It’s a common practice for a person to hold onto to a small part of their youth as they get older. What’s less common is being able to restore part of that very same adolescence at a more seasoned age—let alone doing it five times, like Angelo DiTullio has.
At 41 years old, the assistant vice president of Rocco’s Collision Center, a five-location multiple-shop operation in the greater Philadelphia and New Jersey area, has been on a mission to replace the 1988 Mustang LX he bought when he graduated high school. Over the past couple of decades, he’s tried four times, each time restoring a ’92 fox body Mustang, and each time failing to get a satisfying replica of that original black-on-black ’88.
That is, until now. DiTullio says it wasn’t easy to find, but earlier this year, he got his hands on a perfect fit—another ’92 LX—and has since spent much of his time restoring the vehicle to look the way it did back then.
After having sold his previous four, “Fox Five,” as he calls it, is the keeper.
“For a lot of people this represents their childhood,” DiTullio says. “It’s close to the same car I had when I first got out of high school.”
Fox Five had been collecting dust in a garage in Philadelphia, when DiTullio made his first-ever purchase on Craigslist and dragged the car to his shop. Almost as soon as it got there, he began restoring it with the help of other technicians at Rocco’s.
“It looked decent when I first got it,” he recalled. “It was a good 20-footer, is what I call it—decent shape when you’re looking at it from 20 feet away. But being in this business I can’t have a car that’s not perfect.”
With donated time and parts from workers at the shop, DiTullio estimates about 200 man hours were put into the project, with a materials cost staying below $5,000 thanks to parts, paint, and labor donated by the shop.
“It turned into a real labor of love for us; a lot of time, taking it apart again and again,” he says. “The engine was completely rebuilt and the only pieces reused were the crank, block, and pistons. The upper and lower intakes we replaced with Ford GT40 intakes. ... We had to replace everything that was bolted on, including the floor.”
When it’s all said and done, DiTullio says he may even like his latest project better than the one he had in his younger years. Back then he wanted a black car with black interior, but had to settle for a gray interior.
The new version has that black interior, and black Axalta Cromax Pro paint outside.
DiTullio may have to wait for winter to pass before he can take Fox Five out for its first run, but at least he can enjoy the way it looks, and hang his hat on briefly slowing down his own aging process, and finally, getting the car he wanted.
“It’s the perfect combination of what I wanted. Nothing looks better when it’s clean than a black car,” he says. “I went all out on this one and spared nothing to get it right. I keep telling myself that I’m not selling this one and I’m keeping it and giving it to my kids someday.”