A Garage Visit with the “Northern Utah Mustang Owners Association”

By Mike Mastracco

Like father—like son—like daughter… Heidi has a full background of automotive knowledge and work experience that includes working for two professional race car teams before coming to work for Johnny Johnson, her father. Together, the first car they restored was her 1966 Mustang GT 350H, yes, a real Hertz Mustang.

It was the first week of October 2023 and I was approaching my second full weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I was thinking there might be a car related activity such as a Cars ‘n Coffee, or maybe a car show somewhere around the area.

Being out west for close to two weeks I brought my laptop along to keep up with my normal computer activities.  It was Thursday evening when I started to look for car clubs in the area, more specifically Mustang, Vintage or European.  I came across the “Northern Utah Mustang Owners Association.”  I clicked on their website to cruise around a bit.  First thing I clicked was the “Photo Gallery” as I’m thinking to look at some of the members’ cars.  Low and behold I needed a user ID and password to go any further.  Next, I saw an events tab and clicked on that with much better results.  This brought me to the month of October webpage and two events this upcoming Saturday, I hit the jackpot.  The first event listed was a “Fall Garage Tour” between the hours of 8:00-5:00.  The second event was a car show north of Salt Lake City.  I figured I couldn’t do both so I clicked on the “Garage Tour” tab and amazingly the starting point was in Draper, Utah which is less than 15 minutes away from my son’s house where I was staying.  Well, that means my Saturday plans just got semi-finalized.  I say semi-finalized as I was not sure if an out of state “stranger” driving a Jeep that shows up out of nowhere would be allowed to partake in a club event such as this.

Once arriving at the starting point of the trip, a Sinclair Gas Station, I saw two late model Mustangs in the parking lot.  I found a spot to park not far from these two early comers.  I walked over to one of the drivers as he was getting out of his car, introduced myself and we chatted a bit.  As a few more cars were driving in I was introduced to the event coordinator and then to the President of the club.  I mentioned my home area, upstate New York, and my involvement in hobby cars and such.  They all welcomed me to join them on this trip today and introduced me to a few other members.  Quite a friendly bunch they were.

The event coordinator gathered everyone together for a short meeting.  He introduced a couple of new members to the club, and then introduced me, from upstate New York and a lady who just moved here from Alabama.  A total of 31 cars started from this Sinclair fuel station and all were given a short set of directions before take-off.

Mustangs from the first generation all the way up to the latest generations participated in this event.  Here are a few of the participating:

Cars:  1965 coupe, 1965 convertible, 1967 GT350, 1969 Boss, 1971 convertible, 1972 coupe, 1972 Mach 1, several Fox bodies including two Saleen’s, many GT’s, a few other Mach 1’s, along with six or eight Shelby’s of the newer vintage, 2019 Bullitt with a good share of other convertibles of all vintages.  One late model Thunderbird and a late model Camaro snuck in for good measure.

There were two garage stops planned for the day’s adventure.  We left as a group promptly at 9:15, and headed into the majestic mountains of Utah.  The drive was through the Traverse Mountain range, down into the Alpine Mountain area then the Highland Mountain area of Utah which made me wish I had one of my cars to enjoy the curves, hills and speeds a little more. 

First Stop of the Day
Our first stop was to the Dennis Squire collection, a little over a very brisk 30-minute drive up into the hills of Utah.  Once a parking place was secured, I walked up to his garage which was just the starting point of what was inside.  In front of his garage was parked a late model Saleen Mustang, a newer Shelby convertible, a Shelby pick-up truck, and a late model Mustang Cobra all lined up which sparked an interest in everyone to see the rest of his collection.  First and foremost, as I walked in, I saw a gorgeous red 1969 Mach I, and a very striking dark blue 1966 Mustang Fastback.

Further in was sitting a beautiful 1962 Fairlane with a 221 ci. V8 which is an identical auto that his father owned as Dennis was growing up.  Dennis found this car, had it restored in memory of his father, now it looks new as he remembers the car many years ago.  A 1970’s High-Boy 4WD Ford pick-up all original, a Factory 5 Cobra and a Harley Davidson motorcycle for pleasure were also there.  Included in this mix of Fords was a 1968 Camaro with the following back story.

