Smashed Mustang Gets Second Chance

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For Ken Paul, owner of 202 Collision Inc. in New York since 1988, enjoying restored cars is a family thing. It’s not uncommon for every member of the family to take his newly restored Laser Red 2002 Mustang GT Convertible out for a spin during the week—New York weather permitting.

“The family loves the car. If I don’t take it out, my wife takes it out. If she doesn’t take it out, my son takes it out. And I’ve got one more in a couple of years that will be ready, too,” Paul says with a laugh.

Having a family that enjoys cars has made Paul’s restoration projects a labor of love.

“My son is like the apple that didn’t fall too far from the tree,” Paul says. “When he was 12, we were racing go-karts together, and now he’s doing his own little project on a 2002 Jeep that was a rollover here. He’s got the same bug I had when I was a kid.”

Paul found the 2002 Mustang for sale in 2011. It had a wrecked front end, and he jumped at the opportunity to fix it.

The car itself is one Paul is intimate with: He has worked on it periodically since it was about a year old back in 2003, with the original owner bringing it in for repair each year until it was wrecked. This was his chance to make it his own.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Ken Paul and his son share a passion for Mustangs, which Paul says made the work put into this 2002 GT that much more meaningful. Courtesy Ken Paul

Major replacements were made to the wrecked front end, including installation of Roush bumpers and a fiberglass hood.

The engine is the stock 4.6-liter that the seller added headers to, as well as an MSD ignition. Custom wheels add some bling to the low-mileage (34,000 miles) car. The rear 3.73:1 gear ratio gives the car more acceleration over the stock gears. Paul had to attach chassis connectors to hold the front and back together to make it ride smoothly.

Then came the exciting part: the paint job.

“We came up with the pinstripe design, just laying it out on the car and seeing what looked best,” Paul says. “That was all custom. My son and I just kind of tackled it and that’s what we came up with. We took it to the next step with the paint job and the striping on it.”

Three-stage DuPont paint was applied. It took seven coats to get the color they wanted. The Mustang was re-cleared and sanded twice. To give it a sparkle in the sun, Paul put DuPont powder pearls into the paint. Matte black pinstripes were sprayed on, using three coats of Sikkens paint.

“Most people think it’s a decal when they see it,” Paul says of the pinstripe. 

Though the paint was the most difficult part of the restoration, and very time consuming, Paul doesn’t think it was the biggest change to the car.

“I’m thinking the biggest upgrades we did were the bumper and the hood to change it from the 2002 style to making it look a little bit more modern,” he says.

For Paul, these are huge changes, because to him, style is king. He and his son turned a regular GT convertible into something “a little more fun,” after five months of work and about $9,000.  

Paul’s son was able to take it to his high school graduation last year to show it off, and the car also made its way to shows in the area. It won “Best Mustang” in a 1987-and-newer category at a local show.

“We’re competing against a lot of different cars so it’s not real, real custom, but if you put it next to custom Mustangs it stands right out,” Paul says. 

It won’t be the last Mustang the duo restores, either.

“I’m a Mustang guy,” Paul says. “My son’s a Mustang guy. He’s the kind of kid that can spot the models from a mile away. It’s great to have my son so interested. It makes all the projects so worthwhile.”

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