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Do kids still fix up old cars before their 16th birthday? This Guelph teen did (6 photos)

Andrew Barker has been saving money for years to restore a 30-year-old Ford Mustang

A years-long project to restore a vintage Ford Mustang has paid off for a local teen, who recently took his first drive in the 30-year-old car after he turned 16 in June.

Andrew Barker purchased the 1990 Ford Mustang as-is where-is in January of 2018, about a year and a half before he would turn 16 and able to drive it. In that time, Andrew put in a new clutch, replaced the brakes, put in a new sound system, added a rear spoiler and did extensive body work.

He started saving money about three years ago, doing odd jobs, starting a lawn mowing buisness and fixing and flipping old electronics.

Between the purchase price of the used car and the money he has put into it, Andrew says he is still thousands of dollars ahead of what you would expect to pay for a 1990 Mustang in good working condition.

“The car has 89,000 kilometres on it and was owned by an older person, who didn’t drive it that much,” said Andrew. “They decided to buy a new car when they couldn’t drive it anymore.”

Andrew took an auto shop class at GCVI last year and plans to take it again in September. Teacher Dennis Ashley said it’s nice to see some teens getting back into the hobby of fixing up an old clunker into a ride they can be proud of.

“It seems to be a thing that is kind of coming back,” said Ashley. “They get hands-on experience and some of them learn they really like to work with their hands.”

“Just to have that know-how and be able to unwind with that hobby is great,” said Ashley.

The Mustang was kept in a neighbour’s garage over the winter months, when much of the work was done.

Asked how many hours he has put into the restoration, Andrew replied, “a lot.”

“Every spare moment we had we would go over and work on it because we had to take the whole front end off and we had to do stuff with the engine,” said Andrew. “There were dents all along the side of the car and my neighbour was the one who did the body work on it.”

Andrew also replaced the tail lights with ones more commonly found on the 1983 to 1986 version of the car.

“I liked the older tail lights, so I put them in,” said Andrew.

The interior is all original, except for the addition of a dash cam, a back-up camera and a pair of fuzzy dice.

The Mustang has a cassette tape deck and Andrew has been working away making mix tapes for his new ride, mostly tunes from the 70s and 80s.

His mother Leslie said sometimes it’s like Andrew is from another time.

“Andy has always been the kid from the 70s and 80s — even when he was younger he was the kid riding his bike around the neighbourhood like we all used to do,” said Leslie. 

“It’s certainly not a thing that you see many kids in this generation doing,” said Leslie of Andrew’s Mustang project.

She said Andrew and his father John saw Kansas last year and are going to see The Who in concert soon.

“And April Wine,” Andrew adds.

Leslie said the years Andrew has been working toward earning money for the car and the work he has put into it has been a positive experience for him.

“He has learned so much in the last year and a half, financially, budgeting, how much he needs to earn and what he needs to do in order to be able to work on that car and fix it up and buy the things he wants to buy for it,” she said.

“We let him learn the hard way too, because what you think is going to be a half hour job is never that easy,” said Leslie. “He learned what it meant to have the shop do one small piece and the amount of time he and our incredible neighbour spent helping him, it would have been five or six thousand dollars to have a body shop and a garage to do all of that work. It was a huge cost savings to do it all himself.”

Andrew’s father John said it has been a process — finding deals on Kijiji or driving all over Ontario looking for spare parts.

“We were going to the parts store and getting the last one of what we needed. One piece to the back brakes — one left across Canada. One pilot bearing for the transmission for the clutch to go in — one left across Canada,” said John. “There’s a whole round circle of education here that turned into something he can have a lot of fun with.”

John said it's sometimes difficult for him to think of a car from 1990 as being a 'classic car' even though it is about 30 years old.

John’s first car was a 1970 Dodge Coronet. And Leslie’s?

"A 1969 Ford Mustang. He comes by it naturally,” she quipped.