For these Long Islanders, a Mustang's more than a car
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For a certain kind of Long Island driver, a car is more than a way to get from here to there, and a Ford Mustang is much more than a car.
On Sunday at Levittown Ford Dealership, members of the Mustang & Shelby Club of Long Island showed off their buffed-up versions of the venerable Ford line as hundreds more dedicated followers got a glimpse of one of Detroit's enduring successes.
Some of the older models, dating to 1965, appeared perfectly preserved, such as Mike Basile's maroon fastback he bought new for $2,700 in 1967. Basile said he paid for it with money saved from years of afternoon labor in a Brooklyn bakery.
"I had my pop cosign for me," said Basile, 64, as he stood next to the shining fastback.
Peter Piciulo, 44, of Huntington rebuilt his 1978 Mustang Cobra II from little more than rubber and rust after finding it decomposing in a Merrick driveway in 2009 and buying it.
He rebuilt it with period parts, down to the vinyl and cloth upholstery sourced from an Oklahoma man he found on the Web.
Some of the cars are so cherished that their owners don't let them out of the garage from November to April, because of the road salt, or when it rains, out of fear for their paint jobs. Their owners kept thick photo albums like baby books in the trunk, except instead of babies they showed engine blocks at different stages of assembly.
Men walked around the lot taking their own pictures of engines. For this to make sense, "You got to love cars," said Elliott Weiner of Smithtown.
Weiner owns a near-exact replica of the Mustang Steve McQueen drove at high speeds through the streets of San Francisco in the movie "Bullitt." He has a license plate that reads BULITPRF and a specially made jacket similar to what McQueen wore in the movie. He loves the movie and sometimes re-watches the famous chase scene, turning the volume up so loud that his girlfriend can hear from a different floor of the house. "You're watching that again?" he said she usually asks.
One of the few women showing a Mustang Sunday morning was Donna Lynn, 50, of Coram. She owns and races her 2008 model, modified with a pink racing stripe and an air intake valve for more horsepower.
She was thinking of upgrading to something new, she said, and might pass along her present vehicle to her stepdaughter, Victoria Saladino, 14.
It seemed improbable that some of her fellow club members would even contemplate an act of such generosity."I dated in this car, got married in this car, took my son home in this car," Basile said.