Dennis and his wife were out one day, when his wife pointed to a Camaro and asked Dennis “what kind of car is that?” and then said “I kind of like that.”  He started searching for a Camaro that met his requirements and a Camaro his wife would like to drive.  Once finished, he surprised his wife with this Camaro, she looked at it and mentioned “it’s OK, I didn’t really want one.”  Dennis just decided to keep it.  Dennis also offered stories on each one of his vehicles.  Coffee and donuts were offered to all, a great stop with a great host.

Second Stop of the Day
Our next stop was about 20 minutes away to Johnny Johnson’s fine collection of vehicles.  This collection was like walking into a full-fledged working mechanics museum.  After parking my Jeep on the street with other sharp-eyed visitors, we walked down this wide driveway with a great backdrop view of the mountains behind the garage.

As I approached his garage, I saw a Lamborghini with both gull wing doors opened.  I was then intrigued to what I might find inside the rest of his garage.  To everyone’s surprise this garage housed so many vehicles along with a large display of collectibles.  Everywhere I looked I saw automotive related memorabilia,  metal signs, neon signs, banners, license plates, new and vintage tools and  items hanging from the ceiling.  Every wall was jam packed with merchandise, even the floor was meticulously laid out with automotive related merchandise.

I noticed a small tool box and work area with pink wrapped tools, workshop cans that were wrapped in pink as well.  Soon after that I noticed a very large double decker pink tool box with a young lady in front chatting with visitors.  As I was meandering my way around the abundance of items to look at, I approached this young lady named Heidi who was standing near “her” tool box.  Heidi has a full background of automotive knowledge and work that includes working for two professional race car teams before coming to work at Johnny Johnson.

I asked Heidi what she drives, she pointed me to a 1966 Mustang GT 350H, yes, a real Hertz Mustang.  She mentioned to me all the cars in this collection are real cars that are restored to their original condition, no replicas, and very few modifications, with the exception of the street rods.  I asked Heidi where Johnny Johnson was as I would like to introduce myself and thank him for this visit.  She pointed to one of the cars and said my father is over there with the blue Ford hat!  Her Mustang GT 350H was the first car that Heidi and her father Johnny Johnson restored together.

Inside there is so much to talk about it is uncanny.  Cars, trucks, Elvis sitting on a stool with guitar in hand behind a full drum set, dozens of signs decorate the walls, a large plush leather Mustang chair, models of all years of Fords and so much more.  An early 1965 Mustang convertible built in May 1964, with a 260 V8, 1968 California Special, 1969 Shelby GT350, and other Mustangs from 1966 to 1969 not mentioned above.  When talking with Johnny Johnson, I asked him if he had a favorite among all his vehicles, he replied the 1947 red Ford pick-up up on the lift as this was the first vehicle he and his father restored.  Like father, like son, like daughter.  I then asked about his every day driver, he replied, a red 2022 Shelby.

Outside there was an identical Milner car from the movie American Graffiti, next to that was an original VW Bug that appeared in one of the Herbie the Love Bug movies that had signatures on the glovebox of four of the main actors in the movie.

A 1970 Mustang convertible with a 351-power plant, a very sharp looking 1963 Galaxy 500 XL convertible with a 390 V8, a 1940 Merc with an original flat head V8, a 1934 suicide door Ford Flathead V8, a vintage military Jeep, along with a few Peanut’s characters and a small putting green that Snoopy is looking over.  I must mention the two vintage stand up style gas pumps and hoses with working gauges & lights, another fuel pump that is a lever handle pump style, a metal display unit with glass bottles with long necks to fill your vintage vehicle up at the station and a vintage air pump as well.  We were offered a variety of Ford and Mustang cookies to enjoy along with several drink options.

Final Thought
Oh, what a great adventure in the mountains of Utah, the drive, the two outstanding car collection visits along with the company of the “Northern Utah Mustang Owners Association.”  I most definitely hit the Mustang – Ford jackpot today!

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