You may have seen this viral video making the rounds recently. It’s a classic feel-good story: a man is reunited with his Ford Mustang thanks to his resourceful family and the internet, many years after he had originally sold the car.
Since we know that our community loves the Ford Mustang, Ford Social dug deeper, we talked to Rick and Michael Lookebill to get the story behind the story.
First, you should know that this 1972 Mustang Mach 1 was not just one of Rick’s cars; it was the first car he ever purchased. Second, he didn’t decide to sell it. He had used the car as collateral on a business loan, and when the business closed, the car was sold with it.
“When my dad had to forfeit the car back in 1989, we really had no idea why since we were so young,” said Michael, the son who posted the video on YouTube. “Over the years, as we realized the enormity of what happened. I think we had an unspoken agreement that if it were ever possible for us to locate it and get it back that we would do it in a heartbeat.”
But time passed, and the car had disappeared. Rick heard that it had been sold to an out-of-state buyer. In the days before the internet, that was about as gone as a car could be. But fate intervened, bringing him back together with his Mustang again briefly in 1999.
Driving through the town of Clinton, Illinois, Rick saw the car sitting in a repair shop. He knew it was his because of the distinctive black pinstriping which had been done by hand at a car show years before.
“My wife wrote a note that she left on the door, saying to call us if the owner was interested in selling it,” Rick said. “But we never heard anything from them, so we just kind of lost any hope of ever seeing it again.”
More years went by, and life went on. Michael’s older brother, Cory, spent some time looking for the car online, but with little luck. Eventually, he stopped his search. But then the car came up as a topic of conversation at a family cookout, and Michael asked his father for the car’s VIN, which Rick happened to have on an old factory warranty card.
With the VIN in hand, Michael was able to locate the Mustang online in 15 minutes.
“I couldn’t really tell anyone at 2:30 a.m. when I found the car,” Michael said. “But I knew instantly from the photos from the eBay auction that it was the car, because nothing had changed on the exterior. I called my brother the next morning when I knew he was awake, and we started the wheels turning and asking ‘What if?’”
The four siblings worked together to purchase the car and arranged for it to be transported to Indiana from Florida. The car arrived the day before a family cookout, and the resulting moment has captured nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube.
“I was in shock, it was like something out of a time machine,” Rick said. “I didn’t know anything about it, my wife didn’t know anything about it, until it was sitting there. It was a pretty wild day.”
The entire experience brought the family closer, and showed how a first car or a special car (or both) leaves an impression that can last a lifetime.
“We came together, two brother and two sisters, and we did this because of all that he’s taught us and all that he’s done for us,” Michael said. “Family is more important than anything we could ever have, and families take care of each other. When you have love and respect in a family, your dreams can come true together. That’s what this was all about: making his dreams come true.”
Now that he has his first car back, Rick has enjoyed taking his grandkids for a few rides, but the Mustang needs a bit of work done to get it into top shape. Despite only travelling an additional 21,000 miles in the 24 years it was gone, there is a bit of rust on the top, and the brakes and shocks need to be tuned up. But now that it’s his again, Rick is looking forward to restoring it.
“It runs excellent; it’ll go down the road real well,” he said. “I have some work to do on it, but I have time to fix it, because it’s never leaving again.”
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