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|Not Found on eBay: Sonny and Cher's His and Hers 1966 Ford Mustangs|
|Written by Rich Truesdell|
|Thursday, 21 May 2009 08:56|
In doing the photo research for Jim Brennan's Italianate Chrysler series, we found out where the famous Sonny and Cher Mustangs landed after their recent sale this past February.
Over a decade ago, I moved to California. After leaving my position as editor of Car Audio and Electronics, I restarted my freelance writing career. Part of the process was visiting local shops, seeing what cars they were working on. In 1999, I visited Mustang Country in nearby Paramount and met the legendary Don Chambers. I asked him what Mustangs he was working on. Don, who at the time was in his sixties I believe, was very friendly. After giving me the rundown on his projects and those of some of his customers, he asked me if I would like to see part of his collection housed next door.
Naturally, I said yes. I thought he might have a couple of early first-generation Mustangs, but was shocked at what I saw. First was one of the 100,000-mile 1964 Mercury Comet Daytona endurance test cars in as-tested condition complete with the rear-seat-mounted wooden tool box. Right next to the Comet were the famous--or infamous depending upon your view of modified Mustangs--George Barris-modified his and hers 1966 Sonny and Cher Ford Mustangs.
I must admit that I had a tenuous connection to these cars, having built each way back in the sixties when they were released as 1/25th scale AMT model car kits. I was stunned, especially by the colors and accessorization. I learned from Don that the cars came from Ford's San Jose assembly line and had nearly identical VINs. Sonny's car was finished in Murano Gold Pearl, adorned with dark-brown side panels and with an orange-and-gold fade-away treatment over the wheel wells and grille openings. In contrast, Cher's Mustang featured a hot-pink pearl finish blended with candy-red, deep-red side panels and a matching fade-away treatment.
The cars were used for publicity purposes before going on to appear in Sonny and Cher's only film, the critical and box office failure "Good Times." Following the movie's wrap, the cars toured the car show circuit, including Ford's Custom Car Caravan, before they were returned for the use of the famous pop stars. At some point after that they were returned to George Barris. About 25 years ago, Don Chambers added them to his collection. Much to the delight of the Mustang community, Don brought the cars out occasionally over the years. One of the best-documented accounts of Don's enthusiasm for the cars was told by Sam Haymart for The Mustang News, a Mustang news and information website.
According to "Barris TV and Movie Cars" by George Barris with David Featherstone, both Mustangs were factory-equipped with powertrains consisting of the proven 289 cubic inch "small-block" V8 engine as well as a C-4 automatic transmission. Externally, both cars received radiused and flared wheel wells, dual simulated hood scoops, and flush-mounted and repositioned door handles. Frontal styling was highly modified with twin openings as well as rectangular headlights. This theme was duplicated at the rear, with a pair of wide Ford Thunderbird taillights, foreshadowing their ultimate use on the 1967-1968 Shelby Mustangs.
Unique Features of Sonny's Mustang
Sonny's Mustang features five-spoke Rader custom wheels. Both cars received 40 coats of lacquer paint for the exterior finish--a Barris trademark. The interiors of both cars are the epitome of sixties kitsch. Sonny's Mustang is upholstered with Bobcat fur and antique buff leather trimmed with rustic suede that looks as if it was taken from one of his outfits. The three-inch thick gold Mouton fur carpeting gives Sonny's Mustang a warm and fuzzy feeling. Sonny, who worked with the legendary music producer Phil Spector in addition to producing his and Cher's own recordings, could listen to demo tapes on the console-mounted "high fidelity" Medallion 8-Track player. If the speedometer is any indication, Sonny's Mustang has only covered 24,296 miles since new.
Unique Features of Cher's Car
Cher's Mustang featured wheels that displayed an intricate, multi-spoked pattern. Like Sonny's car, Cher's Mustang received 40 coats of lacquer paint for the exterior finish. The grille of Cher's Mustang displays a cross-pattern grille design that Barris might have acquired from a lighting supply store (see Sam Haymart's article). The color palette makes Cher's interior even more over-the-top, white Ermine fur and black antique Scottish leather upholstery, trimmed in hot-pink suede with the Mouton fur carpeting dyed in a hot pink hue. Unlike Sonny's Mustang, Cher could enjoy listening to the Top 40 hits of the day on her equally groovy Mecca 8-Track player. Cher's Mustang hasn't seen too much time on the street, as the odometer now reads just 19,077 miles, even less than Sonny's 'Stang.
Don passed away a few years back, and while I'm not really dialed into the classic Mustang community as I used to be, those I've spoken with tell me that Don was a great guy and that his spirit and enthusiasm are sorely missed.