There’s some things that you just don’t want to happen when you’re restoring a classic. It’s your pride and joy and most of the time you love it more than your own mother.
This week it came to light that the founder of Customfastbackca.com and all round great bloke, David Ambler lost his mustang in a tragic fire. Some of you may know him from his time with Unique Performance. On many occasions David helped me with my orders and it was a breeze for him to organise parts to Australia.
Below are his own words on his loss and the aftermath and also why he left Unique Performance.
At the age of 15 I spawned my first true love affair, the Ford Mustang. A 1964 ½ Cherry Red Mustang that I spotted a local car show would soon be mine. As this enthusiasm grew, I channeled my inspiration for this vehicle to a 1991 Mustang GT, then a 1996 Supercharged Saleen Mustang and then to my favorite of all, a 1967 Shelby GT500 clone named “Eleanor”. In July 2001 I bought a project 1967 Ford Mustang from Kamloops, British Columbia hoping to build the car that inspired the movie “Gone in Sixty Seconds”. Little did I know I was about to start a six year love affair that would entail starting a website that now has over 1,000,000 hits, moving to Dallas, Texas to work for Unique Performance who shares the same passionate pulse as I and spending more money in this creation than my grandmother’s first house. Countless hours were spent underneath my creation with a best friend scraping dirt and grime and wrenching, I started a fire while trying to weld a bracket onto the firewall, I ordered subscription after subscription of car magazine trying to perfect this dream of mine and I even got a tattoo on my thigh that says “Eleanor” (just kidding). All this momentum to my shock would be halted Friday February 2, 2007 by a scorching blaze. The next day I went to see the remains of what was once the culmination of years of hard work and joy. The next day I went to see the building that used to shelter my creation, burned to the ground.
It’s funny, my initial reaction was shock and disappointment. Then brief anger; especially when I realized I had just cancelled my insurance just 2 months before because the insurance company had haggled me about the VIN number. I suddenly realized however that I was sublimely overjoyed. The epiphany, like you see in some Hollywood tales, was that I was happy to know that the call I received was not to inform me of the death of my baby brother, or that my Dad had a heart attack or any other countless irreplaceable things in my life that I cherish so much. That same weekend I rested calmly in the absence of regret, sadness, anger or shame. I sat humbled, but not by heartbreak. Sad only for my dear Mechanic friend Jerry who was building my car in his new shop that contained every tool he had been accumulating his whole life. Sad that his livelihood had been stripped in just five minutes.
Misfortune, however, was met with hope. Jerry’s friends reached out. Jerry’s friend convinced the shop where he works to let Jerry finish some work he planned to complete in his own shop. Jerry’s other friends also vowed to establish a benefit to help resurrect the tools and equipment lost in the fire. So while Jerry still sits stunned, saddened and sorry for my loss, he has been lifted by the grace of his friends and family.
So what about the burned and decrepit shell you see in the pictures? Surely I can’t bear both financially and psychologically to start from ground zero. Well there is even more good fortune. Doug Hasty, the man who brought me to Texas to share this mutual passion, called me that next day and offered to help get my project back on its feet. Doug offered on behalf of Unique Performance to send a new shell I’ll provide back through sheetmetal and bodywork and to help rebuild. A truly selfless offer that sets me even more in shock than I was that day.
Despite this tremendous offer, another opportunity showed its face. A Super Snake, built by Unique Performance, showed up at a government auction in South Texas. To make a long story short I picked up this Snake for myself at a steal of a price. My intention then and now is to run through this 175 mile car and ready it for sale, turning a profit. This profit would then allow me to take on whatever endeavor I so choose in the near future. The Snake by the way is grey w/ black stripes.
Now on to my life and why I left Unique Performance. During my time at University I majored in Philosophy, Pre-Law emphasis. Immediately after graduation I began my application process to Law Schools around the country. In this interim period is when Doug Hasty offered me the job in Texas at Unique Performance, which I took with some reservation given my plans, but mostly with open arms. It was never my intention to make my life in Texas permanent and so I sit here again today readying myself again for Law School. Although I believe that action is guided always by more than one reason, I can honestly say that my absence at Unique is a blessing only to my aspiration to become a lawyer.
I still have tremendous loyalty to Unique Performance and the people who make that company such an exemplar of thriving passion. Many of the posts I see are wildly speculatory. I will not clear up every post in all the threads, but I will say many of your conspiracy theories are unfounded. One clear thing you have all found through observation and experience is the lack of help in the parts department. The focus of Unique Performance is and will always be the production of vehicle. I will say that Ryan Howard is working very hard to fill all the orders. Please be patient with him as he has many other responsibilities to accomplish besides parts orders. I will say that my intentions and Ryan’s were (Ryan’s still are) to help all the incoming calls. I remember when the part’s department was up in running in full gear I would get about 60-70 voicemails a day. It would literally take my days just to answer all of one days calls and so I was always behind. Things are not that crazy there now (thank the Lord!), but Ryan was behind when I left.
If technical questions arise, post them on the board to my attention and I will try to answer them all. Just know that I don’t check the board that often and that my response may take time. Thanks for reading guys.
I wish David all the best in the future and hope he gets back on his feet with his project soon enough.