parts, except for spark plugs.

Bill is a purist about cars.  He doesn’t believe in replacing all the old stuff on them with new.

He says he knows a man who has replaced nearly everything on his ’66 Mustang at a cost of $11,000.

“That isn’t an old car,” Bill said.  “It’s a new reproduction of an old car.”

That’s why he doesn’t show his car in the Madeira Classic Car Show.  They have no category for cars in original condition, he says.  He did show his car there one time, but he says he can’t compete with cars that have been all gussied up with new parts and equipment.

Bill’s Mustang is remarkably well kept and in almost pristine, original condition.  The lavish chrome adorning the entire car still sparkles and shines.  The original upholstery and mats are still bright and clean.

For the first seven years of its life, the car stayed in a garage and never experienced water on it except when washed.

The car now has 61,000 miles on it.  The engine is a 200 horsepower Sprint six-cylinder.

Though Bill is most protective of his car, he has allowed son, Mike, to drive it.  And he insists he would allow Ellen, his wife, to drive it.

“But she’s a bit disdainful of it,” he said, “because it has no air conditioning.”

Just to sit inside Bill’s old Mustang is an experience where “it ain’t no crime to go back in time.”  It makes you want to head for the drive-in to order a burger, fries and shake which the carhop would serve on a tray clipped to the car’s door.

Then you’d feel like zipping on over to the drive-in movie to see Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in “Beach Party.”

You expect to turn on the radio and hear Roy Orbison, Elvis or Buddy Holly.  The radio is strictly AM, before FM took over the airwaves.

By fall, Bill expects to have the engine all fine-tuned and purring.  Then he’s going to repaint the car, the same original candy apple red.  Then he plans to build a new garage for it.

So, he won’t be showing his prized toy at the Madeira Annual Classic Car Show Sunday Aug. 1.  He’ll just be tinkering all day with it at home.

He’s not saying he won’t be there in the future, “but I didn’t buy it to show,” he said.  “I bought it for myself because I always wanted one.”

Bill Meece will just never give it up.