GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback Film Shoot
When you locate the hub of American muscle and pony cars, the lore of Detroit iron, and the almighty yawp of high-performance V8s, a city near France’s border with Germany called Strasbourg probably doesn’t make the list. One will certainly count more Citroëns than Fords on the city’s streets. Get lucky with your timing though and you might find Jacques Jenn’s Mustang instead.
Long before the HiPo Ford was in his garage though, Jacques was just a French youth with American dreams. He wasn’t chasing the full gamut of capitalistic treasure though, just a specific piece of it: owning an automobile. No big Buick bomb nor malaise-era sadcompact would cut it though. Jacques needed a Mustang.
Grown up and with a son of his own now, the pull of these cars brought Jacques to the point of looking for another to add to his collection in 2012. He was finding little luck in his searches for the right restoration candidate until an acquaintance called with news that he’d just found a Fastback that he could buy, a ’68 GT, just like from the film Bullitt. Unlike McQueen’s hero car in that famous chase scene though, this example wasn’t looking all that jump-worthy at the time. Jacques wrestled with the decision for a while but we already know which way that went don’t we? He bought it in Chicago, had it loaded up and shipped to France and then to Strasbourg where he got to work, spending two days a week in the garage for hours on end before and after work for a period of two years.
Restoring a car doesn’t just mean understanding how it was put together the first time, it also means understanding why it deserves to put back together so many years after the fact. in this sense Jacques’ sentiment that those doing this kind of work are some of the most impactful artisans in the automotive world, whether or not people recognize it. Not only do they preserve and innovate techniques for the restoration work itself, they are keeping history together for the next wave of kids that doesn’t find particular interest in the contemporary options on the road today. On the other hand, if the candidate for restoration doesn’t really require such extensive work you can say that doing so would be to remove history—it just depends on the situation. In this one, the car came in pieces and most with only memories of paint. Doubtful much was lost in the act of reassembly that wasn’t consumed by rusty or parts poachers many years ago.
Though his then-girlfriend (she’s now his wife, and the two were married in the Mustang which had been finished mere days beforehand) was supportive of his decision to spend the time necessary to do the job well, the project wasn’t just Jacques holed up in the garage by his lonesome. His son Philippe would join him on Saturday mornings to simultaneously lend a hand and learn about the processes that he was playing a role in as the Mustang was stripped and reborn hour by hour and month by month. Classic ‘Stangs with straight metal bodies and nice options are worth insuring beyond the minimums, but there are some investments with immeasurable returns.
Rebuilding the fastback allowed Jacque and Philippe to connect over a project more meaningful than assigned homework, and the car that emerged from the garage did so to the genuine smiles of his family, gaining instant advantage over those that receive eye-rolls aimed at “Dad’s toy” finally being finished. Doing something that you love with the support of those that you love even more—how can you beat that?
The first “joyride” as Jacques calls it, the first voyage from private garage to public motorway was a chance to share the car with even more people than those who’d been there for the years of restoration work, and though he certainly didn’t buy and build the Mustang for the attention of others are there any among us who don’t enjoy it when a stranger gives us a smile or a nod? A vintage Fastback in restored condition is rare enough. Without oversized modern wheels even more so. Far from home, across the Atlantic and living in France 50 years after it was born in America, the Ford attracts its share of attention and questions. Jacques is happy to answer them though, for the enthusiastic faces are just another reward reaped from the hard work.