When Harry Donovan handed the keys to his late wife Marie’s 1967 Ford Mustang to a man he hired back in 2009, he envisioned his grandchildren taking a Sunday cruise in the soon-to-be-restored car.
But two years and $8,000 later, the man – and the Mustang – vanished.
It took several months to find the vehicle, which had been stripped of its engine, transmission, hood and other parts.
Donovan thought his dream of seeing his grandchildren drive the car was gone until his story was reported by the Indianapolis Star years after the car was recovered.
The saga pulled at many people’s heartstrings and donations started to pour in via a GoFundMe page.
Shops also took notice. After considering several offers, Donovan and his family decided to go with The Finer Details — a restoration shop in Danville, Indiana — that said it would bring the car back to life.
The original plan was to repaint the car and replace the missing parts. But after some thinking, owner Ken Mosier knew that wasn’t enough.
“Our name is The Finer Details and we couldn’t just do that,” Mosier told the Star. “It’s brand new — every piece.”
The car received some upgrades, including a V8 engine. It was originally equipped with a V6.
It was estimated that the cost to restore the cherry-red ride was about $75,000. Donovan paid nothing, thanks to $23,000 in online donations, gifts from corporations and numerous volunteers.
It took about 1,500 hours to get the car gleaming anew.
The man who stole the car was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay Donovan $15,000 in fines, all of which he planned to donate to veterans groups.
Donovan was given the keys to the car last month. He was able to inspect the car and fire up the engine during a private ceremony.
“This is for Marie,” he said.